10​ ​Winter​ ​Activities​ ​to​ ​Keep​ ​Kids​ ​Busy

The daylight hours may be short, but those winter days can feel long. We’ve all got the potential as parents to come up with some fun activities to fill our days together with our kids, but sometimes it’s nice to share ideas and get some new suggestions. So when you’ve exhausted your bookshelves, pulled out every craft supply you own, cycled through all the dress-up clothes, and watched every episode of Paw Patrol available, here’s a new list you can take a look through to refresh your repertoire of fun things to do this winter.

1. Snow​ ​Basketball

This takes up some time, and also exerts a good deal of your kid’s energy getting it ready. Pick a side of the outdoor space (it could be your yard or an otherwise open field) to dig your “hoop hole” in, and start shoveling to make a fairly wide and deep hole. On the other side of the outdoor space, establish a “throw line.” From there, they can form some snow basketballs to attempt to throw into the hole. You can come up with all sorts of objectives, like collectively trying to get 10 balls in, or keeping score and seeing who can get to 10 first.

2. Make​ ​a​ ​Snow​ ​Bakery

If you cherish your bakeware, it may be worth finding some cheap alternatives at a second hand store for this activity. Bring out muffin trays, cookie cutters, spatulas, bundt cake molds, maybe even some of those character cake molds, and set your kids up in the snow to make some imaginary confections.

3. Create​ ​a​ ​“Snugglebum”

I’m not sure where the name (carried over from my own childhood) came from…but you can call it whatever you’d like! Basically, it’s a big pile of everything soft in your house: pillows, blankets, stuffed animals. Piled into one cozy corner, it’s the ideal place to read books, listen to music, or just lie around and relax.

4. Outdoor​ ​Maze

When the snow gets high enough, you can either shovel or use the snowblower (which I would vote for), to create a pathway in the yard that twists and turns, with multiple entrances, exists, and connecting loops. It takes some work from you up front, but once it’s done (and until it gets covered by the next snowfall) kids can spend hours running through, playing tag, crouching down to hide, and coming up with various games to play within it.

5. Camera​ ​Scavenger​ ​Hunt

This can easily be adapted for outside, but when it’s just too cold, inside is fun too. Give your kids a list of items they need to find around the house, but instead of physically gathering the items, have them take a picture of it on an iPhone or digital camera. You can adapt the list depending on how old your child is – for younger kids you can stick to colors, shapes, and sizes, and for older kids you can get into textures, functions, and patterns. Have them collect their list on the camera, then come to show you when they’ve found all the items on the list.

6. Capture​ ​the​ ​Flags

Using 10 or so orange flag stakes (you can buy them in multi packs at the hardware store), set them all outside – propped in the snow, set in tree branches, or stuck into the ground. Using a stopwatch, have your kids time themselves to see how quickly they can collect them all. To stretch out the activity even longer (and give them even more of a workout), put out a coffee can or box that they have to put each one in individually before going out to find the next one.

7. Snow​ ​Volcanoes

Fill some empty 2 liter bottles about ¼ full of baking soda, and send your kids outside to build up the snow around them in the shape of a volcano, leaving the hole at the top uncovered. For a really fun visual effect, put a couple drops of different colored food coloring into each one, then begin to pour in the vinegar. (You can find the ratios online by typing in “baking soda and vinegar volcanos.”) The colored explosions look really cool against the white of the snow.

8. Have​ ​a​ ​Cleaning​ ​Party

This may be a bit self-serving in helping to get the housework done, but it often surprises me how interested in cleaning kids are. What makes it a “party?” Crank up the music, and spend one minute on each activity: dust for one song, vacuum for one song, wipe off the counters and table for one song, put clothes in the drawers for one song, line up the shoes in the mudroom for one song, etc.

9. Pitch​ ​a​ ​Tent

If you don’t own a tent already, you can aquire one pretty cheaply that I promise you’ll get your money’s worth out of. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy – $20 or so should do the trick. Kids can use them inside or out, making a hideaway in the snow or using it as a cozy fort inside. For older kids who love a good challenge, give them free reign to attempt setting it up themselves!

10.Glow​ ​in​ ​the​ ​Dark​ ​Day

That 4:30 sunset can feel pretty dismal, but this can help to embrace the darkness! Pick a room to turn off the lights and close the curtains, then bust out anything that can glow in the dark: glow sticks, stick-on-the-wall stars, and flashlights. Beyond the obvious, you can also find glow in the dark nail polish, or even fun drinks that you can make using everyday ingredients that glow in the dark.