Indoor activities to help your kids bust out of the winter blues
Tired of hearing your kids complain that they’re bored? Too cold to play outside in the snow? If winter weather has you stuck indoors, we have a solution for your cabin fever! Try these easy, inexpensive activities to get your little ones out of their winter rut! And bonus: most of them won’t even require a trip to the store for supplies! So heat up the hot chocolate and get ready to hear your kids squeal with excitement over interactive new activities!
Color mixing experiment
Supplies: Washable paints, egg carton, paint brushes, paper or canvas
What to do: All kids love to paint but when you let them create custom colors, the prep portion of this project becomes half the fun! I use an old plastic egg carton but you can use whatever you have around. Then let your child choose which colors to add to each opening. Once the paint has all been poured, let them mix each color combination to find out what hue they’ve created! Then let the painting party begin!
Let it snow… inside
Supplies: Bucket, laundry basket, trash can or some other large container, spray bottle, food coloring
What to do: What do you do when there’s a pile of snow in your yard but the temperature is too low for safe outdoor play? Bring the fun INSIDE! Fill a bucket, laundry basket or trash can with snow and pour it into your bathtub. Continue doing this until you have at least half of the tub full of white, fluffy flakes. Then fill a spray bottle with water, add a few drops of food coloring and swirl it all around until mixed. Let your kids spray the snow to change its color or just hand them the sand toys (like shovels and shape molds) and let them loose!
Get creative in the kitchen
Supplies: A kid-friendly recipe, all necessary ingredients, a pile of patience and an appetite
What to do: It’s easy to shoo the kids out of the kitchen before embarking on a baking endeavor but there are so many opportunities for your kids to pitch in and learn while you cook. Let them measure and tell them why the ingredients need to be added in a particular order to make the dish a success. Give your child a bowl and let them practice cracking eggs – that way if they smash shells into the egg, you can pick them out or toss it and let them try again. When you’re finished, you’ll have a tasty treat and a memory your child will cherish.
Supplies: Paper, scissors, small prize or incentive
What to do: No matter how old your kids are, they’ll have fun running around your house and searching for cleverly-written clues. Throw in a little treasure for an incentive and you’ll be their hero! I like to use themes when I make scavenger hunts at my house. My kids love “Jake and the Neverland Pirates,” so a pirate theme is easy enough to put together. All you need is a treasure chest (I wrapped a small mail box in paper and drew a skull and crossbones on it). Then stuff it with play money and a little treat or toy from the dollar store. Bonus points for drawing a treasure map on crumpled paper!
Example clues: Head to the room that is filled with toys, look for a fun gadget that makes lots of noise. (Answer: Inside the bowl of the toy kitchen mixer)
Where are your games? Quick, go see! Pull out the one that makes you all stretchy!! (Answer: Under the Twister box)
Run to the room where you brush your teeth, find the biggest bottle of shampoo and look beneath. (Answer: Under the bulk-sized shampoo bottle)
Toilet paper roll snake
Supplies: Eight toilet paper rolls, markers or crayons, googly eyes, brads for fastening, skewer or small paper punch, small piece of red paper or ribbon
What to do: Let your kids decorate the toilet paper rolls however they like with the markers or crayons (paint would also work). Once they finish, fold in the edges of the rolls in both directions at the openings. This will create two points. Use a skewer or small paper punch to create a small hole in the points of each roll. Line up the hole from one roll with another and use a brad to fasten them together. This will connect the rolls but also allow your snake to have movement between the pieces. On the front roll, use glue to secure two googly eyes. Then add a small piece of red paper or ribbon on the bottom, inside portion of the front roll to serve as the snake’s tongue.
Supplies: Clothing and accessories for your child and for you
What to do: If your kids have a supply of dress-up clothes in their toy bin, then they may be as tired of them as they are of those other forgotten toys collecting dust at your house. So why not try getting in the dress-up spirit with them? Take out that old bridesmaid dress or your sequined New Year’s gown and let your kids put on their dress-up clothes, too. Or put on something completely out of season, like their favorite swimsuit, sun hat and flip flops for the afternoon. Add accessories and then let the imaginary worlds unfold!
Supplies: Colander or strainer and pipe cleaners
What to do: This is another good one for very small kids. All you need to do is show your kids how to put the ends of pipe cleaners into the holes in a colander. This will create shapes and designs that are certain to make your child light up! Just don’t put pasta on the menu for dinner because your child may not be ready for you to ruin their artwork!
Paint in a bag
Supplies: Paint, large plastic zip-top bag
What to do: Toddler can’t be trusted to use paint without sneaking a lick from the paintbrush when your back is turned? Then this one is perfect! Take a large Ziploc bag and squeeze in enough paint to make a thin layer across the whole bag once sealed. Then tape it to your hard-surface floor. This ensures that the paint is contained and the bag won’t go sliding all over the place (or into your kid’s mouth). Then let your little one swipe his or her finger over the bag and watch how the pressure manipulates the paint. Show them how to make a smiley face, their initial or shapes (the floor beneath the paint will show through).
Break the rules
What to do: Get crazy and let the kids do something that is typically off limits. So take off the couch cushions, gather the blankets and make a fort or have a picnic in the middle of the living room. I like to let my kids use my make-up about once every six months. They know that it’s off limits on a daily basis but when they’ve been stuck inside for days, this is a great way for them to be creative and silly. It’s also a lesson in “less is more,” which I’m hoping they’ll remember in their teen years.
Supplies: Your imagination
What to do: Sometimes all kids really want is to mix up their daily routine. So why not flip it completely? Declare “backward day” and tell your kids to leave their jammies on when they wake up. Read them a bedtime story and whatever else you usually do before bed. Then serve a dinner item, like spaghetti, in the morning. Your whole daily routine can be switched. Then at night, make pancakes and sausage or whatever breakfast food they love. Let them change into their day-time clothes before heading to bed for the night!
– By Emily Shedek