If you live in the midwest or northern part of the country, you are more than familiar with winter weather that keeps our children inside; too cold, extreme wind chills, and snow that’s too icy to actually play outside. Keeping your children occupied and engaged is definitely difficult. With the added challenges of children being home more than usual during school days and some parents working from home, the struggle is real.
Children tend to spend a significant amount of time indoors in the winter by default. This leads to them watching more television, playing video games, and inactivity. What do you do when you need to work or they are complaining “I’m bored!” ? Well, back when some of us were young, boredom led to either trouble or creativity. Hopefully, we can encourage more of the latter. How do we pull them away from their screens and interest them in something creative and fun that they can pretty much do themselves for a while?
Here are some suggestions that are SIMPLE, pretty much FREE, and perhaps once it gets nicer outside, the kids can take outdoors as well.
We find that these simple activities work with 3 year olds as well as 10 year olds here at KCCC. In fact, sometimes we have to work to get them to stop so they can move on to another activity in our daily routines.
1.) Paper Airplanes – You may have to make one or two for your little ones or maybe even show your older children how to make one. Once made, they can decorate, color, and fly them to their heart’s content. See how far they go, see if they loop-de-loop or even race if you have two children to keep entertained.
2.) Toss and Shoot – All you need is a target like an empty box, clean garbage can, basket, or even place a blanket on the ground and something to use to toss and shoot like a soft ball, a rolled up sock, a balloon, a small stuffed animal, etc. How many can you land in/on the target in 30 seconds? Who can land three on the target first? Score points for center, edges, or big areas.
3.) Indoor Bowling – At KCCC, we’ve used oversized bowling sets, paper towel or toilet paper tubes, cardboard blocks, and even play cups or food from the kitchen for pins. They can use a small ball, a pretend piece of fruit, or really anything that rolls for a ball. We’ve used masking tape or painters tape to help them set up the pins by placing markers on the floor or rug. They just love setting it up, knocking them down, and doing it again and again!
4.) Indoor Camping – Kids love to pretend they are camping! We have been known to set up small tents or use large empty boxes to place a sleeping bag and “camping equipment”. Ms. Michelle has used hot glue to make a campfire using paper towel rolls, colored tissue, and battery operated twinkle lights. The kids like to turn off the lights and use flashlights and “roast” marshmallows (cotton balls hot glued or strung onto metal skewers or dowel rods). She’ll place kids sized beach chairs around the “campfire” too. Oh the power of flashlights! They can’t have enough time to play camping. We enjoy the conversations and creativity from the kids.
5.) Scavenger Hunt – Hide any number of items around the house or in a specific room like 10 single socks, eggs from Easter, or small stuffed animals or balls. You could hide 10 items of the same color and use post it notes to number them. Give the kids a certain amount of time to find them and see how many they can find. There are SO many ways to change this game up! Use YOUR imaginations and THEIRS! Kids come up with the best ideas sometimes; ones you would never have thought to do.
6.) Domino Reaction – At KCCC, we have all sorts of blocks and objects in our classrooms that the children like to set up in a domino style chain reaction track. This lets them be creative, patient, work together or solo, and problem solve. After a few tries, they start to figure out what works best and the older children may even try more challenging chain reactions like having a domino knock a super ball off a table to start a new chain reaction that’s on a chair or the floor. This could keep them busy for hours!
7.) Play Catch – Use a soft ball or balloon to toss in a circle or back and forth and count how many tosses you can make without dropping the object or letting it hit the floor. Make it even more challenging by taking one step back after each toss. This of course, depends on space and what room you will allow them to play this.
8.) Create a Book Nook or Cozy Corner – Use blankets or sleeping bags, some “loveys” or “snuggies” to read with or to, of course, some of their favorite books or even some new books they’ve never seen or read, and maybe even place some snacks (choose easy to clean up like small crackers, popcorn, or mini pretzels) in their quiet place to read.
9.) Jigsaw Puzzles – Place a variety of sizes and maybe even a big one like 100 or 500 pieces for everyone to continue to add to over time on an extra table. You can set up a card table just for the big puzzle and some of the smaller puzzles can be left in their boxes to bring to a space where the puzzle can be completed.
10.) Big Cup Building – For less than $10, you can purchase a party pack of plastic drinking cups. Heck, you may just have a few stacks in your house already. From age 3 to 10, stacking and building cups is a big hit here at KCCC! The children will stack and build “rooms”, “castles”, towers, walls, forts, then knock them down and start all over with a new idea. This one is definitely a favorite! If you have yard sticks or rulers, they can even make doorways and windows. If you don’t already have a package of cups, please invest in a set. It will be the BEST $10 you’ve EVER spent!
Have fun and enjoy these activities! We know WE do EVERYDAY at KCCC!