10 Tried and True Cabin Fever Busting Ideas!

I don't know about you but this is always the time of year I start racking my brain for fun things my kids can do inside that 1. doesn't end up with anyone in the hospital 2. involves little clean up/set up 3. keeps the kids playing for more than 3 minutes 4. gets them moving!  The following are some tried and true ideas that fit the above criteria!

1. Masking tape car races or roads.  

My kids love this activity and we usually set it up and leave it for a few days.  Masking tape or painters tape works well on hard woods or carpet as it doesn't leave a residue.  You can simply roll cars on the tape or you can expand by adding blocks for tunnels, bridges, houses, you name it! You can add "stop" signs, use red and green colored blocks for "red light" and "green light" or make signs for favorite buildings (Target, grocery store, etc.).  This game is perfect for kiddos who are just starting to do some pretend play all the way up to those kiddos who love pretend play ideas.  OTs love this game because it helps to solidify some visual motor skills.

2. Blanket swing

This is a great toddler game to get some movement in when you can't get outside to a park or playground.  You need two adults for this game.  You simply have the kiddo lie on his/her back in a blanket and then have each adult pick up either end of the blanket.  We like to expand by counting to 3 and saying "go" or practicing "Ready, Set, Go" before swinging the child.  This is a great opportunity to work on natural eye gaze and shared smiles.  We also like to count or sing while swinging to let the child know when the swinging will end and then we like to "dump" the kiddo onto a couch or bed for some nice deep pressure input.  Once a child has this plan down you can really work on expanding motor planning by having the child help set up the blanket and you can work on initiating by having the child say something or simply hand you the blanket. 

3. Flashlights

The good thing about having it get dark so early is you can play with flashlights! For kids working on visual motor integration you can have them find the light in the room and use simple language such as up, down, on, etc., or if they're able you can play flashlight tag where you give the child a flashlight and have their light "tag" yours. 
You can also put pictures on the wall and use your flashlight to find them. You can work on simple receptive vocabulary or categories (find the one you eat, which one do you wear) or play a guessing game, "I'm thinking of a kind of fruit, it's red, it grows on a tree, it's crunchy and juicy." Take turns with giving clues and the other person finding the item with the flashlight to work on expressive language as well. 
Flashlight games can also be a fun, down-regulating activity to add to your bedtime routine. 
Here's a link for more flashlight activities: 


4.  Bubble Tub

We love this regulating game at the clinic and it is so simple to do!  You simply fill a tub (something that is large enough to hold water but not too deep) with water and a few drops of dish soap.  You can use straws to blow and fill the tub with bubbles.  We like to use long aquarium tubing when we can find it, but long straws work just as well.  You can add small toys into the tub to add to the fun. Blowing is very regulating so we really love this simple activity.  

5.  Balloon games

If you are not allergic to latex, we really encourage this cheap and fun activity.  There are so many things you can do with balloons!  Sometimes I use them to target engagement- kiddo thinks balloon is interesting and hands it to me, I say "Ready, Set" and put the balloon to my mouth.  Then I wait for a smile, eye gaze, a lip pucker or blow or the word "go" and blow the balloon.  I can also wait for the kiddo to signal he/she wants the balloon or wants to let the balloon fly around the room.  I keep going until I am dizzy or the kiddo is finished with that idea.  For beginning vocalizers, I have had success getting kiddos to say "eeeee" for the sound the balloon makes when you squeeze and let the air out of it.  You can also simply play back and forth games keeping the balloon in the air or have kiddos see how many times they can keep it in the air.  Balloon games are a great visual motor activity and provide opportunities for cooperative play.

6.  Obstacle courses

The best part of obstacle courses are that you can make them as simple or complex as needed.  You can climb over or around furniture, walk on pillows, and use masking tape to jump over or tip toe across.  You can also add tunnels or tables for extra crawling and blankets for rolling up inside, etc.  Obstacle courses provide beneficial sensorimotor input and target sequencing and motor planning skills.  

7.  Tape "laser" courses

Our older kids love this!  You simply use masking or painter's tape and find the longest hallway in the house.  The objective is to move through the course without touching the "laser" tape.  You can step this game up by trying to steal treasure at the end or rescue superheroes.  This is another fun way to work on motor planning, sequencing, and body awareness.

8.  Tactile play

Tactile play is any kind of play that gives input to your kiddo's tactile system.  Play-doh, corn starch/water, beans, rice, pom poms, dry oatmeal, shaving cream, and kinetic sand are all forms of tactile play.  For those kiddos who have some tactile defensiveness, it can be helpful to incorporate this kind of play during bath time so that it is easy for kids to clean off their hands.  They may be more willing to touch some of these messy textures when they are sitting in the tub!  You can spray shaving cream or use soap finger paints on the tub walls.  Lakeshore Learning has a set of 4 great trays that are perfect for tactile play, making clean up super easy! You can order the trays here: http://www.lakeshorelearning.com 

9.  Scavenger Hunts

Scavenger hunts are a fun way to work on organizing, planning, attention to task, and task completion.  You can use pictures, spoken words or written words for the hunt.  Kids can take turns to complete the hunt or work together to follow the clues.  Drawing treasure maps together and marking the spots where they can find clues is fun too!  

10.  Cooking/baking

There are so many fun things about baking or cooking with your kiddos... although it does take about 4 times as long, so just plan ahead!  As a speech-language pathologist, I love all the language opportunities that cooking affords!  In order to increase vocabulary there is nothing better than emotional experience paired with the word.  Think about it!  I can show you a picture of "crack" but helping to crack an egg makes an emotional connection which helps to solidify the word.  Cooking also works on sequencing and time order words such as: first, next, then, last.  For children who have some food aversions, cooking together often ends with them trying a food they might not try if just presented on their plate at the table.  I am always surprised at what my picky eater will put in his mouth when we bake or cook together.  If you are worried about your children tasting dough with raw eggs, you can always supplement a flax seed egg (a combination of flax seed meal and water) in order to alleviate any worries.  

If you are interested in more cabin fever ideas or cooking recipes follow us on Pinterest, https://www.pinterest.com/kcdevelopmental/.  Leave a comment and let us know what activities you tried! 

bubble tub
foam peanuts tub
tape "laser" course