There is a deep-seated urge in many of us to hibernate when the days are short and the wind is howling outside. The winter sunshine looks splendid from indoors, and the bit of heat beaming through the window is a welcome reminder of warmer days to come. We try to get out at least for a while every day, unless it is a snowstorm or bitterly cold.
However, since we became parents, it has become imperative to find ever-changing activities to do indoors on those cold, snowy days. It is so alarmingly easy to fall back on screen time as a way to keep everyone happy, whether a television screen, a computer or other device. Everyone loves television, don’t they? The only problem is that sometimes we have noticed that giving our girls even an hour of television time seems to just make the situation worse rather than better. Often they are a little belligerent when we turn it off, because it is never enough time, plus it seems to make them a little “hyper,” shall we say. It certainly does nothing to exert their abundant energy or to harness their boundless creativity and imagination.
Crafts and art are a big part of our week. Since the girls were tiny, we have done crafts, from the toddler’s simple colouring, finger painting, glueing random things together to make more random things to today’s more complex projects like sewing, pretend-knitting (haven’t gotten the real thing yet) and detailed paper projects. There are so many really wondrously entertaining ideas out there, on blogs and assembled on Pinterest. Below is one I discovered on Pinterest, from the absolutely irresistible website Made by Joel. The “about” page states that artist and designer, Joel Henriques, has devoted himself to making arts and crafts both accessible and meaningful. There are a lot of sites out there that have printable paper crafts, but this one stands above, with wonderful hand-drawn paper toys (like a paper Paris!) you print, colour and cut. Like really DELUXE paper dolls, only more fun. Here are the Dressy Cats, made by Ava and Mama one wintery day:
18 no-screen winter indoor activities to do with kids
- Paper crafts- like the Dressy Cats! Another great site is DLTK’s Printable Crafts for Kids.
- Get a stack of books and read as many as they want, all in a row. Skippyjon Jones is one of our silly favourites, as is Geronimo Stilton, and we love Shelley Moore Thomas’s Good Knight books.
- Bake. It’s MUCH harder to bake with children, but they love it so much it’s a shame to leave them out. Plus they are more likely to eat something (even bran muffins) if they helped make it. Even the littlest can get in the act, with bowls and wooden spoons to bang on.
- Home reno! It sounds crazy but kids love to help with everything. Give them a paint brush and let them paint a spot that isn’t really noticed anyhow. Or pass over some bits of leftover wood for them to “build” something.
- Family board game night. This sounds more fun than it sometimes is, but it is worth it just to have an activity that everyone takes part in. Make popcorn and be sure to bring lots of patience. Blokus and Sequence for Kids are great for all ages.
- Open a restaurant or a jewellery store or whatever kind of store they can imagine in your playroom. Use buttons for money and bring out all the play food and dishes, tablecloth and flowers, or all the costume jewels in the house, display them nicely and open up shop. Be sure to be a good repeat customer.
- Have a spa night. Get out the hair doodads, kids’ nail polish and lotion for a hand and foot massage. I know this is girly to the extreme, but everyone can use a little foot massage.
- Put on some music and dance. Everyone says to do this, I know, but it really does make the kids SO HAPPY. It also makes the adult crankiness fly away.
- Do yoga or stretches together. Get the wiggles out.
- Have a dance or gymnastics recital, complete with posters, programs, costume changes and chances for everyone small to be on “stage.”
- Fill up the sink with warm soapy water and have the kids do the dishes. Doesn’t that sound like a fabulous idea? For some reason my girls think this is a huge treat.
- Have a bin filled with random recyclables and leftover craft supplies for free craft time. Paper tubes, scraps of fabric or ribbon, plastic
containers of various shapes and sizes, tin cans, milk jugs, cardboard cereal, cracker or tissue boxes, whatever. See what can be created with a little free time and imagination.
- Let the children loose with a camera. It is kind of fascinating to see what they think is interesting and photogenic. Last week my eldest decided to emulate the wonderful author/illustrator Barbara Reid, whose books are illustrated with these gorgeous plasticine pictures. So Kat made little “pictures” from playdoh, photographed them and wrote words to go with each picture, thus creating her own book.
- Give them a stack of paper, a can of pencils and leave them alone.
- Lose yourselves in uninterrupted playtime. That means forget the laundry, vacuuming, blogging, social networking, cooking, and every other grown-up pursuit. This is especially necessary for those who have one child in school and one at home. The little one at home sometimes feels lost without her little companion, and even 15 minutes of concentrated, truly present play time with mom or dad will make her SO happy.
- Give them a job to do. Watering plants, pairing socks, sweeping, washing windows with their own spray bottle of plain water and a rag, feeding the kitties. Everyone likes to feel needed.
- Play dress-up! Nothing better than a dress-up trunk filled with costume stuff, old grown-up clothes, lots of hats, scarves and jewels.
- Leave them to their own devices. Free play time, without adults instructing or entertaining, is the best way to help children learn to entertain themselves. It is so wonderful to hear what they come up with on their own, and they will never get bored.
Got any more ideas for indoor no-screen activities with kids? Please add them in the comments and feel free to link up to your own blog to share more ideas. I am always looking for new ones to keep us busy…