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Quick & Easy Indoor Play Ideas to Beat the Heat this Summer 

Children Playing Together and Keeping Busy
By Amanda Grigg Leslie, MS, OTR/L 

With the heat already intensifying this summer, it’s becoming more and more necessary to keep children inside while also trying to find ways to keep them busy with indoor play! Therefore, here are a few ways to use household items with minimal setup/cleanup to keep little brains and bodies active: 

Paint with water 

  • Supplies: water, cup, and construction paper (paintbrushes optional) Child Having Fun with Indoor Play Activities
  • The dollar store has plenty of affordable options for construction paper and paintbrushes, but you can fingerpaint as well! The water makes satisfying marks on the paper, and you can add a challenge by drawing designs, letters, or words then having your child practice tracing. This activity’s primary benefit is easy setup and cleanup for all ages, but it also encourages fine motor coordination, visual motor integration, and sensory play. 
  • More ways to engage 
    • Have your child help fill the cup with water, gather supplies, and clean up any spills on their own to build confidence and independence 
    • Paint the fence or the side of the house/building with water and paint rollers to get even more energy out.


Use everyday items for fine motor play 

  • Supplies: cups, straws, pens/crayons/markers, play doh, tongs, ladles, muffin tins, anything you can find! 
  • Place small items or snacks into a plastic bottle then dump them back out! If working with very small children, use larger items such as straws. Emily gives some more specific ideas here: 
  • Play doh is great for hand strength, fine motor skills, and sensory play! In fact, Amy gives some great ideas here: 
    • Note: It is completely age appropriate for children to try and eat play doh when exploring. Rather than saying “no!” try redirecting to appropriate play (i.e. “let’s squish/roll/squeeze!”). If they continue eating the play doh, try this taste safe option: 
  • More ways to engage 
    • Race each other by making pyramids or structures with cups from the cabinet 
    • Use measuring cups as nesting cups for babies to work on their problem solving 
    • Place straws through the holes on the lid of a parmesan cheese bottle 
    • Use tongs to retrieve toys from inside a muffin tin. Sort by color or drop from up high like a claw game! 


Movement activities 

  • Create an indoor play obstacle course with a chair, cushions, some blankets, or by placing actual obstacles/toys in the way. Additionally, here are a few more ways to get started and increase or decrease the challenge: 
  • Make your own crash pad and get rid of stuffed animal clutter: 
  • Fill a fitted sheet or duvet cover with stuffed animals, blankets, or pillows 
  • Tie the corners together 
  • Climb or jump! 
  • More ways to engage 
  • Simon Says 
  • Red Light/Green Light 
  • The Floor is Lava 

 Age Appropriate Chores for Children as part of Indoor Play Activities Age-appropriate Chores 

  • Kids love feeling independent, so find which chores are most motivating for your children. For example, small children can be helpful by moving laundry in/out of the washer and dryer, and preschool age children can show off their skills by matching socks! Even more, you can make it fun by seeing how fast it can be done or adding a reward chart as an incentive. See the chart below for more chores recommended by age. 


Rotate toys every few days 

  • It can frequently feel like toys and kid items are taking over the house. Therefore, separate toys into a few different bins or boxes and keep only one out at any given time for indoor play! This can help minimize clutter and make toys feel brand new when it’s time to switch out the boxes. 


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