As winter drags on, many of our children go stir crazy when they are stuck inside for days at a time. Whether it is a raging blizzard, cold snaps like much of the country is experiencing now, or long holiday breaks, our boys and girls often find themselves cooped up in the house. For parents and kids, this combination creates the perfect recipe for countless hours spent in front of a screen, sibling fighting, and the dreaded “I’m bored” stage.
To help combat those winter blues and to inspire our children, we have created the following survival guide featuring 7 indoor winter games and activities for kids to keep them happy and regain a little bit of our sanity:
Paint with Marbles.
Painting with marbles is a great way to spend an afternoon and just might be what you need to keep from losing yours. Gather up a handful of marbles, a cereal box cut in half the long way, washable paint, and paper. First, lay your paper inside the halved cereal box and add a few dollops of paint to the edges of the box. Next, place a couple of marbles inside the box and gently roll them back and forth through the paint. This will create colorful trails and patterns on your paper. Do this process until the child is happy with their creation. Remove to dry and start rolling a new masterpiece.
Design a Game.
Encourage a child to design and create their own board games based on their favorite books, movies, or television shows. Simply, find a large piece of cardboard or a piece of posterboard to be the base, supply markers, plenty of cardstock (or cardboard that is easily cut- we like to reuse old cereal boxes), and let them draft their own gameboard. If needed, use commonly played games like Monopoly or Candyland as examples for their unique games. Encourage kids to develop game pieces that fit the characters, plots, and twists. Afterwards, spend an afternoon playing everyone’s game or host a tournament.
Build a Fort.
Being cooped up inside for days at a time can be hard on our sons and daughters. For a change of scenery, bring the outdoors inside and build a fort in the living room. Use sheets, blankets, pillows, couch cushions, and more to craft the perfect hideaway, but don’t forget to supply battery operated lanterns or flashlights. Use the new digs to tell scary or funny stories, eat an indoor picnic, sing campfire songs, or sleep out in the living room to keep the fun going long into the night.
Play with Your Food.
Being stuck inside is the perfect opportunity to get some deep cleaning in the kitchen accomplished. However, our kids often don’t find this chore appealing. Help knock out two birds with one stone by letting the kids create “kitchen tinker toys” from leftover food just laying around unused in the cupboards. Use dry spaghetti, stale marshmallows, leftover gumdrops, forgotten candy corn, or the cereal left at the bottom of the box to build and design statues, bridges, towers, or dinosaurs.
Create an Indoor Garden or Terrarium.
When the weather outside is frightful, bring a little summer inside by designing and growing your own fairy or gnome gardens. It doesn’t matter if you use live plant cuttings or embrace artificial bloom; let the kids craft away the afternoon. While they are dreaming up their little worlds, sneak in a little biology lesson and label the parts of a plant, discuss what plants need to grow, and talk about how plants make their own food. When the weather improves, you can bring your gardens outside for the summer months.
Take a break from watching the snow fly and whip up a batch of yummy goodness in the kitchen. Children love to bake and it is a great way to warm up the house while having a little fun in the meantime. Find a beloved recipe, like Grandma’s chocolate chip cookies, or find a new recipe online to try and encourage kids to measure ingredients, crack eggs, and follow directions.
Make your own Slime, Oobleck, or Playdough.
It’s no secret that kids love to get dirty and play in the kitchen. Tap into their natural curiosity and create a mad scientist lab at your kitchen table. Search online for a variety of slime, playdough, and oobleck recipes for a fun afternoon. If you don’t have the ingredients on hand for that special slime, consider a simple concoction of a ¼ cup of cornstarch and 30 milliliters of water to create oobleck that can be a solid and a liquid at the same time!
What indoor winter games and activities can you share?
Amy Williams is a freelance journalist based in Southern California and the mother of two. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like cyberbullying and online safety. Follow her on Twitter at @AmyKWilliams1.