Here's Some Indoor Games To Play With Your Kids When They're Really, Really Bored

When you have no outdoor plans or the weather isn't playing ball, try one of these to keep the kids occupied.

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Lockdown has really highlighted the differences between households with kids in and households without. While non-parents are mastering new skills, writing novels and baking exquisitely (that’s what it looks like, anyway) those of us with kids are run ragged, resisting the urge to just have CBeebies on from dawn to dusk and hand parenting duties over to Bing, Duggee and Waffle The Wonder Dog.

So if you’re looking for yet more ways to entertain your little ones, you’re in luck – because I wrote a book hundreds (literally, hundreds) of games to keep you all busy.

Open In Case Of Emergency: 501 Games to Entertain and Keep You and the Kids Sane was originally written with summer holidays in mind – and the inconceivable prospect of six whole weeks where the kids weren’t at school. They were different times!

A lot of the games are ones you already know, but haven’t necessarily thought about in years. There are card games, ball games, pencil-and-paper games, games that take a few seconds and games that may take up huge chunks of a day. There are games kids can sit and play quietly on their own, and big silly ones the whole family can play together and run their lockdown energy out.

The dream is for this book to end up sun-bleached and dog-eared, covered in scrawls where you’ve decided to add extra rules or tally marks from keeping scores. It also makes a pretty decent bat.

Things might be a bit bleak at the moment, but that’s no reason not to at least try to have fun. Here are four games you can try – find out about the other 497 games in the book.

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1. Beasts in the Tundra. (High energy)

Age: 4 and up

Players: 2 and up (dependent on freezer space)

What you need: One plastic box and one toy per player or team, a freezer

How to play: Freeze the toys in water in the plastic boxes the night before. Action figures or dinosaurs are ideal, and you can consider adding food colouring to the water to make it that bit wackier. Players then have to release their creatures from their frozen slumbers – just like Captain America – before their opponents. Breathing heavily onto the ice, rubbing it or wrapping it up might all work, or (with adult supervision) heat and gravity can work wonders.

2. Five Pence Hockey. (High energy)

Age: 7 and up

Players: 2

What you need: A table, tape, two 2p pieces, one 1p piece

How to play: Don’t play on a table that is likely to get scratched – that’ll make the game a lot more expensive. Use the tape to mark out equally sized goals. Then, stand one at either end and play hockey – slide your 2p around with your
middle finger, using the penny as a puck. First to ten goals wins.

3. Five by Five. (Low energy)

Age: 8 and up

Players: 2

What you need: Pencil and paper

How to play: Each player thinks of a five-letter word, and tells the other player the first letter of it. You then try to work out what the other player’s word is, writing each guess down and giving them the paper. They draw a circle around any letter in the right place, and underline any correct letters that are in the wrong place. For instance, if the word is CARDS, they’re told it’s C – – – –. If they guess CHATS, the C and S are circled and the A and R are underlined. Try to get each other’s words in five goes or less.

4. Sixty Winks. (Low energy)

Age: 6 and up

Players: Any number

What you need: A timer, paper and pencil to keep score

How to play: One person is designated timekeeper. After they count down from five, all the players close their eyes for what they consider to be 1 minute. They can’t open their eyes or speak at all, and when they think exactly a minute has
passed, they open their eyes and signal to the timekeeper. Score 1 point for every second off 60 you are, whether too long or too short, and after five rounds, lowest scorer wins. Giggling or talking counts as opening your eyes.

Extracted from Open in Case of Emergency by Mike Rampton (Pop Press, £9.99)