2016-02-01 / Shorts

Winter Boredom Busters

Kathleen Zdenek

As any parent, caregiver or “kid at heart” knows, winter can be a challenging time to keep little ones engaged when it’s too cold to be outside or the usual activities are cancelled. Here are a few activities for some indoor fun that don’t take a lot of space or materials.

Painting on Foil: Foil is a great household “toy” because its shiny nature is appealing and it’s easy for little hands to enjoy crinkling up. It’s also a great tabletop ice skating rink. Depending on your child’s age, you could put some shaving cream or vanilla pudding on it and let them use their hands to skate through it or even pretend it’s snow! Sensory play will often keep young children engaged for a reasonable amount of time, and cleanup can be fun, too, as they wash away the snow or as a perfect transition to bath time.
Popsicle Painting: By adding a little food coloring or Kool-Aid powder to water, pouring it into ice cube trays, and adding a popsicle stick before freezing, you can make your own paints. If it’s cold enough outside, let the paints freeze on the deck just for fun. Use any sort of thicker paper (even brown grocery bags will work) to paint and enjoy watching your paints shrink. This is a favorite for toddlers and older kids alike.

Sticky Art Walls: Using painter’s tape to hang contact paper — sticky side out — is another fun way to keep little hands busy indoors. Get creative by having them do trial and error to see what will stick and what is too heavy. Or create a themed collage using pictures from old magazines or even let your children build their hand strength by practicing cutting or tearing construction paper to stick to the contact paper collage. For smaller children it can be fun to pull and stick cotton balls and pretend they are making it snow on the window.

Packing Peanut Snow: If you received a package that used plain corn starch packing peanuts to keep your shipment safe, you can have a whole afternoon of fun. With just a little water the packing peanuts become sticky enough to build with, so your little one can make a tabletop igloo or other structure. For some science fun, paint them with watercolors and watch them dissolve. Plus, the peanuts can always be used for an indoor snowball fight!

When sitting still and creating is just not an option, there are many great ways to help expend energy on those days that are just too cold to go outdoors.

Story Time Movement: Sometimes a little structured movement activity is important too. A number of great stories are adaptable to movement activities, including Jan Brett’s “The Mitten.” Pretending to be the different animals before snuggling into a blanket (as the mitten) is a ton of fun and can last a while. Kids can take turns leading the story once they become familiar with it, and these experiences will often be repeated independently.

Indoor Snowball Fight: This is a favorite and can be turned into a variety of games. By wrapping white yarn around an adult’s four fingers numerous times (the more times, the larger the snowball), pulling it off slowly, tying it tightly in the middle and then snipping the looped ends, you can make a soft and safe snowball! (This can also be a therapeutic crafting activity for adults.) When just tossing them around gets boring, create a fort to try and get them over or try your shooting skills by aiming at a laundry basket.

Indoor Ice Skating: Who knew this could be done indoors? By putting wax paper over your child’s foot and taping or using a loose rubber band around the ankle to secure it, they can skate, skate, skate. Painter’s tape in an outline on the floor can become a road or skating rink when a little crowd control is necessary.

Snow Bowling: If you have any containers (oatmeal, baby puffs, etc.) in your recycling, pull them out, remove the labels and turn them into snowmen or penguin bowling pins with washi tape and Sharpies.

Kathleen Zdenek is a youth yoga instructor and early childhood education specialist who leads classes at The Makery and Wellness in Motion Studio.

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