Sick of hearing “I’m bored!” from your older kids? Entertaining tweens indoors can be challenging, as they tend to turn their noses up at all suggestions that don’t involve technology! So if you’re looking for alternatives to plugged in activities, here are 25 of the best indoor games for kids aged 8-12 yrs, that will be sure to keep everyone happy!
The kids will be driving you and each other crazy in no time if they’re feeling cooped up, so get them started with one of these indoor games for kids and then listen for the laughter!
Best Indoor Games for Kids
#1. What Am I Eating?
My tween loves playing this game with his friends. They blindfold one person and raid the cupboards to find items for them to taste. Things like honey, soy sauce, mustard, frozen pea, marshmallow etc. all work well.
The blindfolded person must try and guess what they have been given to taste. Make sure you check for food allergies before playing this game. And it is probably best to supervise the food choices!
#2. He Said She Said
A fun way to get the kids’ imaginations going.
Each person gets a piece of paper and a pen/pencil. They write the first few lines of a story, fold the page until the last line or last few words of the previous person’s story is only visible, and pass the paper over the to next person, who writes the next few lines, and so on until the page comes back to the original author.
Since each child cannot see all of the previous person’s story, they must write their lines based on one sentence/word. The resulting mixed-up stories will invariably bring much laughter.
#3. Play Alphabet Chat
Challenge each other to talk for a minute each without using words beginning with an agreed letter of the alphabet.
#4. Create a Secret Code
Make your own secret code up and write a message to your friends that they have to decode. The Pigpen cipher uses symbols in place of the letters.
#5. Murder in the Dark
One of the best indoor games for kids is ‘Murder in the Dark’! This game is best done at night so that it’s dark when the lights are turned off. Have the kids sit in a circle and close their eyes. You gently tap one child on the shoulder, and they are the murderer. Everyone opens their eyes and you pick a detective.
- The detective leaves the room and waits outside until 5 seconds after they hear a scream.
- The lights are turned off and the other players must mix and mingle around the room. The murderer must tap their victim on the shoulder and whisper into their ear, I am the murderer and you are now dead. The victim must give a blood curdling scream and collapse to the floor.
- Everyone except the murderer, must stand still. Only the murderer can quietly move away, if they choose too.
- The detective enters the room 5 seconds after the scream and turns on the lights.The detective looks at the victim and starts to question everyone in order to identify the murderer. Only the murderer can tell a lie. Everyone else MUST tell the truth.
- Once the detective has decided who they think the murderer is they must touch the accused murderer on the shoulder and announce I am arresting you for the murder of John Smith (name the victim).
- If the detective is right then the murderer can confess. If the detective is wrong then the true murderer can reveal themselves.
#6. Build a Bridge
Set up in teams to build a bridge out of straws that is strong enough to hold 100 pennies. Or build a bridge out of popsicle sticks and other materials.
#7. Paper Aeroplane Race
All you need to make paper aeroplanes is paper and pens for decorating.
First fold your paper aeroplane and then the kids can draw the pilots at the front and the passengers looking out of the windows. Have Paper Aeroplane races and see whose gets furthest.
#8. Sock Wars
For this game you will need 10-20 socks rolled up into balls:
- Divide the room into two equal halves, and place the socks on the line in the middle (you could use masking tape to mark). Divide all the kids into two equal teams.
- When the game starts, the object of the game is to get as many socks onto the other teams side of the room before time is up.
- Team members must stay on their side of the room and toss the socks over to the other sides.
- A team member cannot hold onto a sock for more than 10 seconds before having to throw it.
- You could also add in beach balls of varying sizes with the socks, for variety.
#9. Flying Carpet
Each child, or group of children, stands on a rug or cushion in the middle of the floor. This is their ‘flying carpet’ the only problem is, it is upside down! The object of this game is to turn the ‘flying carpet’ over without stepping off it. If you step on the floor you are out!
More difficult than it sounds!
#10. Murderer Wink
Similar to Murder in the Dark, but with a winking murderer.
- Sit all the children in a circle and get them to close their eyes.
- Pick one player, or 2 if you have a really large group, to be the murderer, by touching them on their shoulder.
- Then get everyone to open their eyes and pick a detective.
- The ‘murderer’ must catch another players eye and wink quickly at them. If you are winked at you die, in a really dramatic fashion of course!
- The detective must try and guess who the murderer is.
- The murderer keeps winking at people until they are all out or they have been caught.
#11. Two Truths and a Lie
Creative indoor games for kids, that don’t require any props of equipment, are always a good idea. To play this game, each person shares three statements, one of which is false and two of which are true. Everyone else has to guess which is the lie.
#12. Balloon Ping-Pong
All you need is some balloons and either table-tennis bats, or make your own bats using paper plates and sticks for handles.
