Looking for creative, engaging ways to keep your little ones busy indoors during on cold winter days? Here are my five favorite suggestions for indoor play and learning:
Take a “dream” vacation or field trip. The imagination is a powerful thing and with the help of a few props, you and your family can go on a lovely spring picnic or vacation to a tropical island. Everyone just has to suspend disbelief and enter into the fun to make it work. Here are a few destination ideas to get you started:
- Picnic Time: Every child loves a picnic; and who says they have to be outdoors? Consider a family picnic in the living or family room – complete with a blanket, picnic basket and real food. The best part is you won’t have to worry about bugs!
- Pool Time: Bring the outdoors in and take a trip to the pool, simply by filling the bathtub with warm water and getting in with your swim suits on. Don’t forget the beach towels and pool toys! No need to apply sunscreen.
Build a Fort or playhouse. Children can entertain themselves for hours with an indoor playhouse, fort or castle. You can cover a table with a blanket or use a large box left over from the holidays. Some cozy pillows and a flashlight will make it even more fun.
Enjoy a favorite book together. Cold weather outside makes this the perfect time of year to snuggle under a blanket with your child and read together. If you live where it’s not that cold in winter, you can help your children imagine what it would be like as you read these books. Make sure you include a few shivers and the occasional chattering of teeth as you read.
- Winter is the Warmest Season by Lauren Stringer (ages 3 and up)
- Stella Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay (ages 2 and up)
- Snow Music by Lynne Rae Perkins (ages 3 and up)
- Bear Snores On by Karma Wilson (ages 3 and up)
- A Stanger in the Woods by Carl R. Sams (ages 2 and up)
Plan a family soup and game night. Turn off the TV and have everyone join in making a big pot of soup or chili to warm you up. While the soup’s simmering, bring out the board or card games. Children as young as preschool can play many of the games you enjoyed as a child, such as Candy Land, Chutes and Ladders, Memory or Go Fish. Games teach those valuable lessons of taking turns, patience, and fairness. They also provide another way to reinforce shape and color recognition, counting, and matching. Don’t forget to take a break and enjoy that yummy soup.
Put on a family play or musical performance. Young children love to dress up and pretend. Break out the costumes and dress-up clothes and make up a story around the characters as you go. Feeling more musical? Make musical instruments out of pots/pans, wooden spoons, oatmeal canisters, etc. and play along to your family’s favorite songs or hold a dance contest.
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