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Cozy at Home :: Winter Indoor Activities

Winter in the South; never a dull moment. Between tornado warnings and 50 mph gusts of wind last week to the looming threat of a giant snow and many, many days of sub-freezing temperatures in a row coming up, you just never know what to expect!

With that in mind, we went back in our archives to March of 2020 (yes THAT March) to bring you this post full of fun indoor activities that was written and compiled back when we were sweet, innocent babies that thought COVID was going to require just two weeks out of school and hunkering down before life went right back to normal. Oh, us.

But, this list is full of so many legitimately fun indoor activities for kids of all ages that they can do WITHOUT driving you too crazy. Plus, most of them require very few materials that you don't already have laying around. And the kids can do most of these on their own. So, if we do get a ton of snow and the kids are out of school for a few days, have no fear; you've got this list to fall back on!

Fun Indoor Activities for when you're stuck inside:

Paper towel tubes + pom poms: Take the paper towel and toilet paper tubes (you've been buying all that in bulk right?) and use masking tape to vertically tape it on the wall, refrigerator, or cabinet and make it a chute for them to drop cotton balls, pom-poms, or whatever else keeps them busy!

Take another bath: Load up the bathtub with measuring cups, bubbles, and bath toys, and let your kids take an extra long bath. To make it even sweeter, let your kids enjoy some popsicles while bathing!

Create a masking tape road. Take painters tape or masking tape and create an entire thoroughfare on your floor for your children to use with their cars and figurines.

image courtesy of @nocomoms IG

Play restaurant: Challenge your kids to make each other a meal (lunch?) and SERVE EACH OTHER. For younger kids, pre-cut, pre-approved snacks will work! To make it extra, have them create a menu!

Color a cardboard box. Disassemble all cardboard boxes you have on hand and create items (rocket? race car? airplane?) using duct tape. After you’ve made your creations, color them. No boxes on hand? Have one of these cardboard boxes made on the ready. They can be inexpensively purchased at Oriental Trading, or for quick service, but a higher price, available on Amazon.

Build villages (or in the case of my son, "wars") with toys. Whether it’s with LEGOs, Calico Critters, or Playmobil, my children can pass an entire morning indoors just by building a make-believe city! For even more fun, just let it go. Let them keep building on it for DAYS! You've got the time, right?

indoor play time

Have an Easter egg hunt. Hopefully, this will all be a distant memory by Easter, but who knows! Personally, I have a bunch of Easter eggs leftover from Easter (but if not Amazon FTW or just hard boil some eggs), and fill them with whatever you have laying around your house. Hide the eggs indoors and let your children hunt them. Whoever finds the most, gets to hide them for the next round.

Set up a grocery store. Use indoor household items for older children or items from the play kitchen for younger children. Kids love shopping! We line shelves with items, make fake money, create a cash register, then take turns being the shopper and the cashier. Hidden math lessons for your older kids FTW!

Make your own Mad Matter. Mad Matter is a fun “dough” that has the consistency of a cloud but can be crafted like playdough! A good way to pass some time indoors on a rainy day is to have your children make their own!

Or make your own play dough! The Art Project has a great recipe!

  1. Mix dry ingredients: 2 cups flour, 1/2 cup salt, 4 Tablespoons of Cream of Tartar
  2. Add wet ingredients to the dry: 2 Tablespoons vegetable oil, 2 cups water, food coloring or liquid watercolor (to desired color)
  3. Microwave for 4 minutes (do it in 1 minute increments, stirring after each minute). Mixture will look like a globby mess as you're cooking it. When it's done, it will form a ball.
  4. Let dough cool. Knead it until it is the right consistency. Add glitter (optional) as you're kneading.
  5. You can also cook on the stovetop (instead of the microwave), stirring slowly as it heats until it forms a ball.

Dance parties! Dance parties are an absolute crowd pleaser! Make it simple and just jam out to your faves, or get creative by turning on your favorite movie soundtrack and try to re-enact the movie!

Create your own boardgames: Grab a cardboard box, some art supplies, and let them make the board plus all the rules, no matter how weird or crazy they are!

Indoor hopscotch. Using masking tape, create a hopscotch board and let those kids jump some of their energy out!

Break out the balloons. Have a few left-over balloons from a birthday party? Blow them up and create your own games like not letting the balloon touch the floor, grab any kitchen funnels you may have and make the rule that you have to catch the balloons with the funnel, or if you have any wrapping paper tubes laying around, use those as hockey sticks and play a little game of balloon hockey!

Sack races with pillowcases. Grab some of your old pillowcases, throw those kiddos inside, and let them hop through the finish line!

Sumo wrestle. Find any old adult t-shirts you may have laying around and stuff pillows all the way around your body underneath the t-shirt. Let the giggles ignite as the kids bounce around the playroom as if they are untouchable.

