One of the hardest times for me as a parent is when I have to think of indoor activities for my children to do.
Now that it’s winter, I realize just how important outdoor exercise is to children. When they’re outside, kids can let loose, burn off steam, and get their blood flowing.
But, when it’s below freezing outside and drizzling rain, I have to brainstorm activities to keep my little tykes busy and out of my hair.
I don’t have a magic bag like Mary Poppins but I think that I’m pretty creative when it comes to rainy-day activities.
Whether you live in Chicago, Illinois or Tampa, Florida, I have some great indoor activity ideas for your kids. I’d rather not let my kids watch too much T.V. so all of the following activities are screen-free.
1. Alphabet Round-Up
This game is perfect for kids aged 4 to 6 who have a familiarity of alphabet letters and the sounds that they make. Tell your kids they have to find objects starting with each alphabet letter.
For instance, for the letter “A,” kids should find an object that begins with A and so on. Have your children arrange their objects from A to Z on a table. See if they can find a household object or toy for each letter of the alphabet..
2. Building a Tent
Little children love playing pretend and they have such sparkling imaginations. Assemble a makeshift tent out of chairs and blankets. Let your children pretend they’re camping.
Stick a few marshmallows on some kitchen chopsticks and make a pretend fire out of Lincoln Logs for your kids to “roast marshmallows” on.
3. Silly Dance-a-Thon
Hold an indoor Dance-a-Thon. Play your kids’ favorite songs that require body actions and motions. Children develop coordination skills when they move along to these kinds of songs.
Let them be silly and get all that energy out. My kids love singing and doing the motions to the following songs: “The Hokey Pokey,” the “Baby Shark” song, and “Shake Your Sillies Out.”
4. Who Can Build the Tallest Tower?
Hold a competition using mega-size legos or building blocks. Ask your children, “Who can build the tallest tower ever?” If you have more than one child have them try to work together to build a tower.
While you’re busy doing something else, you can keep saying, “No, it’s not tall enough. Keep going! See if it can reach the ceiling.”
5. Easy Castle-Building
Save up a few of the following items ahead of time: a few rolls of cardboard toilet paper, paper towel inserts, small food containers (cereal boxes or snack packages), and small plastic cups.
Assemble all these items on a table. Help your child tape them together to form a “castle.” Use the cardboard toilet paper rolls for turrets and upside-down cups for the top part of the castle. Then get out some tempera paints, glue, and stickers.
Your child will want to decorate his or her “castle.” I did this activity with my daughter and it kept her busy for two hours!
6. Laundry “Treasure Hunt”
Surprisingly, my 5 year-old daughter loves this game. I have a huge mound of clean laundry on my bed and say, “Let’s play treasure hunt!”
Then, my daughter has to search through the mountain of laundry and search for all the “treasures.” I tell her that the “treasures” are only the clothes that belong to her. She has to assemble her clothes into one pile to see how much “treasure” she can gather.
Gradually, I’m trying to teach her how to fold her own laundry too.
7. Hide the Toy
Have your kids pick out a special toy. Designate one person to hide the toy.
Then everyone else has to find where the toy is hidden. If your kids are old enough you can teach them to say “hot” if people are getting near the toy and “cold” if people are searching too far away from the toy.
Once they’ve mastered game, play hide-and-seek. Surely, every parent knows how to play this game!
8. Build a City-Farm-Zoo Landscape
Sometimes, when my kids are super bored I pull out the following toys: my son’s train set, my kids’ barn and animal set, and tiny dolls. I tell my children, “You need to build a huge city/farm/zoo.”
I encourage them to build an intricate landscape that’s a city, farm, and zoo all in one. If they’re really enjoying the activity they assemble a beautiful miniature scene, complete with a train track running through it and little dolls “walking” around.
My kids love this game and they do the entire thing on their own!
9. Dress up like Mommy or Daddy
If you have any outfits that you don’t mind your kids trying on lay them out on your bed.
Let your kids play “Dress Up for the Ball”. My daughter loves to try on my dresses for fun.
10. I Spy
If you’re new to this game, I’ll explain it. One person chooses an object in the room and then says, “I spy something _____.”
This person fills in the blank saying the dominant color of the object that they’ve chosen.
Then, everyone else has to guess what the mystery object is. Whoever guesses correctly then gets to take a turn being the object-chooser.
11. Cookie/Graham Cracker Decorating
Cookie-decorating doesn’t have to be for Christmas-time only. Grab some plain gingerbread cookies or graham crackers. Set them out on a table with squeezable containers of decorative icing. (I have Wilton 4.25 oz. containers of icing from my local grocery store.)
Let your kids decorate their own cookies. If they’re too young to squeeze the icing out themselves, squirt some onto a plate for them. Let them use a small knife or spoon to spread out the icing.
You can add raisins or sprinkles for an extra touch. Things will get messy but your kids will be happy.
12. Play-do and Kinetic Sand
What kids don’t like playing with these? I haven’t yet bought kinetic sand but I’ve heard that you can purchase it from WalMart, Target or Amazon.
13. Watercolors and Tempera Paints
When I’m really out of ideas I let my kids paint.
From my observation, whenever my kids are upset, this activity helps them to calm down.
14. Online Free Audio Stories
Did you know that you can access free stories online for your kids to listen to? I recommend the following websites for kids’ audio stories:
Between the Lions: Folk Tales and Fables and Storyline Online.
Hopefully, I’ve given you some indoor activity ideas for your kids to do during the winter. Luckily, before we know it the weather will be warming up. Until then, may your children have fun exercising their creativity when cooped up indoors!