A yoga teacher leads a group of kids in an indoor yoga class. They sit on their mats and hold their hands at heart centre.

10 activity options for kids when wildfire smoke keeps you inside

The smoke from forest fires raging in Quebec and northeastern Ontario is currently impacting the air quality for many people living in Canada and the U.S. 

When the wildfire smoke found its way to our hometown in the Greater Toronto Area, I immediately kicked our indoor air filtration into high gear. I went out and got a HEPA filter for our living room and kids’ rooms, got some new filters for our furnace, and grabbed some N95s on the way out. My attempt for some semblance of control may be somewhat feeble, but it felt like a good option. The truth is, I’m sad. My simple, go-to parenting move to improve our moods and well-being is to go outside and get some fresh air. Outdoor play is really my favourite for my kids (and for me), and we’re privileged that it is usually always a safe, easy, and free option for our family. 

The truth is, this is a scary climate event. But it doesn’t stop my kids from needing to be active. We won’t be catching frogs by the pond today (which they spent hours doing this weekend) and my son’s soccer is cancelled this week. But we still have some options while we wait for the smoke to move on. 

Here are some simple activity options that are (often) close to home and budget-friendly.

Drop-in community centre programs

Chances are, your local community centre has drop-in programs like basketball, badminton, tennis, etc. all for a very reasonable drop-in price. A quick search will help you find what’s available to you and when.

Indoor pool

Our local pool is $3/person and very close to home. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon or morning together.

Indoor skating rink

Dust off those skates you just put in the basement after skating season and head to your local arena for stick-and-puck or family skate drop-in. This is also a great way to keep cool on a hot day.

Indoor sports dome

Many towns and cities have sports domes, with either drop-in hours or children’s programming. A search in your area should help you find what your town or city has to offer.

Indoor playground

While some community centres offer drop-in play gyms or have indoor playgrounds on-site, there are also plenty of independent indoor playgrounds (especially in major cities). 

A boy runs across a padded bridge at an indoor playground.

Bigger adventures that are further afield/more expensive

If you have time to search for some other activities that might not be as close to home or might require a little extra spending, here are some ideas for you.

Moving your body at home

When in doubt, stay home and find ways to move and be active within your four walls. Some options include: building a cushion fort (and then jumping on it), playing a game of Floor is Lava, or an epic whole-family game of Hide and Seek. And, if you need more inspiration, here’s our list of 50 indoor physical activities for kids.

Stay safe, everyone!

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