When the temperatures outside drop, it can become hard to find reasons to pull the kids away from the television and limit the amount of computer games that are played. Here are a few ideas for keeping both you and your kids entertained and interacting with each other while being creative at the same time! By the end of the day, the kids will be so distracted with all of the fun things they’ve accomplished that they’ll forget to complain about not being allowed to spend the day on the couch.
1. Build-a-Story Time
This is a great activity to enhance creativity. Have all the kids sit in a circle on the floor. Pull out your phone so you can record using either your video camera or voice memo app. Recording the story you and your kids are about to create makes it more fun since you can all listen to it afterwards and laugh at all the silly things you came up with. The goal is to have each person make up a sentence to the story, building on whatever the previous person said. So if you start the story by saying,
“Once upon a time, Mr. Paul Porcupine was walking through the forest when he came on Mr. Clarence Crow wearing a kilt.”
Then the next child will continue like,
“’Why are you wearing a kilt, Mr. Crow?’ Mr. Porcupine asked.”
And so on. The story can go on as long as you like. Maybe decide in advance how many times you’d like to go around the circle to keep it from going too long. When you’re finished, stop the recording and replay it for the kids. It’s a great way to get them feeling creative and make a fun memory that you can relive again and again by playing the recording! You can even share it with any family members who missed out that night over dinner to get a few more laughs.
2. Have a “Snowball” Fight
If the temperatures have been below freezing or you live somewhere where a white winter isn’t something you get in the early months of the year, then maybe this fun activity will help pacify your kids’ need for snow! Assuming you feel up to the work of re-matching them all later, have the kids gather together all the socks they can find. Then have them ball them all up and split them into even piles. Once the kids have picked their teams, have them build up barricades using couch cushions or pillows and then have them go for it! Make sure to remove any breakables from the war zone ahead of time to ensure the activity remains fun for everyone. The first team to run out of snowballs has to clean them all up and redistribute them to the winning team before beginning round 2!
3. Put on a Puppet Show
Pull out a few old white socks and have the kids make them into pieces of art with personality! The longer the socks, the better puppets they’ll make. Set the kids up at the kitchen table (or wherever is most convenient) and have them use markers, glitter glue, paint, old buttons, pipe cleaners or whatever else you have laying around to make some colorful puppets. Assign each child a character like a princess, prince, knight, etc. Or have them make animal puppets like a fox, a bear, or a bird. Then find a big cardboard box (or a smaller table with a sheet draped over it) and send the kids to rehearse. Have their puppet show be the after dinner entertainment that night! It’s fun for everyone and makes for a break from movies and games.
4. Indoor Ice Skating
If your kids are still little enough that they take daily afternoon naps, then this activity will make for the perfect middle of the day entertainment to tire them out before they go down. All you need it some wax paper, a few rubber bands, and a carpeted room with open space.
Cut off pieces of wax paper big enough to fit over your child’s feet and then wrap them up and rubber band them around the ankle so it looks like they have on little wax paper booties. Then have the kids start sliding around on the carpet. Make sure there aren’t any hard pieces of furniture too close by to ensure they can’t slip and hurt themselves. It’s a great activity that gets them moving and tires them out even when they can’t be outside running around!
5. Build a Fort
One of the most fun things for a child is to have a space they can call their own. What better way to do that than by having them build themselves their very own fort? First, decide what room in the house you don’t mind them invading. A room with couches and chairs can be fun because it allows them to string blankets between the different pieces of furniture. Or maybe nominate one of the kid’s bedrooms as the location for the structure. Inform them at the beginning how long the fort can be up. This will help make sure they cooperate when you say it’s time to clean it up and will help you keep your sanity so you’re not staring at a mound of pillows and blankets for a whole week. Pull out blankets and sheets that are acceptable for them to use, set any ground rules you need to (perhaps you don’t want them stealing cushions from your snow white couch or have them using the crystal bowl from your great grandmother to hold blankets in place) and then have them begin! This is a great activity for kids who are a little older. It helps sharpen their reasoning skills since they have to figure out how to put all of the pillows, cushions, and blankets together in such a way that ensures their structure stays intact.
Once their fort is complete, make some popcorn and send a stack of fun books or coloring materials in with them. Let them make the space whatever they want it to be and have them spend their afternoon and evening playing house. And, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, pull out the sleeping bags and let them sleep in there for the night. What could be more fun than a cozy campout beneath blanket ceilings?