A child with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has a shorter attention span, which could hinder their day-to-day activities. Therefore, after-school activities that can enhance their attentive skills are valuable. In addition, these activities may also help them drain their extra energy and channel it better.
Here, we bring activities for kids with ADHD that can be conducted indoors and outdoors. These activities range from light, fun activities to exhausting yet entertaining physical activities.
21 Activities For Kids With ADHD
To make these games more interesting, you may also introduce some props.
10 Outdoor Activities For Kids With ADHD
Connecting with nature while having fun can provide peacefulness, relaxation, and the daily physical exercise for children. So find out the interesting outdoor activities besides the usual running and biking activities from the list below.
1. Group activities
Activities such as gymnastics, martial arts, yoga, or tennis are a good option for children with ADHD to expend their energy. Structuring such activities also helps them avoid any confusion and provides better access to the activity. Furthermore, these activities form the basis for socializing and forming new friend groups. Start weekly and observe your child’s comfort level to create new activities as time progresses.
2. Independent activities
Not just group playtime activities, even independent ventures can help them channel their energy in the right direction. These may include activities such as riding, swimming, or running. Independent activities could be a preferable choice for those children who find socializing and large groups overwhelming. These activities also reflect on improving self-control skills. Set targets on distance or number of laps to make these activities more interesting.
3. Treasure hunt
A scavenger hunt is an activity that provides unlimited access to creativity. Your child can play it indoors and outdoors. You could also club treasure hunt with other activities of your child’s choice. It could be a fun way to expel excess energy by including intense activities, such as running or jumping.
With safety precautions, a trampoline is an interesting outdoor activity. Side-tracking the basic jumping routine on a trampoline, you could play catch with your child while they are hopping on the mat. You could also have a group trampoline activity where a person sits in the center with arms and knees close to their heart and the rest jump around trying to move their position. Simultaneously, you could also try trampoline basketball if team sports are of your child’s interest.
There are several outdoor house chores that can be converted into an activity such as gardening, washing a car, painting the fence, or even fixing the roof if they are old and worn out. These activities could also aid in teaching them responsibility and discipline. You could also use these activities to connect and bond with your child.
6. Bubble blowing contest
Bubble blowing is a stress-busting experience for children and adults. You may create your soap solution and a blower (which could be an activity on its own) or get a pre-made pack from the market. It is a simple activity, and all that your child would need is strength to blow and pop the bubbles. To make it even more fun, start a competition within the family on who gets to blow and pop more bubbles. You could also check who could blow the biggest bubble.
7. I spy
The game I spy can be played indoors and outdoors. Although the game is simple, it tests your child’s descriptive and cognitive skills. You and your child could take turns to find who’s hiding. Make running and other deemed physical activities a part of the game to make matters more fun.
8. Puddle jump
If rains soothe your child, then keep their raincoats ready for the next time, as jumping in puddles could be a relaxing activity that they may enjoy. Although it may seem messy, jumping in puddles with no care about the world or staining their dress could be a fun way to blow off the trapped energy. You could also use this nature’s therapy session to organize a rain-themed dance party and help them develop their social skills.
9. Water balloon games
There are several water balloon games your child could use to disburse their extra energy. They can participate in games involving water balloons – such as fights, painting, catches, or playing dodge ball with it. The preparations of this game could be an activity too. Fill the balloon with colorful or plain water and let the children practice their throwing skills. The next day, you could also do an activity after cleaning up the trash.
10. Imaginative play
By combining creativity skills and obstacle games, you could create your own imaginative outdoor play for your child. Place any item you or your child could find on the path, and imagination takes the lead. Add in many riddles, with some physical activity in, and your child would be preoccupied for hours fulfilling the rules of the game.
10 Indoor Activities For Kids With ADHD
Besides the classic indoor games such as puzzles, scrabble, and other board games, there are more fun and interesting options to explore from the list below.
11. Tune-up the house
Music is therapeutic, and you could use this as a means for your child to express their extra energy. Every time you feel like your child is getting diverted, play some soothing music to calm them down or start a dance party to expend that energy. Dancing to tunes and singing along could improve their focus and vocabulary skills while simultaneously lightening up the house. You could also play their music playlist while they help around the house in cooking or cleaning.
12. Mask tape games
A masking tape could be used in multiple ways to make indoor environments lively. Stick the tape around the house in multiple patterns: zig-zag, straight, or curved to create your obstacle course. Pair these tasks with household chores and physical activities, such as jumping, hopping, crawling, or running for more fun. In the end, you could ask your child to clear up the tape.
13. Balance board
A balance board is a low-investment option for a child with ADHD to release some energy. It doesn’t involve a huge setup and is a one-time purchase. A balance board can be found in most children’s toy stores and is available online too. All your child needs to do is balance the plank by steadying their feet on this mini-seesaw. Although minimalistic, balance boards help improve posture, cognitive abilities, balance, and sensory skills and promote mindfulness.
14. Egg race
The egg on a spoon game could be played indoors too, and it is even more challenging this way. Since a house is packed with furniture and fixtures, this simple game could be made into an obstacle course. This game improves their motor skills and balancing abilities.
15. Bubble wrap games
A bubble wrap has been gaining popularity for being therapeutic, and it is not just by popping the bubbles; there are several other ways you could use it to help your child focus. For instance, spread the sheet across the floor and ask your child to pop it with their feet; you could also have a choreographed routine for this activity. These popping sessions would help them navigate their energy levels.
