The snow is falling. The temperatures are plummenting. The kids are bored. What are you going to do to survive the long winter months?
When my kids were younger, the days seemed to stretch out forever. The summer months flew by, but the winter months dragged at a slow pace. To keep my kids from bouncing off the walls–or destructively bouncing things off the walls–I lined up a variety of fun winter activities to keep them busy. Here are a few which saved my sanity and kept them busy, as well as a few new ones I wish I had known about when they were growing up. Oh heck, even with teenagers, these activities are still fun!
As a youngster, I loved to collect rocks. During the Pet Rock era, my folks were too cheap to buy me one, so I had to make do with an ordinary rock from outside. So I painted myself a brand new pet and made a house out of a shoebox, complete with a kitchen, dining room, and bedroom.
So yes, you can revive the Pet Rock concept with your kids (my neighbor actually paints animal masterpieces on rocks), or you can simply have fun painting rocks in a variety of ways. Even a toddler can have some messy fun with fingerpaints and flat rocks. Paint them a variety of colors, put them in a clear jar, and voila–you have a colorful centerpiece to display in your kitchen window. Challenge your child to paint something simple on a flat rock–perhaps a flower, a sun, or a car. You can get ready for the spring and decorate a large garden rock with a colorful splash of paint from your child. If you find a sizeable flat rock bigger than your child’s hand, capture their handprint on a rock and seal the rock using a clear acrylic spray.
Weekend camping in the house
You’re cooped up with the kids and can’t get outside–time to have some camping fun! Build a tent under the dining room table or set up a pop-up tent. Put sleeping bags inside or simply use your child’s bed covers. Fill a pail with small rocks or dried beans (make sure this is with a child older than three) and stick a flashlight in the pail. Tell “fireside” stories or sing songs with your kids before lights out.
If you have a fireplace, this is a great time to break out the s’mores. You can even roast dinner in the fireplace.
Hunt for Dinner…Or Dessert
It’s two hours before dinner and the kids are whining. They’re tired. Cranky. Restless. What are you going to do? It’s time to go hunting! This activity takes some preparation either the day before or hours before. Gather the ingredients to make dinner or dessert. Be sure to package the ingredients safely. If your recipe calls for eggs, be sure to place an egg in a clear plastic carton so that if it breaks–no harm done. Hide the ingredients either in one room, or all around the house.
When it’s time for the activity, show your child a picture of the finished dinner or dessert. For example, if you’re making brownies from scratch, show a pan of brownies. You can vary this activity by age and degree of difficulty. For a younger child, you can prepare flash cards with pictures of each ingredient. For an older child, you can tell them the total number of ingredients to look for. Then let them loose! Once all the ingredients are gathered, you can prepare dinner or dessert together.
Snow Painting and Balloon Balls
For both of these activities, you’re going to want to dress your child in old clothes with old gloves. Food coloring is not easy to remove from clothing! For Snow Painting, you’ll need empty plastic bottles (you can find these in the Dollar store) or simply save and rinse ketchup and mustard bottles. Fill the bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring. Go outside after a fresh snowfall and squirt the liquid on the snow. Make colorful patterns or objects. When you are done, go to a second floor window and take a picture of your creations.
For Balloon Balls, fill a ballon with water and add several drops of food coloring. Be sure to leave some room for expansion. Tie the balloon shut and place in freezer. Place a hula hoop upright in the snow and have fun throwing the balls in the hoop. You can also leave the balls outside as a colorful winter decoration.
If you’ve run out of ideas, you can always pick up on of the 100 Winter Activities list and try something new. Keep a list of winter activities in a jar and let your kids pick one from the jar. Of course, you can always ask your kids for their winter activities ideas as well!