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Indoor ball games: simple family fun

toddler playing indoor ball games
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Indoor ball games: simple family fun

toddler playing indoor ball games
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When I was writing this I couldn’t help but recall my mum’s voice from my childhood; “no ball games in the house!” Everyone has different feelings around things like throwing and catching games indoors. It’s a good idea to consider your own boundaries and ‘house rules’ with before you embark on these activities. If you’re not comfortable with indoor ball games at all, then you can always play these outside; however these are designed to be reasonably calm and controlled and suitable for playing inside.

Personally, whilst I wouldn’t tolerate a full on game of football in the living room, I’m happy with throwing, catching and rolling soft balls. We tend to play these in the kitchen or hallway, as these are our biggest open spaces with fewest breakables and obstacles. So, that’s the basis that I’ve worked on with these activities.

What you will need

A ball – This can be any kind of ball, a soft foam ball is great for indoors or if you don’t have a suitable ball, then soft toys, bean bags, small cushions etc will work well too

Plastic cups – Any kind of plastic cups that you can stack haphazardly to be knocked over, wooden blocks, Lego bricks, empty plastic bottles would also be good options 

T-shirts – I use these to pop on the floor as targets, anything that will mark an area so it can be aimed for is great, so tea towels, sheets of paper, loops of yarn or string, plastic plates would be great alternatives

Target practice

You will need
A ball: in our picture we’re using crocheted hearts, bean bags would work, as would small cuddly toys
Targets: we’re using folded t-shirt here. You could use hoops, plastic mixing bowls, sheets of paper anythign you can throw onto or into.

How to play: Basically, set out your target/s then throw or roll your ball and try to get it to land on your target. There are loads of variations for this game, for example; use one target that is gradually moved further away each time you hit it. Or you could set up a few targets, each with a different points value, then play against yourself or each other to get the most points or beat your high score. You could have 5 things to throw or get a certain number of attempts per turn. Set up a few targets and ask your child to aim for a different one each time. Not only are indoor ball games like these fun, but ball games and throwing games are good coordination practice too.

Skittles: the ultimate indoor ball game!

You will need
A ball
Plastic cups or bottles

indoor ball games skittles with cups

​How to play: Grab some plastic cups or empty bottles. Set up a few plastic cup towers (one cup placed upside down, and the other stood the right way up on top of it), and then roll or throw your ball to try to knock them down. How many can you knock over in 3 rolls? Who can knock the most down? Like with target practice, you could move further away each time you knock them all over. You can set several up in a ring and the thrower sits in the middle. Another person gives them directions about which to aim for using ‘turn left’, ‘turn right’ and ‘roll’ etc., or you could use compass points depending on the age of your child/ren.

Roll and move: a no-throw indoor ball game

You will need
A ball 

How to do it: Sit opposite a partner with your legs apart so that your feet are touching. Roll the ball between you, each time you get the ball between your partners feet, scooch slightly further away. If you miss then scooch slightly closer together. See if you can keep going until you can’t get any further away from each other

Don’t let it drop

You will need
A ball or soft object

How to do it: Work together to throw a ball between all the players, either in an order or at random. Count the number of catches you manage before someone drops the ball. If you’re really good at catching, then you could time how long you keep continuously throwing and catching. For older kids you can add in speed, and play ‘hot potato’, but this can be overwhelming for younger kids. If the ball hits the floor, start again with counting or timing and try to beat your high score.

Catch and count

indoor throwing game

You will need
A ball or soft object

How to do it: This is a very simple and silly throwing and catching game. Stand or sit in a circle or opposite each other if there’s only two of you. As you throw the ball to someone also say a number. The person who catches it then has to throw the ball in the air and catches it that many times before throwing it to the next person, and saying a number. Keep going round in a circle, or change things up if there’s a few of you by throwing it to a random person, saying their name and a number as you throw.

I would love to hear how you’ve used these ideas and how you and your children have changed and adapted them. What games would you add? Do you have any favourite indoor ball games that you play at home?  

This series contain several blogs all looking at ways to keep the kids entertained with things you have to hand.
We have Things to do with wooden blocks, games to play with lego bricks, activities with a pen and paper, and alternative tech activities.


By Jeni Atkinson – CalmFamily Director and owner of Little Possums preloved

Jeni Atkinson

Jeni is a wonderful, compassionate and inspiring woman. She says “Just because our parenting is gentle doesn’t mean it doesn’t make a difference. The way we raise our children will impact how they feel about themselves & the choices they make as they grow up. I want to see things change in their lifetime, I want to fight back against the childist views of our patriarchal society.

I want to see a world where children are allowed their own autonomy; a world that lets them learn for themselves & make their own mistakes. I want a society where diversity in all its forms is celebrated; where neurodiversity, mental health, sex & sexuality, gender, politics & all these subjects that are shied away from, are talked about openly. I want a society where parents are inspired & supported to make the choices that work for them & their families. Oh, & to save the planet at the same time!”  

Recommend0 recommendationsPublished in Baby play, Childhood play & learning, Family activities, Toddler play
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