At three little birds we always encourage our families to bundle up and get out to play in the fresh air, regardless of the season, temperature or weather. However, we completely understand that some days, it may not possible for everyone. With the holidays over and the cold, bleak, New Jersey winter starting to really set in, we’ve come up with a list of super fun activities to help cure your family’s cabin fever and keep your children happy, engaged and inspired in their play at home.
The trick to creating art in the winter is to keep it simple and use materials that you can easily find around the house. This way, you are not creating more clutter and adding to things you will need to throw out later. It’s also helpful to choose easy, age-appropriate activities that kids can manage by themselves. Then you can simultaneously get things done (or drink a hot cup of coffee!) while they are keeping busy. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Mess free “finger-painting”
- Create sculptures out of everyday or recyclable materials (try styrofoam, toothpicks, pipe cleaners, marshmallows, thin wire, cardboard, corks, thread spools, drinking straws, wooden chopsticks, etc.) Think outside the box!
- Experiment with liquid watercolor paint and salt
- Rip up old magazines, catalogues, newspapers, etc and let your kids collage them
- Paint a wall with chalkboard paint and let your kids go to town creating a mural! They can erase and create a new one over and over again. If a chalkboard wall is not feasible, you can tape up some parchment paper or use an easel.
Explore Your Senses!
Sensory bins are incredibly fun, easy to put together, simple to change up, and can entertain a wide variety of ages–all at once! Sensory activities are very important for young children as they facilitate exploration and naturally encourage kids to use scientific processes while they play, create, investigate and discover. Plain white rice is a great basic starting point. You can leave the rice as is, or get as fancy as you like, by coloring and scenting it. Beans, corn kernels and water beads are also interesting fillers to add. Then add some scoopers, spoons, small objects or toys, letters and numbers, pom poms, stones, sea shells, cookie cutters or anything else you’d like. Sensory bins can be thematically based on your child’s interests or just made for fun exploration. The options are truly endless! Here is a great resource for sensory bin ideas.
Use Your Imagination!
Our very own Ms. Joyce suggests, “Staying indoors during the winter months can be a ton of fun and one of my favorite things to do is to use our imaginations and bring story books to life such as, We’re Going on a Bear Hunt by Michael Rosen.” There’s even a great song you can listen to together. Joyce explains, “Start by reading the story and then create your very own animal “hunt” at home. Let the children really take the reins and let them decide what animals to include, where to hide them, and see how far they’d like to go in the creation of the hunt. Don’t forget to tip toe, incorporate fun homemade props and sound effects, giggle a lot–make this as fun as possible!” Imaginative play includes role playing which allows children to experiment in creating scenarios, making decisions and problem solving in a safe and enjoyable way. Happy hunting!
Build an Epic Fort!
C’mon, you know: Everything is better when it’s done inside a fort.
Have an older child who isn’t into reading or writing? Here’s the solution to your problems and you don’t even have to go out and buy a teepee, pop-up playhouse, or tent (though you totally can if you like!) All you need is some inspiration, a nice open space and some basic supplies you most definitely have around your house like sofa cushions, bed sheets, blankets, rope or twine, clothes pins, and a flash light for inside. Once it’s built, let the kids get creative decorating the inside or outside of their fort or filling it with fun things they’d like to do such as books, drawing or coloring materials, legos, blocks, etc. Have fun!
Cook or Bake!
If you’re looking for the one activity that exposes your child to math, language and science, while helping them to develop concentration, motor skills and delayed gratification, look no further. I’m talking about cooking and baking. Children can begin to help in the kitchen as early as 18 months and not only are they building skills but you are creating memories as a family that will last a lifetime. The simple act of allowing children to cook helps them develop a core of confidence that is so instrumental to their formation of self. Remember to focus on the process and not the outcome–accept that things will most likely not go as planned and really live in the moment. No matter your child’s age or personality, it is important to empower them. Give them the equipment and skills so they can work independently and involve them in decision making as much as possible. Often they amaze us with what they are capable of! Here are some easy recipes to get you started.
Create an Indoor Obstacle Course!
This one is pretty self-explanitory. All you need is a little creative spirit and maybe a fold-away tunnel if you happen to have one on hand. If you’re looking for a little DIY obstacle course inspiration, check out the one Lauren made on her blog, Crumb Buns!