Clear some space in the hall and off they go.
#13. Geography Game
The first person starts with a geographic place name and the next person has to think of a place name that starts with the last letter of the previous place.
For example: BlackrocK – KilbeggaN – NicE – EdinburgH…and so on. See how far round the world you can get!
This also makes a great car game for kids, particularly if they use places they see along the journey.
#14. Play The Minister’s Cat
An old Victorian game where you have to think of adjectives to describe the Minister’s Cat in alphabetical order, e.g. start with “The minister’s cat is an adorable cat”. The next person says e.g. “The minister’s cat is an adorable cat and a bouncy cat” and so on.
#15. Indoor Obstacle Course (with a twist)
Set up some obstacles in the room. Blindfold one player and the rest of the players must lead them through the obstacle course by telling them the way to go. Left to avoid a chair, right 2 steps to avoid a table. etc.
For bigger groups, split them into pairs and let each playing take a turn at leading and navigating.
When you go past the Pass the Parcel stage, you need games that will keep the 8-12 year olds engaged and interested. These highly entertaining party games for tweens are tried-and-tested for party success!
Beetle is a drawing game which you play with dice. Each beetle body part has a number associated with it, and that number must be rolled before can draw that particular body part.
- 6 – Head – one needed
- 5 – Body – one needed
- 4 – Tail – one needed
- 3 – Leg – four needed
- 2 – antenna – two needed
- 1 – eye – two needed
Winner is person who gets their beetle drawn first.
#17. Twenty Questions
One person thinks of a thing or a person and the others have to guess what it is but are only allowed to ask questions that get a Yes or a No. The others must guess by the 20th question. First one to guess gets to pick the next item to be guessed.
Sardines gives a twist to the classic game of hide and seek. Instead of one person seeking and everyone else hiding, one person hides and everyone else seeks.
Once one of the seekers finds the person hiding, they must hide with that person. This continues until there is only one person left seeking, and everyone else is crammed together like sardines in the hiding place. The last person to find everyone else now becomes the new hider for the next round.
#19. Make Up Limericks
Have a go at making up limericks, a limerick has five lines; the first, second, and fifth rhyme with each other, and the third and fourth rhyme with each other. Give the kids a theme, or first line to get them going.
Here’s one by Edward Lear:
There was an Old Man with a beard
Who said, ‘It is just as I feared!
Two Owls and a Hen,
Four Larks and a Wren,
Have all built their nests in my beard!’
#20. Build it High
Using marshmallows and wooden skewers or uncooked spaghetti see who can build the highest stack. You may need a few packets of marshmallows for this game as, if they build it well, they may be able to join several skewers together. To win, the stacks must stay up without help!
While you have the marshmallows out, what about learning how to make a marshmallow catapult?
#21. Chinese Whispers
Kids get such a kick from this, and works well for all ages – the more kids you have for this, the better.
Sit the kids in a circle, and you tell the first child a sentence of sufficient length, which they then whisper into the next child’s ear and so on. See how much the sentence has changed by the time it comes back to the start.
#22. Stop the Bus
- Each person has a piece of paper and draws on columns for these headings Girls Name, Boys Name, Animal, Food/Drink, Place.
- One person says the alphabet silently in their head, then another says “Stop the Bus” and that letter is the initial for the words in each category. e.g. Say the letter is D – Categories could be Dora, David, Dog, Dates, Denmark.
- When everyone has finished you add up their scores for that round, awarding 10 points for a unique answer (one no one else has), and 5 points for a duplicate answer.
- You can come up with new categories as well to play against.
#23. Try to Skip 100 Times Without Stopping
Get the skipping rope out and have a go at skipping 100 times without stopping. Manage that? Aim for 200 now. Check what the world record is for the most skips in 1 minute – can you beat it?!
Classic indoor games for kids never get boring!
Charades can be played with any type of word or phrase, but with kids you may find that movie titles, television programmes and popular tween literature work best.
#25. Hang Man
Hang man is a great game that you can play at home or in restaurants. All you need is a pencil and paper.
- Write down a word, with each letter of the word represented by dashes
- Everyone else tried to guess what letters might be in the word – if they guess a correct letter , that is then inserted into the correct position, if they don’t guess correctly, start to draw the stick man.
- Proceed like so until the word is guessed correctly in time, or the little stickman has been hanged.
A variation of the extremely popular Solitaire, Freecell is a fast-paced and engaging game the is a great brain enrichment activity for your 8-12 year olds.
- Played online, the site features a breakdown of the history and rules of Freecell
- The main difference between Freecell and Solitaire is Freecell is played with all cards facing up.
This classic card game will teach your child how important a good strategy is, especially in card games. The card-swapping Hearts is available in single and multiplayer modes.
- Played online, the site also features a the history of Hearts
- Hearts also features different variations of the game