17 Things Your Kids Can Do Inside When It’s Too Hot To Play Outside

The best part of summer, for me, has always been the ability to be outside all day long. Running around the neighborhood, poking around in the garden, reading on the porch, playing tag with neighborhood kids, playing in the hose, going to the pool, lying on the grass, making forts out of trees. Bliss.

But it’s been so hot lately that kids can’t really stay outside all day. Evening is still prime time for catching lightning bugs, but the days are just too hot and humid to be outside for long enough to have any fun.

So I thought of some things kids can do inside that still give them the learning they get from running around all day and the same freedom.



  • Teach yourself something. 1 of 17
    Khan Academy, Duolingo, and YouTube are just three sites kids can learn from for free (be careful with YouTube, obviously). Algebra, French, cats' cradle, ping pong. There are instructions for how to do almost everything on the web.
  • Scavenger hunts. 2 of 17
    While a really prepared mom would make scavenger hunts for her children, I am the kind of mom who would get her children to make scavenger hunts for me. If you didn't want to be in the loop at all, you could have your kids make scavenger hunts for each other.
  • Construction projects. 3 of 17
    Cardboard, paper, cards, popsicle sticks, whatever materials you've got can turn into construction materials to see who can build the tallest structure.
  • Make a movie. 4 of 17
    Your kids can use the video function on your phone to make movies, and they'll get practice writing the script, doing costumes and props, and figuring out lighting. They might even give you a speaking part, if you're lucky.
  • Learn something from another kid. 5 of 17
    Kids are good at things, and they can teach each other more easily than adults can, often. Make a playdate and ask the kids to come ready to teach the other kids something they know how to do.
  • Make an instructional video for other kids. 6 of 17
    Take the expertise out of your neighborhood, by making an instructional video for something your kids know how to do. Have them post it on the web for other kids to learn from.
  • Track the weather. 7 of 17
    Instead of resenting how hot it is so you're stuck inside, make a project out of tracking the heat. Kids can use the internet to look at which parts of the country are the hottest, what historical averages have been, and predict whether the heat is a trend or an anomaly. If you have poster board and art supplies they can make an entire presentation about the weather.
  • Make a fort. 8 of 17
    Couch cushions, blankets, password to get in. Classic.
  • Make popsicles. 9 of 17
    You can buy popsicle forms or just use paper cups and popsicle sticks. Then make popsicles by filling the forms with juice and freezing. Or, instead of juice, use yogurt. Or put some watermelon in the blender with a little lime juice, or pineapple with some coconut milk, or rice pudding. (I've done them for myself with sweetened coffee with milk.) Let your kids make up their own combinations.
  • Write a graphic novel. 10 of 17
    Instead of telling you complicated tales of battles and superheroes and long, involved stories, get your kids to write and illustrate them in graphic novel form.
  • Watch classic movies. 11 of 17
    Have your ids seen "The Princess Bride" yet? How about the Marx Brothers movies? Or "Big"? "The Shaggy DA"? I could watch the original "Parent Trap" with Hayley Mills right now.
  • Make money. 12 of 17
    If your kids are around anyway, why not have them help your neighbors out and make some money by pet-sitting and watering plants while the neighbors are away?
  • Play soccer in the basement. 13 of 17
    If you have a nice cool basement without a lot of breakable things in it, use it as an indoor soccer field (with a nerf ball, of course). The kids can still get exercise without being in danger of heat exhaustion.
  • Make a diorama of your favorite scene from a book or movie. 14 of 17
    For me that would have been Laura Ingalls Wilder's little house on the prairie (the one with the cord for the latch that they could pull in through the hole to lock themselves in at night). For one of my sons, it would be the Millennium Falcon. A cereal box or shoe box, some paper and glue and paint, and you've got your own miniature set.
  • Write letters to people who will write back. 15 of 17
    Grandmothers are one likely option, but another great option is politicians. Your kids surely have opinions about something going on in your community. Teach them to look up who their representatives are and write a letter about something they're concerned with. Writing the letter is a great exercise in democratic responsibility, and there will be delayed excitement when the representative replies to your child in a few weeks.
  • Make pickles. 16 of 17
    It's easy enough to make a quick refrigerator pickle by slicing cucumbers, heating a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices over the stove, and then pouring this brine over the cucumbers. Refrigerator pickles don't need to be canned or sealed, and can keep in the refrigerator for a week, if you don't eat them first. Search "refrigerator pickles" and you'll get dozens of recipes.
  • Read to someone else. 17 of 17
    Of course you're spending time reading to yourself. But reading can be even more fun when one person reads to another, especially if it's an older child reading to a younger child. My 10-year-old is currently reading the first Harry Potter book to his 7-year-old brother, and they keep stopping to talk about what's happening in the book. Yes, it's great that they're reading, but I'm more excited about the fact that for the rest of their lives they'll have Harry Potter in common.


(Photo credits: morguefile.com and Magda Pecsenye)


Magda Pecsenye writes about parenting at AskMoxie.org and about co-parenting after divorce with her ex-husband at When The Flames Go Up.

Follow her on Twitter at @AskMoxie and join the AskMoxie Facebook page.

Follow her cat on Facebook at Alex the Assassin Cat.


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