16. Balloon games
There are a plethora of games your child could play indoors using balloons. While blowing them is an activity, other games such as balloon basketball and volleyball are variations you could try. Another variation you could try is hitting balloons while on an exercise ball. If your child is alone and is looking for an independent game, they could engage in bouncing the balloon off the wall or ceiling or playing balloon tennis with it.
17. Hula hoop games
Hula hoops are one-time investments and could be a medium for many games. They are also a great aerobic exercise. The primary activity of hula hooping is fun. After your child has mastered this, you could pair this with simple aerobic exercises. For example, add in more hula-hoops and challenge each other on who could keep the hoop(s) in motion the longest. If you want to make this even more challenging, make hula hooping a part of an obstacle course.
18. Exercise ball
An exercise ball is an interesting prop to help your child focus while letting them blow some steam off. This inexpensive prop is a one-time investment and is versatile too. Even simple bouncing on the ball could be therapeutic. Alternatively, you could ask them to lay the ball on their stomach and see how well they could work on their balancing skills.
19. Word games
You could pair up word games with physical activities. Take the classic word games such as charades, scrabble, and word building, and add a physical touch so that your child stays focused. On finishing two words, they perform a song or play with a jumping rope. You could also have games for the alphabet. For instance, using the alphabet k should follow by an exercise ball. These games could build up their vocabulary and help them stay focused on the play.
20. Arts and crafts
These ideas could never be missed in any activity lists. There is so much your child could do indoors: mandalas, finger-painting, coloring sheets, weaving, model making, etc. Arts and crafts would assist your child in improving their hand-eye coordination, observational and crafting skills and boost creativity. You could also try pairing them with physical activities if your child finds sitting around a chair boring.
Another great indoor activity to do with your child with ADHD is MadLibs. It is a word game that requires you to fill in the blanks with word suggestions given by the audience. The passage is then read out loud. The game will bring upon a cheerful mood as the audience does not know what the passage is about, and the filled-in words are random in nature.
Sharon Huizinga, a mother who was herself diagnosed with ADHD in high school, writes about her experience playing a game of MadLib with her kids, who also have ADHD. She says, “This is definitely not a quiet activity in my house. The giggles are just so contagious! We love filling these out as a family and then crack up as one of the big kids tries to read the story with a straight face. It is the best! (This is also a great learning tool for parts of speech, but don’t tell the kids!) (i).”
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What hobbies are good for kids with ADHD?
Dance, ballet, karate, theater, day camping, scouts, kayaking, fishing, and other sports such as swimming, martial arts, and tennis are some good hobby ideas for children with ADHD. It is better to engage them in individual sports.
2. Are video games good for children with ADHD?
Video games and ADHD have a unique relationship. ADHD symptoms make video games appealing, but playing video games may exacerbate the symptoms as it is something that reinforces the possibility of instant gratification. On the other hand, it can also help develop a sense of control and coordination. Moderate exposure to such games may be the key. Talk to their healthcare provider about its risks and benefits (1).
3. How can parents and caregivers adapt activities to accommodate the needs of a child with ADHD?
First, go through the rules of the game and its objective with the child, along with some skill practice before starting. Adjust the number of attempts and the game duration according to their abilities and attention span. Include visual and tactile cues wherever possible to keep them engaged and shower them with praises for motivation (4). Finally, remember to keep the rules the same for every child if they are playing in a group.
4. What is the best environment for an ADHD child?
Keep the area around them clean and uncluttered, and make sure there are no objects for distraction when they are engaged in some other activity. Moreover, ensure you have a routine and stick to it at home or school. This will help them focus and remain calm. But, if there is a change, let them know beforehand. Finally, keep the choices minimum with maximum hands-on activities and maintain regular one-on-ones to help them communicate and show your love (5).
Engaging children with ADHD in activities may give them ways to expend their energy and learn to concentrate on a single task. Since each activity may have a different effect on a child, we suggest you try all these listed activities for kids with ADHD. These activities aim to improve the participant’s concentration, observation, and creative skills. You may customize each of them as per your child’s preferences or try to combine the activities to boost their enthusiasm. Observe which one brings the most solace to your child and let them participate in the activity whenever feasible.
Infographic: Indoor And Outdoor Games Suitable For Children With ADHD
Children with ADHD have shorter attention spans but higher energy levels; therefore, handling them would require extra effort. While they can participate in any activity they like, you may include activities mentioned in the infographic below to channel their excess energy. These activities will also engage them for a longer time. So, take a look!
- Outdoor activities such as martial arts or gymnastics help children with ADHD channelize their energy better.
- Swimming, running, or a scavenger hunt are effective methods.
- Imaginative plays, a simple balance board, or indoor games with balloons or bubble wraps can help them stay engaged and expel their extra energy.
Personal Experience: Source
i. 15 great ideas to help ADHD kids get through a long winter;
- Laura Masi et al.; Video Games in ADHD and Non-ADHD Children: Modalities of Use and Association With ADHD Symptoms
- Michael O Ogundele; Behavioural and emotional disorders in childhood: A brief overview for paediatricians.
- Yuan-Shuo Chan et al.; Effects of physical exercise on children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.
- Bob Lujano; Adapting Games for Students with ADHD;
- ADHD – ways to help children at school and home;