Maybe recess is too short at your child’s school. Or maybe sports teams aren’t offered at school. Whatever the reason, a child with unspent energy requires creative solutions, and that’s doubly true when it’s cold, wet and dark outside. 

Try these fun, wintertime activities to help your kids blow off steam.

Take a rainy-day puddle walk…and jump — Pull out the umbrellas, raincoats and rubber boots, and head outdoors to find the best puddles.

Play Chinese jump rope — Unlike traditional jump rope, this can be played indoors. 

Tie 16 feet of elastic cording or linked rubber bands in a circle. Two players step inside the band and pull it taut at ankle height. 

They then design a series of jumps that the other players must do in a steady rhythm, without hesitating or missing. 

Common jumps are landing with both feet outside the band (“out”), both feet inside (“in”), one inside and one outside (“side”) or both feet on top of the band (“on”).

Choose an active video game — All ages can enjoy games such as Dance Dance Revolution, Wii Fit, Wii Sports Resort and Just Dance. 

Younger children might enjoy following along with your yoga or Pilates video.

Play balloon volleyball — In a large, clear space, outline a court on the floor with tape and tie a string across the middle to create the volleyball net. Strips of fabric or napkins tied to the string make it more visible. 

Players take turns serving a balloon over the net and swatting it back and forth until it hits the floor. 

Each side can touch it three times before it must go over the net.

Build a fort — Pull together blankets, cushions and a table or sofa. Clothespins or large paper clips are handy, and a flashlight adds to the fun.

Create an arcade target toss — Collect a few lightweight targets: toilet-paper tubes, empty milk cartons or empty cereal boxes. 

Next, supply each player with rolled-up socks, foam balls or Ping-Pong balls. 

Pick a safe spot for your arcade, such as a hallway free of breakables. Set up the targets on a small table or flat chair. Mark the throwing line about 10 feet away with a belt or piece of string. 

Have the kids decide how many throws each player gets to knock down the targets.

Suit up for soccer or football — A little rain won’t hurt! Bundle up your child to keep warm.

Try a penny hunt — Use a large, open room for this game, and remove any objects that would be dangerous if children crawled into them or knocked them over. 

Give each player a paper bag. Blindfold each player, and then scatter 20 or 30 pennies on the floor. (Use envelopes instead of pennies if you have babies or toddlers in your house; pennies are a choking hazard.) 

At your signal, each player crawls on hands and knees, feeling for pennies. After three minutes, call off the hunt, and each player counts his or her pennies. The player who collects the most pennies wins. 

Play hide-and-seek — This oldie-but-goodie never goes out of style. For an alternative, hide an object such as a thimble or plastic measuring cup in a defined area. 

The catch: the object must be in plain sight — that is, visible without moving or opening anything. 

Throw a dance party — Put on your kids’ favorite music and get those legs moving! 

Explore local community centers — You’ll often find free sports, music, games and gardening at your city community centers.

Play action charades — Split into two teams. Each team writes names of adventure movies, funny cartoons, or comedy TV shows on slips of paper. 

Teams take turns picking a slip from the other team’s collection and silently acting out the action and characters of the show until the team guesses the name. 

Time each actor. The team with the shortest overall time is the winner. 

CYNTHIA SVENSSON, PT, is a physical therapist at Pacific Medical Centers. Pacific Medical Centers ( also has locations on Beacon Hill, First Hill and Northgate.