Stuck inside for the winter? Let me give you some ideas for winter indoor activities for kids of all ages, so you don’t have to put them in front of the TV or hear “I’m boooooooorrrrrrreeeeedddd…” – after all, your children can only stay outside for so long, right?
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Indoor Activities for Kids This Winter
I’m still pretty new to the parenting game, but there comes a point – usually by the beginning of February – when I begin to lose my mind, usually prompted by my stepson wistfully looking outside and sighing, “I wish we could go to the park.” Yeah kid, I know, you’re tired of being inside, so am I.
And from there, it often snowballs (pun fully intended) into a bad situation. He whines. I get annoyed. I start snapping. He whines some more. And by the time my husband makes it home from work, I’m a growly mess and feeling like a failure as a mom. And we’re still stuck inside the house!
This year, my goal is to prevent that from happening. Luckily, Zach is pretty good about playing on his own most of the time, and Abby is just an easy-going little toddler. But I know the situation is going to happen – and as the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! So here’s some of my plans to entertain children over the winter – I thought I’d share it with you and see if I can help you too!
Winter Activities For Infants and Toddlers
Abby is currently seventeen months old, and her favorite activities right now are anything to do with her baby dolls, and putting things in other things.
In order to work with the latter, I’ve recycled an old puffs container – you know, tall, skinny – and bought some colored craft sticks. I cut a line in the lid and she takes the sticks and pushes them through the hole. Super simple, but she loves it. Plus, this is so lightweight, it’s a great activity to toss in your purse or backpack and bring along to church, a restaurant, the doctor, or anywhere you’re going to be stuck waiting. I like using the colored sticks because I can help her identify the colors, plus, this becomes an easy-to-upgrade activity when they get older – cut multiple slits in the lid, mark around each slot in a color that matches the color of the sticks, and you’ve got a fun color-sorting activity!
I also made this activity using pompoms and an old sour cream container. Clean the container well, cut a hole in the top just a little bit smaller than the pompoms, and they can enjoy pushing the pompoms in. This keeps Abby occupied for a long time!
Another activity with pompoms – find printable coloring pages with simple shapes, or make your own. Have fun putting the pompoms inside the lines. Sort them by color. Put a rainbow on the page or several hearts or stars or circles. You can have them colored in and play “match the color” or leave them more open-ended.
You can also make a sensory bin – I keep rice and ground-up oats around for sensory bin purposes, although my daughter’s favorite thing tends to be the dog food ?. I also have small plastic animals from the dollar store that can “roam” through the “dirt.”
Those plastic animals can do double duty – use some masking tape or painters’ tape and tape them to a wall. Taking the animals off the wall can keep a toddler occupied for a little while!
Combine that tape with the pompoms or other small toys – put a line of tape on the floor and then have your toddler practice putting things on the tape.
There’s always the option of fingerpainting – make sure you have a good set of washable fingerpaints and some thick paper for painting on. Choose what colors your child uses and turn the paper into valentines for family members! You can always put the paper and paint in a large freezer bag to limit the mess, or put it in a “shakeable” container with some small objects (balls, beans, rice) and let your child rattle it around.
Winter Activities for Preschoolers
You can alter some of the above activities to be more appropriate for a preschooler – for instance, getting to “color” a picture with pompoms or painting valentines for friends and family.
Another simple activity you can do with pompoms (or, for more fun, mini marshmallows!) is letting them “trace” their name or the letters in the alphabet in general. This can help them learn their letters and provide some manual dexterity practice (and if you use marshmallows, a snack!).
Add some fun to your day with a dance party. The movement will be good for you, and if you’re in a funk, this can help you bust out of it!
Make your own play snow – combine baking soda and unscented shaving cream. You’ll have to experiment a bit with the ratio (it’s really hard to give an amount for shaving cream!) but it can make a great play snow and bonus, once you’re done playing with it, it’s an excellent soft scrub if you need to clean anything!
Make suncatchers – next time you’re at a gas station, grab a couple large plastic drink lids (the transparent kind). Get some tissue paper and some craft glue. Help your child glue paper scraps to the lid, then hang it in the window and have a bright spot of color!
Have a movie day – serve hot chocolate and popcorn, cuddle up with blankets, and enjoy a fun movie. Many streaming services have a free trial if there’s something in particular you want to watch.
Poke holes in foam plates and use yarn to make your own lacing templates.
Get creative with crayons, construction paper, and paper plates. Can you make a paper plate into a dog? A rabbit? A cow? A fish?
A lot of the activities in the next section can be used for preschoolers as well (with modifications).
Winter Activities for School-Aged Children
Make cookies. For younger children, you might want to do some easy slice-and-bake cookies. Older children, you can walk them through the process step-by-step.
Make edible cookie dough – toast your flour in your oven and find egg-free recipes (or take your lives into your hands and just eat regular cookie dough – no judgment here).
Have a “snowball” fight. Get some foam balls and make sure the breakables are put away. You can make a fun popper for these by cutting the bottom off a cup and the top third off of a balloon. Pull the remaining portion of the balloon over the edge of the cup and put your foam ball inside. Pull the stem of the balloon to make it “pop” the foam ball out.
Make paper snowflakes. My personal favorite method of doing them? Use coffee filters! Color the coffee filters with markers, drop rubbing alcohol on the colored areas and let it dilute the color and spread it out, let it dry, then fold it into half and then thirds to cut your snowflake!
Use construction paper to make paper chains – the same way you probably did it as a child. Brightly colored decorations will help cheer up your house and beat the winter blues, and using a glue stick can be great fine motor work for younger kids. Don’t want to cut all those strips? You can get pre-cut paper strips – they even come in neon, florescent, and even holographic designs! Have older kids? Learn to fold a Moravian star!
If you’ve got those pompoms, place down tape “start” and “finish” lines and use straws to blow them and race.
Use mini marshmallows and toothpicks to build structures. Who can make the tallest?
Take those googly eyes and go throughout the house adding them to objects. You may get a laugh when you open the bathroom cabinet and your toilet paper is staring back at you!
I hope this gives you some ideas for winter activities when you’re stuck inside. There’s always Pinterest too!
Do you have anything you’d like to add to the list? Let me know in the comments!