Indoor Activities for Kids That Encourage Movement - Small Legacies

Indoor Activities for Kids That Encourage Movement

By Kendra Johnson

This January is all about getting kids moving when we are stuck inside! I am a HUGE advocate for getting kids outside in all weather, but sometimes it just isn't in the cards. For example, this winter we were facing 60 MPH winds at -30 degrees. So yes, we kept the little ones inside for those days. 

Excuses, Excuses: Why I’m deciding to stay indoors a bit more this winter. 

Last winter I was ALL about getting outside as much as we could, but this year, I just don’t have it in me. 

Excuse #1: My Son Seth hates the cold. 

My 3 year old Seth hates the cold. I’ve tried to get him used to it, but every single time we go outside it’s a battle. And even if he is having a great time, he’s always the first of the cousins that says he wants to go inside. Even just going into the car in a closed garage he yells “I want to move to Florida!” …every time. 

Excuse #2: I have a baby. 

I also have a 9 month old and while I know the research says that getting him outside is great for him (yes even in the cold: look up this amazing article about nordic parents having babies nap outside in sub-zero weather)

The real reason: I’m just tired.

I am really looking forward to next year when my youngest can walk and we can resume our zeal for outdoor adventures. 

Movement-Based Indoor Activities to Try at Home

YouTube Movement 

I honestly avoided YouTube for years with my kids. As a former educational technology director, I spent years studying the risks and negative influence too much screen time (especially unmonitored tablet screen time) can have. But lately, I just can’t resist the many wonderful programs that are available for free for kids on YouTube.

Instead of just having your kid sit with their tablet and watch YouTube, help pick videos that promote movement and put them on the larger tv screen. 

Here are our favorites.

Have a Race

Put on your child’s favorite action packed show theme song (just the song, not the show) and have them race from one side of the room to the other using their cape. 

Set up an Obstacle Course

Running, jumping, climbing…any indoor obstacle course offers great opportunities for practicing balance and coordination. Not to mention problem solving! 

Tell kids the floor is lava! Set up step stools, chairs, play slides, couches and more in an arrangement that is hard to maneuver. Then time your kids to see how long it takes them to get from start to finish. Encourage them to go faster each time. (If you have toddlers, be sure to keep this fun and lighthearted, we aren’t putting pressure on them to never fall, just keep it light and fun) 

Read how to make the BEST indoor obstacle course here. 

Exercise Dice:


  • Find 4 different colored dice*

  • Assign each color a movement exercise. You can see an example below!

  • On your turn, roll ALL 4 dice. 

  • Everyone completes that number of each exercise, counting out loud as you go!

Learn more here!


Active Indoor Activities to Look for In Your Town 

Open Gym at the YMCA

Our local YMCA has open play time called “Toddler Time” in the gymnastics room twice a week for an hour. In addition, the basketball court is open every day for open gym hours. As long as there aren’t other people that need the space, we are using it! I try to go on off-hour times. If there’s a group playing basketball, we don’t stay. 

Swimming Lessons

I am so blessed to have an amazing father-in-law who loves to take my boys to swim lessons. Every Friday we drive an hour to visit grandpa and he takes each of the boys swimming in a nice warm pool. (Yes, even Sully takes lessons now!)

Trampoline Park

We love Urban Air. Especially since my kids are too little for the fancy rope course, it’s super affordable and they can jump to their heart’s content. 

Kendra Johnson is a certified elementary educator based in rural Wisconsin. As a parent and teacher, Kendra has a passion for teaching through engaging and varied techniques. Her background in theatre, educational technology and curriculum development have fueled her passion for teaching life skills to youth creatively.

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