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Indoor Fun Helps Military Families Beat Cabin Fever

Children playing.

There will always be days when cold or rainy weather keep everyone indoors. But don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to fight cabin fever. Here are 11 tried-and-tested activities that can help children burn off energy, learn basic skills and have a good time.

These activities can be especially good for children with special needs. Your children will have fun while developing important motor and cognitive skills.

Making slime is a great way for children to learn to follow simple directions. Plus, playing with slime is fun. Here’s an easy, nontoxic slime recipe for you to make with your child.

What you will need:

  • ¼ cup white glue
  • ½ cup cornstarch
  • Food coloring
  • Bowl for mixing
  • Spatula


  1. Put the glue in the bowl and stir in food coloring. Mix colors for more fun.
  2. Stir in the cornstarch until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Enjoy your slime.

Tips: Make more slime by using a ratio of two parts cornstarch to one part glue. Store the slime in an airtight plastic food container or baggie.

This game uses a recycled can with a lid, such as a coffee can, to practice fine motor and cognitive skills. Cut a slit in the top of the lid. Get some poker chips and apply stickers of animals, flowers, shapes or whatever your child enjoys. Say the name of a sticker, such as “horse,” and have your child drop the matching chip inside the can.

To further work on cognitive skills, have your child match and sort the chips by color, or put two of the same sticker on different chips and have your child match them. Have a few small bowls to put the chips in.

Take your children to a dollar store and give them a budget for making purchases. Let them pick out items and keep track of how much they’re spending until they use up their budget. Then have them take their items to the checkout and pay for them.

This activity helps children learn budgeting skills, decision making and encourages social interaction.

Folding origami is a great activity for children to practice fine motor skills and learn to follow directions. All you need is paper and simple origami directions. Buy a book of basic designs at the craft store or download some from the internet.

For more action and to develop gross motor skills, set up an obstacle course with different features for your child to navigate:

  • Make a “tunnel” with a couple of chairs and a blanket.
  • Use pillows for “hills” they can climb.
  • Set up toys or boxes as obstacles to go around.
  • Hide things along the way and challenge your child to find them.

This simple activity combines gross motor skills with speech and cognitive abilities. In a room with plenty of space to move around, say the name of an animal and have your child act out what the animal says and does. For example, say “cat,” and your child can “meow” and walk on all fours.

Put on your child’s favorite music and join them for some hopping and bopping. This is great for developing gross motor skills and is a fun activity to do together.

A mini trampoline is great for children in many ways. They practice motor skills and balance, get a good workout and burn off extra energy. Plus, who doesn’t love to bounce?

Read a book with your child and then act out the story. This is a good way to encourage children to read and use their “imagination muscles.” Costumes are a plus.

Doing a jigsaw puzzle with your child exercises cognitive skills such as decision making and problem solving. Children also practice fine motor skills and enjoy the achievement of completing the puzzle. There are jigsaw puzzles for all ages and abilities.

This activity is great for developing fine motor skills and cognitive abilities. Here are a few variations, but you can also come up with your own:

  • Fill a box with objects of different sizes, shapes and textures: balls, spoons, tissue paper, an apple, etc. Let your child reach into the box and describe the objects before taking them out.
  • Put rice in the box and give your child a set of measuring cups. Let him/her feel and sift and measure the rice.
  • Create a themed box, such as balls or blocks of different sizes and textures.

Remember that no matter the weather, Morale, Welfare and Recreation has programs and activities to entertain and educate. Find your installation MWR office here.

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