The winter months are in full swing, bringing freezing temperatures, gray days, and walloping cold and flu bugs. If you’re stuck inside with the little ones, here are a few fun and simple activities to keep them entertained until warmer weather arrives. Hang in there, parents – spring will be here before you know it! Until then, give some of these activities a try.
1. Couch Campout
Who needs to go to a pricey bounce house when you have couch cushions to hop all over? Let the kids take the cushions and pillows off the couch, and see what they can create. Add some blankets and sheets to create a cozy tent – don’t worry, we won’t tell the kids if you sneak inside for a moment of peace and quiet. To take this “couch camping” adventure even further, have a picnic in the living room. Spread blankets on the floor, and enjoy a snack together. Housekeeping bonus: taking all the cushions off the couch gives you a chance to vacuum under the seats. You will be amazed at what makes its way through the cushions – consider this fair warning.
2. Bring Snow Inside
Getting the kids ready to play outside in the snow can be drudgery. Snow pants, boots, mittens, warm socks, hats, and scarves – the list goes on! By the time the little ones are dressed to brave the elements, they’ve either lost interest, or have to go to the bathroom (cue forehead smack). Avoid the hassle and mess of outdoor play clothes, and bring the snow inside instead! Using a large plastic bin, scoop a few shovels of snow and let the kids go wild inside. Add some food coloring to the snow and create colorful mini snowmen, or make a mini igloo for plastic dolls. For even less hassle cleaning up, toss the snow in the bathtub. When it melts, just wash it down the drain!
3. Craft Paper Coloring
Roll out a long piece of craft paper on the floor, and create a landscape scene together. Get creative! Forest, desert, mountains, beach, ocean – work together to draw as many plants and animals as you can think of, and try to fill up the whole paper!
4. Bath Tub Play
Who says baths are just for bedtime? Tub time is a great way to change up your day. Water is naturally calming for toddlers, but try a few of these ideas to make bath time more exciting. Use food coloring to dye the water (just a few drops will do!), experiment with objects from the kitchen (colander, turkey baster, plastic ware, straws, slotted spoons – you get the idea), or wear a bathing suit in the bath.
5. Rice Bowl Treasures
Pour a bag of rice into a large bowl or plastic container, and add a few surprises to it: magnetic letters, plastic toys, or a piece of candy – whatever you can find in your house. Give your toddler tools such as a spoon, colander, or sifter, and allow them to dig through the rice to find the buried treasure.
6. Water “Painting”
Still have that roll of craft paper handy? Cut a long piece and adhere it to the wall with painter’s tape. Give your little Picasso a cup of water and a paintbrush, and have them “paint” on the paper with water. Easiest. Clean up. Ever. Leave your masterpiece hanging on the wall. When the paper dries, you can reuse it again another day!
7. Stuffed Animal Hide and Seek
Take a few stuffed animal friends and hide them around the house for your child. Make the hiding spots simple at first, and then build up the difficulty to keep your toddler entertained. Have your child collect the stuffed animals in a little red wagon or laundry basket. When all the stuffed animals have been found, give your toddler a chance to hide with them, and start the game all over again.
Mary Kate Bolinder is the creator of The Story Garden, a blog dedicated to children’s literature and creative play ideas. When not writing, you can find her collecting recipes she will probably never have time to make, or tinkering with her camera. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and two sons.