When kids are stuck inside all day due to inclement weather, parents and au pairs will find a little creativity and preparation go a long way to prevent boredom. Whether it’s cold and blustery or raining and miserable, the following ideas for winter activities for children might inspire you:
Baking – the fun project that’s its own delicious reward! Baking together is an opportunity to learn about weights and measures and explore new foods. It involves math and science, culture and fun! If you have a stocked pantry or at least keep staples on hand, baking is a great way to keep children entertained. Deciding what to make can be a game in itself! With multiple children or family members involved, everyone can write their idea on a piece of paper and draw the winning recipe from a mixing bowl. You can even make homemade playdough which gives you something to look forward to later.
Arts and crafts – it’s a good idea to have items on hand: Origami paper, coloring books, sketchpads, colored pencils, paint brushes, etc., but recycled items make great crafts projects too. Try turning your egg carton into a caterpillar or paper napkins and tissue paper from old gifts into flowers. You can go online to sites like Pinterest to find projects to suit the age and interests of your children.
Imagination – pretend you are famous painters and create your own works of art! Read a book together or write a story together. You can illustrate your story after for children who enjoy this sort of thing. If you or your child has an interest in music, compose an original song, have a sing along, or learn to play something together. You can write it down or improvise as you go.
It’s easy to add an extra educational piece to these activities. Select a famous artist, musician, or author and do a little research project together to create a short bio. For example, if your child loves the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you can pick any one of their Renaissance namesakes and share a few details about the time period, artistic style and famous works of the artist. Next draw anything related to the topics you discussed – even turtles!
Build forts! Reading or playing inside your own personal fortress is always a good time and a good chance to help children learn to enjoy peace and quiet.
Get moving – up for an adventure? Turn your house into outer space looking for aliens and avoiding stray asteroids! Want more of a challenge? Boom! The floor is lava and you have to navigate without touching it. Blast your favorite music and have an impromptu dance party. Show off your best moves. Maybe your child is in dance class and she can teach a class to show all she’s learning. Maybe an au pair has a dance background or a trendy or cultural dance to share from her home country. Anything loud and rowdy will help everyone avoid the doldrums from being cooped up in the house and provide great transitions into quieter activities once the kids burn off some energy.
A fantastic game for kids of all ages is the lights out dance party. The rules are simple; someone is “it” and controls the light switch. When the lights are off, everyone dances around whoops it up. When the lights switch on, you must stay still like a statue and silent. If the person that’s “it” doesn’t see anyone move, the lights go off and everyone dances again. This continues until someone is caught moving and must switch places with the person that was “it.” This game gets kids moving. You could easily turn music on and off instead of flicking a light switch – or combine the two!
After a few hours of play and activities, the kids may want to snuggle in with a cup of cocoa, watch a movie together or read stories quietly. I know it’s a struggle to limit kids “screen time” these days, but on a day when the weather has it in for outdoor fun, a couple episodes of a favorite show or a good movie can be so satisfying.