Indoor Activity Ideas (and 1 Outdoor) for This Winter
“I just need my jacket!” was my toddler’s enthusiastic response when I told him it was too chilly to play in his kiddie pool. I thought I had done a great job of explaining the concept of winter to him — until he reappeared 10 minutes later proudly wearing his swimsuit.
Winter will have unique challenges for many this year due to COVID-19, and my family is no different. Rather than spend our days indoors at the public library or a museum, I’m searching for safe activities that my family can enjoy during the colder months. While every family and situation is different, hopefully, you can glean a few ideas from this list.
Go on a bear hunt. When the weather is too bad or you can’t convince your child to venture out, gather all your pillows and chairs to create an indoor obstacle course. Tape two empty toilet paper rolls together to create binoculars and hide a teddy bear at the end of the obstacle course. Now the obstacle course is a bear hunt!
Take a bath. No matter how much I embrace the cold weather, it’s time to pack away the kiddie pool. Now I suggest a bath when my toddler asks to play in the water. While he can have fun with his usual water toys, bathtub paint and bubble bath can help to make bathtime extra special and entertaining. A family favorite is the glow stick bath where we switch off the bathroom lights and toss glowsticks in the water for a magical, colorful bath.
Read a good book. My toddler is still wrapping his brain around the different seasons that we see throughout the year. To help him comprehend it, I’ve started reading him books that talk about the weather and winter. A few classic favorites include “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats and “The Mitten” by Jan Brett.
Learn about other cultures. From Kwanzaa to Chinese New Year, the winter months are packed full of celebrations. Kids love to learn about other cultures and traditions. Mark your calendar for these important holidays and then take the time to read and chat with your family about the history and meaning behind each. You can even find a way to honor or celebrate different holidays.
Focus on the positives. Combat winter blues by focusing on the season’s opportunities. Have everyone in your family list what they love about winter and then see what activities you can create to highlight those positives. For me, I love how the shorter days allow my toddler to enjoy stargazing before bedtime.
Try an experiment. The shorter days also allow children to learn what happens when the sun goes down. This flashlight experiment encourages nighttime exploration. Take advantage of the cold weather by creating ice towers either outside or in your freezer. If snow is in the forecast, the Hero Elementary episode, “Rough Sledding,” will inspire your little ones to create their own ways to enjoy the snow.
Help others. As the temperature drops, it’s important to remember those who may need our help staying warm. Your family can find a cause that matters to you, whether it’s donating socks and gloves to the homeless or building a shelter for stray cats. My toddler will love this easy bagel bird feeder activity and feeding the birds when there’s snow on the ground.
Get crafty. Crafts are a great method for my son to learn about winter. I know he’ll love creating artwork with this easy-to-make snow paint. Recycling cardboard boxes is a lot more fun when using them to construct a Gingerbread Village. I’m always looking for new methods to teach my son about emotions, so this snowman play dough activity is seasonal and essential.
Go outside. It can be overwhelming to bundle up both my toddler and baby for a trek outdoors, but I know the whole family is happier with a dose of fresh air. I’m hoping the adage “there’s no bad weather, only bad clothing” can inspire me throughout winter to get my family outside (while staying safe and practicing social distancing).
Remember the magic. So often as grownups we forget how it’s the small things that create magical memories. We don’t need a family vacation to create shimmering moments for our children. Think back to your favorite childhood memories and try to recreate those for your kids. For me, that involves pillow forts, storytime by the fire, and Christmas lights in unexpected places.
Whether it’s conquering a new hiking trail or constructing gingerbread houses, winter is the perfect season to make new family memories.