Flashlight party. This one works best on a rainy/cloudy day (let's be honest, we're going to have some of those). Turn off the lights and throw the kids a flashlight party where they can make shadows on the walls, search for items in the dark, tell indoor camp stories by the flashlight, or play secret spy games!

Play library: Let them gather their favorite books and set up their own library indoors. The "patrons" can be siblings, their stuffed animals, or you!

indoor library reading time

Build a fort. Kids of all ages love to build forts. Whether you use your furniture and old sheets, or order a Fort Kit. Kids love the act of building and creating their own space inside.

A makeshift spa day. What kid (I mean my sone loves him a bath bomb!) doesn’t love a good ol’ pampering sesh? Make bath bombs, take a fizzy bath, and top it off with a relaxing foot rub and polish!

Solo cup towers. If you have a package of solo cups on hand, bust those out and see who can make the tallest tower or widest castle. You will be surprised at just high those solo cup towers can get!

Talent show. Do a casting call for the next biggest talent in your home! Create plays, sing songs, choreograph dances, and complete science projects!!! Have your kids record their talents, and create a video when they are finished!

indoor play

Scavenger hunt. Have each child create their own indoor scavenger hunt for their friends and/or siblings. Take turns completing the scavenger hunts.

Make a family magazine. Get out some paper, writing utensils, markers, and any old pictures you may have, and create a fun family magazine! Kids can create a cover highlighting what their magazine will cover with topics like family favorite recipes, a family tree, write a narrative about their favorite memory, a how-to section, and even create advertisements for their favorite products!

Bring the outside in (on a rainy day): The summer Olympics are this summer! Do a little research and pick a few sports they want to compete in. Then push back some furniture and let them at it! You can even make medals to award to the winners!

Puzzles: My kids love puzzles! So why not get a BIG one (1,000 pieces?) and let them work on it for days. OR, give them card stock and let them create their own puzzles!

Create a vision board. Encourage responsibility and goal setting through creating a vision board! Have them think of all the things they want to do individually and as a family and make a colorful poster of it! Have them write out how they can accomplish these goals and hang it in their room.

Have a food challenge. My kids LOVE this sweet, sticky, and sometimes really gross game!!! They take turns with a blindfold, testing different foods, and guessing what they are.

Nerf war. Not only can your kids in engage in a full out, indoor Nerf war, but they can also create obstacles. Take those same red solo cups and create a tower with figures on top and let them shoot them down one by one. Create targets with paper plates and give them each a point value, hang them from the ceiling with fishing wire, and see who can get the most points!

Binge watch an educational series. After the kids have exhausted all their energy on hours of Nerf wars, hand over the remote, pop some popcorn, and binge watch How It’s Made, Planet Earth, America’s Funniest Home Videos, Food Network, or The History Channel. Even the new Lego Masters show will work! My son is into that one!

Ninja spies: This one goes out to the parent who just wants to be left alone. Tell your kids to dress up in all black and pretend you (the parent) are the bad guy. They must sneak around and spy on you, but never – never! – be seen or heard by you. This game can buy you up to an hour of peace, as least.

Games. From board games (Monopoly Empire and Battleship), to card games (Loser or Uno), to dominoes (Mexican Train), keep those minds busy by strategizing ways to beat their opponent.

Have a car wash: Gather all your kids' toy cars (or whatever tiny plastic toys need "cleaned"), a stool for the littles, and let them wash everything in the sink with dish soap. This as fun as it is funny.

Chanel their inner Picasso: This one requires a little research first. Check out one of the many online museum tours. Have your kids pick their favorite pieces. Then have them recreate them! You can get canvases at the Dollar Store if you want to be fancy!

Make a movie. Whether it’s a how-to, adventure, drama, or thriller, challenge your older kids to create a movie on their smart devices. (Added challenge: have them make a Lego or Playdoh stop-action movie!) This is engaging and creative while feeding their appetite for technology use. Have an indoor movie night later on where everyone shows off the movie they produced.

Crazy/Weird/Expensive Ideas:

Make an art closet. Clean out a seldom used closet (don't we all have one of those?). Then let the kids go to town. Put all your art supplies in there. All the art projects can happen in there without a worry for as many days as it interests them. Then have them help clean it up and (maybe) repaint it. One of our contributors did this over the winter unintentionally, but it ended up being fun and lasted them a few weekends.

Buy a bounce house. No really. You can get a Little Tykes one for about $200 from Target (I'm sure other places as well but this is where I got mine from). In an act of desperation a few years ago (when schools were cancelled for days), I bought one. And it was the best purchase ever. In addition to jumping indoors, my kids play house in it, gather up all their stuffed animals and jump with those, slide out head first, etc. We often just leave it up for a few hours at a time.

 

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This post was originally published in March of 2020.