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Have you run out of screen-free ideas to keep your kids entertained inside when it’s too cold to play outside? During the winter or on cold, rainy days throughout the year, it can be hard to keep children busy indoors.
Recently, we had an internet outage for a whole day and these activities came in handy. It got me thinking about all the different activities we do instead of screen time since normally I don’t let my kids have much screen time.
Below I share some of the things I do with my kids to keep them busy and learning inside when its cold out. These ideas will keep them learning, being creative, and hopefully entertained for long enough to give you a little time to relax or get some work done.
Play dough is really easy to make and so much fun to play with. You can find the recipe here. Make it more entertaining by adding sparkles and small toys. Make it new every time by changing the theme with different colors, scents, and accessories.
Of course, you’ve already thought of coloring, but did you know there are lots of free coloring printables online? All you have to do is print them out!
You can also keep kids interested longer if you mix it up and color with exciting new crayons, pencils, and markers every once in a while.
Listed below are a few of my favorites.
Activity pages can be a fun option just make sure they are age appropriate. Below are a few free worksheet printables for preschoolers.
Visit the Library
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out your local library. Many libraries have kids programs such as storytimes, reading challenges, etc. My local library has a large area with toys for kids, which is perfect for getting out of the house on cold days. And while you’re there, don’t forget to check out some books and music to enjoy at home!
Here are a few of my favorites from my local library.
Build Indoor Forts
Turn your house into a construction zone. Show your child how to build a fort with blankets, pillows, chairs, boxes, etc. Then let them be creative and keep building and playing in their creations.
I haven’t tried this yet, but this Brik-a-Blok tunnel set looks like a great addition to fort building. Check it out here.
Learn to match colors and shapes with wooden puzzles and large puzzles geared towards younger children. Melissa & Doug have some of the best puzzles for little kids that I have found.
These are a couple my boys enjoy putting together.
Play games together as a family or just the kids. Games are a great way to learn about strategy, waiting for turns, and recognizing letters, numbers, colors, and shapes. Here are a few game suggestions to get you started.
Play Dress Up
Let your kids pretend by dressing up in costumes. Children learn by imitation so dress up is a great way to learn about different people and jobs.
Tip: A great time to get dress up clothes for a great price is the day after Halloween. Otherwise, during the rest of the year, Melissa & Doug have some great
Children’s Music, Audiobooks, or Podcasts
Whether you’re driving or at home, listing to music or stories is a great way to pass the time. Pandora has some great children’s podcasts and music stations that can be quite entertaining and educational as does Amazon if you have Prime. Or most libraries have children’s audiobooks and music CDs.
Winter Themed Slime
Slime is easy to make and fun to play with and squish and squeeze. You can find the recipe here. Make it white or blue with plastic snowflakes or glitter for a winter theme. You could also find some toy people, sleds, and animals to play with it also.
Kids love messy play and this is a great way to encourage it. For edible paint, just mix plain or vanilla yogurt with food coloring. This paint is safe even for babies. Or if you prefer Amazon has a good selection of finger paints for your little artist.
One tip though: cleanup will be easier if they paint in a highchair or the bathtub to contain the mess.
Winter Science Experiments
Below are links to some great science experiments for kids.
Baking with Kids
Who knew cutting paper could be so much fun? My boys will entertain themselves for hours with just some newspaper or magazines and scissors. Just make sure you are supervising at all times.
Fitness Games for Kids
Jamie at Totally the Bomb has some great game ideas you can check out here.
Sort and Arrange Legos
Make a learning game out of searching for certain colors and sizes of legos or another similar toy set and putting them into different containers or line them up in patterns.
Play with Empty Containers, Pipe Cleaners, and Cotton Balls
If you have some empty containers or toilet paper tubes, use them to make crafts. Or have your kids poke pipe cleaners or cotton balls inside. And then try to shake them out.
Make picture storybooks using stickers, this way kids can have fun with stickers but at least most of them will end up in their book instead of being stuck to everything else. All you need is a small notebook and lots of stickers.
Tip: You can find lots of stickers on Amazon; most are about $5 for 1000+ stickers.
Did you know the bathtub is great for play even when it’s not bathtime? Try playing with boats, bubbles, bathtub paint, frozen water balloon marbles, pool noodles, cut in pieces, colored ice cubes, ect. And the best part it’s easier to keep the mess contained and clean it later!
If your kids like having their pictures taken or pretending to be a photographer. Have them dress up and use toys and stuffed animals for props in their photos. Then they can look at the pictures later or you could even have them printed into a photo book. Walmart and the FreePrints app are some inexpensive options for photo books.
Where to Find Inexpensive Supplies
There’s no need to spend a lot of money on supplies. Many of the things needed for these activities I have found at thrift stores or on clearance. So keep your eye out for inexpensive items you could use for crafts or other activities.
I hope this list was helpful for you and gave you some new ideas to try out. If you have any other ideas, I would love for you to share them with me in the comments below.
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