What to do when the weather is awful and you're stuck inside with the kids
Activities your kids can enjoy inside (and outside) during the winter
Sometimes even we intrepid "out and about" types can't get out and about. So what happens when your kids turn into Thing One and Thing Two and your house starts to look like Sally's did after the Cat in the Hat arrived? We prevent the stir-crazies with a little creativity. Jump the river: An easy game, using just a ruler and a couple of pieces of string: Spread the strings just one inch apart (using the ruler to measure). Encourage each kid to "jump over the river." Now widen the river by an inch each time. Explain the concepts of narrow and wide. See how far each kid can jump.
Start some indoor seed plantings
Interior decorating: Help the kids figure out one thing they can do to make their room a special place
The Fix-it Family: Put on your "Bob the Builder" caps (literal or figurative) and become home handypeople, figuring out what needs fixing, and doing it!
Make a timeline of each child's milestones. If possible, get some pictures from each developmental stage, and tape or pin them to the appropriate place on the timeline.
Cuban Cooking: Clean out the refrigerator and come up with some new combinations of food based just on what you have there. (My friend Tatiana, who was born in Havana, calls this "real Cuban cooking.") Make sure the kids are involved in deciding what to combine. Explain that this is what people have to do in other parts of the world, just making do with what is available. Grocery stores aren't everywhere!
Make a "Celebrations book." Print out either one page for each day of the year (365 pages, or 183 if you double-side them) or one page for each week of the year (about 52 pages). Put the date at the top and a lot of blank spaces underneath. Then go through and record the dates of significant events in your family's history, anything that's particularly important to each person: Marriages and births, of course, but also "day I graduated from high school" or "my first date with a boy" (for me it was April 12, 1985...who knows why I remember that), "first day Madison said "Mama," "first day Ella went on the potty." Things like that. Then, at a family dinner every week, you can take out your "Celebrations Book" and figure out what you're celebrating that week.
Make homemade musical instruments out of rolled up paper, or paper towel tubes, or rubber bands, or plastic bottle flutes, or water-filled glasses. Here is a site that shows you how to make homemade instruments. Here is another good one.
Indoor Scavenger Hunt, submitted by Pam DeVos. Our scavenger hunt uses the letters of the alphabet. I made 3 columns on a board starting with the letter A-Z and we go around the house looking for the letters or words that start with these letters.
Make actual use of the older toys: Spend a short time (15 minutes max) with your kids sorting through bins and shelves to make a list of toys they haven't used in a while. Separate the list into slips of paper in a hat, then each child pulls out a slip with the name of the toy. They play with it for 10 minutes, then get to choose a new toy if they like.
Fun with Snow
Indoor Snowscape idea submitted by Lisa Roy. Use a plastic pull sled (a large cake pan or the bathtub can be substituted if you don't have one); snow shovel; towels; spoons, toy animals, cars, action figures (my kids like to use Bionicle creations); gloves; snow. Arrange one or two towels on the kitchen or bathroom floor. Fill sled or cake pan with snow, put on some gloves, break out the toys, and ENJOY. If you use a pull sled, use the rope to pull the loaded sled into place on the towels. If you use the bathtub, you can fill a 15+ gallon-sized bin to transport snow to the tub. (Note from Lisa: My kids never tire of this activity, so we keep the necessary "equipment" right outside our back door for easy access.) (Note from editor: My 4-year-old had a great time making her dinosaur figures imitate what happens in The Land Before Time, The Big Freeze.)
Snow Cones (also submitted by Lisa Roy): Make snow cones with real snow. Walmart sells snow cone flavoring, cone-cups, and spoon-straws inexpensively.
Maple Syrup Candy. When the snow is deep and fresh, we like to boil maple syrup and then pour it over freshly collected snow (in a bowl). Depending on how long you boil the syrup, it turns into maple-flavored ice, chewy maple taffy, or hard maple candy. The middle stage is the best. Even in their teens and twenties, my kids have to do maple syrup snow at least once or twice each winter.
Snow candles. When the temps above zero, you can go outside for this. When it's very cold, you can bring a large bowl of snow in or fill in the sink. With your hand or a spoon make a shallow hole in the snow, the approximate shape you'd like the candle to be. (Think upside down glaciers!) Get aluminum foil and use it to press, and line the inside of your hole, drop in wick tied to a stick (the stick will lay across the top and hold the wick steady). Pour in melted wax, fill to just below rim, and let set till firm. When solid remove from snow & foil! This method makes some beautiful unexpected shapes and crinkles on the outside of the wax from the crinkled foil.
Giant-sized igloos, using recycle bins to mold the blocks of snow.
Snow painting. Take an empty used liquid dishwashing squirt top containers (Joy, Dawn, Palmolive etc.) with water with food coloring added. Kids love to squirt the snow to make *drawings* or color snow sculptures.
Bubbles. Try blowing bubbles outside and see how they freeze!
Save the snowman! Channel your inner Bill Cosby (who remembers his Junior Barnes story?): At the end of winter, make a small snowman for your freezer and unveil him on July 4th. You can place bets on how long you think summer frosty will last and toss around a few snow balls you can save too.
Please email us if you have additional suggestions.
5 rainy day toddler activities from American Baby. It works for snowy days too!
Winter Gardening Activities for Kids from the Green Mountain Gardener.
Help your child create an original book from a story/artwork: This service is from "Tikatok.com" but there are others that do this as well.
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