When consecutive cold, wet winter days trap children indoors, pent-up energy threatens to shatter family peace like a crystal vase tottering on the edge of the counter. What’s a parent or grandparent to do?
As my friend Erin says, “Busy hands are happy hands,” so creating substitutions for outdoor play keeps children occupied in constructive ways and provides cold-day benefits such as:
- releasing energy.
- cooperating with others.
- learning new vocabulary.
- laughing and having fun.
- fostering curiosity and creativity.
So why not build a collection of activities to burn energy, entertain restless children, and add fun to winter days? Here’s a list to get you started:
Quiet Solo Activities
- Provide audio books and encourage kids to retell stories to favorite stuffed animals.
- Draw pictures for grandparents or a sick friend.
- Give each child an inexpensive magnifying glass. Encourage exploration of household objects, including coins if they’re past the swallow-what-I-see stage.
- Provide small notebooks and ask children to be good detectives as they note family members exhibiting traits such as kindness, forgiveness, and generosity. Younger children can draw pictures.
- Provide a collection of magnets and list items the magnet will attract or repel. Let children take turns spelling smile on the refrigerator.
- Place ice cubes in clear containers in different locations. Log the times it takes them to melt.
- Go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gCwNvHcuII0 and find “6 Cool Science Experiments With Water To Do At Home.” In one experiment on this site, grapes respond differently in tap water and sparkling water. Older children can perform experiments for younger siblings.
- Add food coloring to water bottles to discover recipes for secondary colors: e.g. red + yellow = orange. Then children can rearrange the bottles to illustrate each combination.
- Make snowmen and snowballs from modeling clay or dough.
- Create puppets by adding bits of felt and wiggly eyes to strainers, plastic spoons, or paper plates.
- Create shoebox dioramas with a favorite story or topic as the theme.
- Draw snow pictures on dark construction paper with white crayons. Dot on white paint snowflakes with cotton swabs.
Dance and Drama
- Perform puppet shows of Bible stories.
- Play Charades.
- Divide into two teams. Team A receives a photo of family fun and gives clues to Team B. Team B asks questions to determine which event the photo represents.
- Dance to classical music. Add scarves to wave through the air.
- Cover a table with a blanket or sheet to form a tent. Celebrate a stuffed animal’s birthday in the tent.
- Build creative block towers. Award prizes for the most colorful, the tallest, the most realistic, etc.
- Create a cardboard box hospital for dolls and stuffed animals. Add colorful bandages and let budding physicians work.
- Build card houses with older children.
- Challenge children to balance a beanbag on their shoulders, hands, or head as they walk on a floor-level balance beam.
- Imitate animal movements by sliding like a snake, lumbering like a bear, or crawling like a crab.
- Exercise to music (Goal: “get the wiggles out”).
- Add stretches and exercises to a game of “Simon Says.”
- In a safe space, set up relays with cotton balls and spoons.
- Choose age appropriate puzzles for each child. Pairs can work together and take turns adding pieces.
- Large floor puzzles and US map puzzles are fun for all.
- Psst! Complicated jigsaw puzzles tempt teens to join in. Leaving the puzzle on the table may spark informal conversation later.
- Glue magazine pictures onto poster board and cut into puzzle pieces. Cereal boxes make great puzzles, too.
- Visit local indoor points of interest like a museum, planetarium, indoor garden, skating rink, or theater.
- Go bowling and emphasize good sportsmanship.
- Cheer for the home team at a basketball game. Gyms are good places to teach audience manners because being quiet and still are not as important as in other locations.
WARNING: Plans may result in sullen children, arguments, and temper tantrums. Do not accept blame or become discouraged and refuse to give up.
ADVICE: Pray for guidance and try again later. Observe what children like best and trust God for creative plans. SOME of your ideas will work SOMETIMES.
Please contribute your own suggestions in the comment section to add to our collection!
A merry heart does good, like medicine,
but a broken spirit dries the bones.
• Proverbs 17:22 •
in the Quiver