It’s cold, it’s dreary, and the days are short. You may be wondering if winter will ever end. Some people like winter; I’m not one of those people.
I don’t hate winter, but I’d be fine if winter only lasted one month. And in that month we enjoyed sunny skies, temperatures not below 30 degrees, the roads were clear for driving, but the fields and hills were covered in perfect white snow that could be used for sledding and building snowmen. It could happen, right?
Alright, so winter in the Midwest is never going to be like that, and with kids underfoot we need to find something to do to entertain them for the long, dreary, and cold days.
Don’t break the bank and make memories to last a lifetime the next time you are stuck inside. Your kids may even be begging to stay inside and play.
13 Fun, Free Indoor Winter Activities for Kids.
Bake or Cook
Have your kids join you in making a special treat or a fancy dinner for the whole family to enjoy. Look through recipe books or search Pinterest together to find something everyone is interested in eating.
Build a tent city
You can do this even if you don’t have kids’ pop-up tents or tunnels. Grab some sheets and chairs and get to work putting them up. It works best if you pick the largest room in the house and create multiple tents. Clothespins or clips of any kind work great for holding the sheets up. If you don’t have those, use heavy books The bigger the sheet, the better. My kids created an entire room of tents, and the fun lasted a whole week. It only ended because I wanted my living room back. You’ll be the coolest parent ever if you let them sleep in the tent too!
Movies and pajamas
Is there anything better than a day spent in your pajamas watching movies? (well, okay, a day spent with a good book in my pajamas is better, but probably not for most kids). Whenever my kids hear it is going to be a pajama day there are screams of delight. Throw in movies – alternating which kid gets to pick them – and it’s magical. You’ll need a break for something a little more active, but you can, in fact, spend the majority of the day with movies on either fully tuned in or as background to the rest of your playing.
Grab some tables or big boards (I had a large piece of plywood cut into different sizes for when we worked on puzzles) and put out the puzzles. For the little ones, the Melissa and Doug floor puzzles are great. We also enjoy the Disney wooden puzzles. For older kids and adults bring out the more challenging ones so they can spend lots of time putting them together. If your kids (or as an adult) need a little competition for fun, pull out a kids puzzle and time them putting it together. Fastest time wins. I may or may not have tried to better my time on a few specific puzzles as a kid.
Playdate with a friend
With the right friend, a playdate can be a complete breeze for the parent. The kids go off and play together and emerge only for snacks and drinks.If it has gone well, they never want it to end, and neither do you because no one said they were bored and you didn’t have to play.
This can be as simple or as elaborate as you want. You can get on Pinterest and find an idea for every age and crafting level. However, I find it more enjoyable to just pull out our craft supplies and let the girls be creative. Sometimes Cassidy wants to get online to find ideas and then creates them, but I let her decide what she’s doing. A good fallback is always to make a birthday card for the next family member or friend birthday that is coming up.
Since we are a gamer family, this is always a good indoor activity idea. If you don’t have a lot of games in your house or want to try something new ask around. I bet neighbors or friends would be willing to lend out a game or two. Check out Five Great Game Recommendations for Kids.
Indoor snowball fight
We happen to have plush snowballs that the girls were gifted one year, but you don’t have to have them. You can make snowballs out of tissue paper (great price after Christmas sale), newspaper, rolled up socks (which you could use old socks for and keep the snowball stash put away for such occasions. Be sure to make some ground rules, so you don’t get anything broken or move breakables out of the room you’re playing in.
This could involve dress up or just trying on the next season’s clothes that you bought in advance. When we pull out hand me downs for the girls to try on it is hours of entertainment. The girls put outfits on; they mismatch clothes, they pick out their favorites. It is so much fun, and I find out what fits and what they like. This also works for last year’s seasonal clothes. A fashion show can also include dress-up costumes and judging. In our house, there are always judges and lots of laughter.
Most recently fashion show involved magnetic dress up dolls from Melissa & Doug. Each person had a few minutes to create an outfit based on the judges choosing (casual wear, swimwear, etc). I have no idea where my kids learned this one because we do not watch pageants at our house!
Time to be creative or get on Pinterest and get ideas from others. Kids can race against each other, race against themselves or just do it for fun. Be sure to include a laser beam, that one is always a hit. Include the kids in designing the obstacle course or take turns who has to design it and who has to participate in it.
Gather all the Play-doh you have together and any Play-doh toys and let the kids have at it. I like to do Play-doh in the basement or at the kitchen table, so it doesn’t get ground into my carpet. Old cookie cutters and plastic knives are great to use with Play-doh. Use placemats to protect your table while the kids work. You can pick up a lot of simple play-doh accessories pretty cheap at the store or even Goodwill, Varage sale or a Garage sale. If you don’t have Play-doh at your house you can find an easy to make recipe on Pinterest.
We have had several coloring parties at our house. The girls and I love to color. I swear by my Prismacolor colored pencils. I was told they were the best and it was true. They are worth the price difference. Grab all the coloring books and supplies and put them out on the table. You can color while a movie plays in the background or put on some fun music. We love to have music playing on my Bluetooth speaker while we color and inevitably there is some singing along.
Exercise: GoNoodle, yoga, youtube video
In the middle of winter, the kids can get stir crazy when they can’t be as active. When you know they need a movement break it’s time to exercise. Check out GoNoodle. If you are not familiar with it, your child may be, because many classroom teachers use it for movement breaks. Both of my girls enjoy doing yoga with me. I follow Yoga with Adriene on youtube. Otherwise, any kids exercise on youtube would be good. Or be creative and make up an exercise routine such as 10 jumping jacks, ten lunges, ten arm circles, jump forward and backward, etc. The kids can take turns picking out the next move for everyone to do. A great way to get the whole family to work out together.
Hopefully, this list has given you some new, fun indoor winter activities to make the long days of winter a little more exciting. If you came up with some new ideas yourself while reading these, please share in the comments. We are always in need of more indoor winter activities at our house.
Keep this list handy, because it’s also great for a rainy spring day.