With sufficient outdoor space and a few simple props like balls and skipping ropes, a group of elementary school aged kids can probably entertain themselves. But if rain or space constraints force the same group of kids to stay indoors, they'll often become bored and frustrated. The solution is easy: indoor games. Kids between the ages of 6 and 12 are old enough to understand interactive games and young enough to enjoy traditional kids' games -- especially if you incorporate a twist into the rules. Here are a few ideas for rainy days that are sure to prevent boredom.
Balloon Baseball is an indoor game of baseball -- with balloons instead of a ball. The pitcher tosses the balloon to the batter, who hits the balloon with a fist. After hitting the ball, he runs around the bases while the other team tries to blow the balloon to the ground. The team in the field is not allowed to touch the ball, only to blow on it. The inning continues until every player on the team has had a chance to "bat," and then the teams switch places.
Bubblegum Art is easy to play in a small space, and kids are sure to love it -- but make sure you put a towel or tarp down to protect the carpet, just in case. Give each player an index card, a toothpick and a piece of gum. Players chew the gum until it's soft, and then they put the gum on the index cards. They then use the toothpicks to create artistic designs on the gum. Have prizes for winners in several different categories, such as "most creative," "funniest" and "most confusing."
This is a version of basketball that can be played in a small indoor space. Divide players into two teams, and make sure each player has a chair. Have the players of each team arrange their chairs into a line so that the teams are in two lines facing each other. The player on one end of the first team should turn to sit facing her team and hold her arms out to create a circle. The player on the opposite end of the second team should do the same. These two players are the "hoops;" their arms are the goal for their team.
To play, toss a balloon into the air in the middle between the teams. Players try to hit the balloon toward their own goal. Everyone must remain seated in their chair at all times. Play to a designated time limit or a point limit.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt
Indoor Scavenger Hunt is a great game for a large group in a small indoor space. Divide the group into teams (more teams are better, but you need at least four or five players per team). The leader calls out the scavenger items one at a time, and the first team to bring the item up to the front of the room gets the point for that item. The items should be things that kids will probably have on them, such as several shoelaces tied together, a long piece of a girl's hair, a piece of jewellery or something blue.
Train Wreck needs a group of at least 10 players. Have the players sit in a circle, either on chairs or on markers that designate seats. One player stands in the middle. The player in the middle then states something that is true about himself. For example, he might say, "I am wearing blue." Everyone in the circle who is also wearing blue must then get up and switch places. No one is allowed to move to the seat directly next to him; he must move at least two seats over. As everyone is switching, the person in the middle also tries to get a seat. Whoever is left in the middle is the new "it."
If the person in the middle can't think of anything to say, he calls, "Train wreck!" and everyone must then switch places.
This is a great game to play at camp or with a group of kids who are just getting to know each other, but it's fun even for kids who know each other's names well. Divide into two teams and have two players hold a blanket up between the two teams so the teams cannot see each other. Each team chooses one player to go up and sit facing the blanket. On the count of three, the blanket is dropped, leaving the two chosen players facing each other. The two players each shout out the name of the person they are facing. The person who is slower at shouting the name must switch to the other team. Play continues until all the players are on one team.
Huckle Buckle Beanstalk
Choose a small object and "hide" it somewhere it's still visible and not too difficult to find. Players search for the object. When a player finds it, she goes to the side of the room, sits down and says, "Huckle Buckle Beanstalk!" The other players keep searching until everyone has found the object.
People to People
This game works best with a large group of players. Have players stand in a circle with one player in the middle. The person in the middle calls out, "People to people," and then names two body parts, such as "head to foot." All the other players then find a partner and put those body parts together, so one player would put his head on his partner's foot. The last pair to find a partner and get in position is out.