Winter Indoor Activities
After moving up North from Florida to Virginia, we quickly realized how much more time indoors we were spending during the colder months of Winter. Cold temps and snow days were something we were unfamiliar with and the fact that we weren't exactly into things like skiing, ice skating or hiking in 30 degree weather, we instead just decided we had to get creative on how to entertain our two boys during these months.
Our first Winter here, I tried to purchase toys that might occupy their time inside of the house, like a huge cardboard Playhouse Cottage they can color the entire outside of. The house came with a set of markers so the boys can decorate and spend time coloring all the outlined drawings. Inside was a bit dark so I ran Christmas lights through the inside of the house to help illuminate it inside. I let the boys bring in blankets and pillows to help make it cozy and warm.
Another option was to pull out all their beach shovels, find a large plastic bin and lot of plastic bowls and cups. Next I dumped dried beans into the bin and let them scoop and pour them from bucket to cup and so forth. Of course, you'll be finding beans scattered around your living room for months to come but totally worth it for the hours of fun that will keep them occupied.
The fun thing about this activity, especially for the little ones, is it helps with sensory play.
For extentive lists of Sensory play activities, visit Learning for Kids website. Here they break down activities by category and by age. You'll find hours of fun DIY sensory play for your curious kiddos.
Playing Make-Believe has been a classic childhood pastime that is always a favorite for my kids. However, our inventory of costumes was very bare with just a few old Halloween costumes and some hand-me-downs. I wanted them to have a nice selection that not only included superheros, but villains and other characters like Pirates and Police Officers. I decided last Fall to visit my local thrift stores. I discovered that they had great costume selections right before Halloween for only a few dollars each. We increased our costume inventory with fun new options that didn't break the bank. You can always wait until right after Halloween for some super discounted costumes at the big retail stores, too. An easy way to keep all those costumes
organized and accessible was to add an inexpensive curtain rod to a wall in our playroom. I bought some kid-sized hangers and now we have great dress-up area. I also have a waste basket I use for accessories like swords, guns, shields and bow and arrows.
Another good choice of course is some good ol' S.T.E.M. (Science Technology Engineering and Math) activities like classic LEGOS. Up until now we had focused on buying the pre-sorted assembly sets that gave you just one type of build. Those were fun but my boys had just as much fun building them as destroying them and once certain key pieces were lost or mixed up with other sets, rebuilding the set became an impossible and disappointing task.
A better option for our family was to purchase the Classic Creative Brick Box set. Now we can really expand our creative thinking and explore our imagination by building anything and everything their little minds can dream of!
Of course, once you start buying into the Lego craze, you quickly realize you need a designated area for all this brick building to take place. You also will need a good system for keeping them organized. One of my many dumpster diving finds was this small IKEA LACK Table that was in great condition. It fit two plastic chairs we already owned perfectly.
To store all these Lego bricks, I also turned to IKEA. They have these awesome bins with lids that have dividers called GLIS. The divided areas helped keep all the Lego bricks separated into color categories, etc. The containers were under $4 each and I think they would also be ideal for Matchbox cars, too.
So far, the boys have become so proud with their brick creations that they love to display them on their shelves. Soon it will be time to buy another box of Bricks! Finding instructions for new builds is easy. I started a new Pinterest Board just for the ones I've found.
To find other great S.T.E.M. activities and options, visit THE STEM LABORATORY, where you can find 50+ STEM Projects.
Another favorite pastime in our household, in any season, is building elaborate train tracks. The boys have always had a love for trains and I have learned my fair share on how to build some intricate tracks. However, since train tracks tend to take over a big space, confining the track design to a table top and off the floor is preferable. One of the last times we decided to use the dining table and got inspired to add scenery to our little train village. We had just purchased an new inexpensive train track set that included a batter operated Railway Locomotive Classic Steam Train Playset for under $40. To create our village, I added our Wooden accessories from our wooden Thomas the Train set like trees, cars, buses, houses, etc. I included larger accessories like the Crossing Signal, Airport and Oil Derrick.
For the mountain in the center of the scene, we simply used craft paper crumpled into shape as the middle focal point. Surrounding the mountain, we added a river by laying down saran wrap first and blue glass vase fillers to mimic water.
When all else fails, we can always resort to coloring. My boys aren't huge fans, but I always have a spool of drawing paper ready to get pulled out when the artistic juices do start to flow. Dollar store coloring books are always a good option too. As the boys grew, I started to realize simple crayons were not going to satisfy them, and our arsenal of drawing methods began to expand to markers, fat and thin, drawing pencils and every color in the rainbow! I used to just keep there drawing materials in a simple school supply box but I decided to execute a Pinterest pin I had seen years ago, using the same IKEA LACK table and hanging baskets. I added a few place mats to ensure the markers didn't end up all over the table. A few new stools and we had a designated craft table downstairs that was not only functional but cute and organized!
As the boys grow, it becomes more and more challenging to compete with technology and find fun and interesting activities. I would love to hear from you what are your favorite activities that you have discovered keeps your children occupied without the use of electronics. Please leave your suggestion in the comments!
Here is a comprehensive list of all the fun activities I incorporate in my house to keep the children happy, active, and occupied those snowy Winter days.