Ask Maxwell: Great Ideas for Fun Indoor Activities?

published Nov 1, 2021
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Credit: Beth Grushkin

Rainy afternoons home with my toddlers are turning us into absolute beasts — we’re all so grumpy and I have zero creative energy left. Any ideas for a fun indoors activity that they might not have tried yet?


Dear Grace,

As the father of one girl, I must confess that I feel I never had it THAT hard. Young girls tend to be far less restless than young boys, so I’m guessing that you have at least one boy in your home. I even remember my mother despairing, trying to raise two boys by herself, and frequently giving up. We could be AWFUL, fought often, and were restless as monkeys. I remember a long car ride sitting in the back seat with brother. Each of us had a straw from McDonalds and shot spit balls at one another, covering the rear windows in paper zits until our father stopped the car and threatened to make us walk. We had a lot of fun at their expense.

BUT to stay on topic, I want to throw you a really nice resource that might be of help and will provide you with many, many projects to choose from that will keep toddlers active. This was a book we had as kids and it worked: Steven Caney’s Playbook. As Fuzzymama – a current mama – says in this post about screen free fun:

“I love to find a new great source for screen free fun for my boys and I am sharing my most favorite with you today. … One of my go-to sources for screen free activities is vintage activity books. They have such an appeal of simpler times, when kids spent entire, unscheduled days creating their own kind of play.”

Steven Caney’s Play Book is my absolute favorite. It is still widely available online and at your local library. I love this book for many reasons. Yes, the photos bring me right back to my childhood days of wandering around the neighborhood, making up all sorts of ways to keep myself busy until dinner time.  But, I am also in love with the ideas found inside. This is the ultimate tinker book.”


I agree and urge you to buy a very affordable copy and dive in!

Best, M

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Maxwell Ryan is a father and was an elementary school teacher in NYC before founding Apartment Therapy. He’d love to answer your question: This piece was created for Cubby, our weekly newsletter for families at home. Want more? Sign up here for a weekly splash of fun and good ideas for families with kids.

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