The weather has finally gotten colder here and we received our first snowstorm this weekend. While our kids LOVE to play outside, I do limit their time outside if the weather is too cold or the winds are too high. I always keep some new and exciting things on hand for them to do and play with so they don’t get too bored when we’re stuck in the house. These are also used in the summer when we have temps that get too high and I need to bring them in to take a break from the sun’s rays. (Skin cancer runs in our family so we’re very protective of the sun.)
1. Model Magic
This is our kids’ most favorite thing to play with. They’ve started to get more creative with what they make and love that it eventually air dries and they’re creations are frozen in time. A few weekends ago when I was out of town for a conference, they spent 2 days making this campfire, complete with graham crackers, Hershey’s chocolate bars, skewers, marshmallows, and mugs of hot chocolate. I love all the detail they put into it and they are really proud of their work. Model Magic is in our top 5 list of favorite toys every to play with. The best thing about it is that it’s gluten free, unlike a lot of similar products.
2. Hide and seek
When the kids were little we had to adapt the rules of hide & seek. We either kept to one floor of the house or worked with a partner to do the hiding or the seeking. Now we play throughout the whole house, minus the basement. It’s still as much fun as it was when I was a kid, I just don’t fit into all the tiny places anymore. The top of the landing was Rebecca’s favorite place to hide for an entire year.
3. Walkie talkies
I swear these walkie talkies can keep them busy for hours! The girls received these as a Christmas gift and have logged hundreds of hours playing with them. I love that you can choose how many handsets you want so each child gets one. They have colored face plates so the kids know which color belongs to them. They run around the house talking to each other. The only thing we had to do was teach them to say “over” when they were done speaking so that no one was talking over anyone else. They also have a charging station so you don’t need batteries!
4. Scavenger hunt
We like to make scavenger hunts and then go on them. I tend to make up the sheets and print them out and the kids search all over the house for what they’re looking for. Sometimes they’re looking for a specific object and sometimes they have to solve a problem. For example, “Find something that has the same number of pieces as 5+3.” Preschool kids do great with using phonemic awareness. “Find something that starts with the letter R.” And toddlers can work with these kind of directions: “Find something in the bathroom that is blue.” I’ll be writing a post about this in the future because it’s such a great activity.
5. Cooking & baking
Our kids do a ton of cooking and baking and we love to do family sessions of it. We recently did a Baking Challenge where we all baked a different flavor of cupcakes and frosting and then tasted every concoction. It was a lot of fun and we were all full by the end of the day.
6. Road building
We love to use painter’s tape (or you can use this awesome road tape) to make roads all over the house. The roads tend to be elaborate and long and we even create intersections! Then we take our matchbox cars, or any vehicle we have, to ride all over town. Now that the kids are getting bigger, they like to build buildings around the roads using Legos, K’Nex, Trio blocks, or Model Magic.
We put a plastic tablecloth on the floor and the girls fill up their palettes with acrylic paint (you could also use Crayola’s washable paint) and bowls of water and paint on a canvas. Because they’re painting on the tablecloth, it’s easy to wipe up and the mess is contained as long as they don’t move off of it. You also want to make sure your child is wearing a smock. I love ones that have a back closure because they almost guarantee that the front of their clothes don’t get paint on them. A men’s button down shirt works well, too. I cut the sleeves shorter and make sure they’re buttoned up all the way. If you’re worried about a mess, try placing your child in a high chair or booster seat and using Crayola’s finger paint and finger paint paper. They’re still a ton of fun!
8. Card games
Our kids loved Uno from an early age because it was easy for them to understand. Now we’ve started playing more challenging card games. We have this book that has great lists of a ton of games that kids of all ages can play. If your kids have little hands, these card holders are perfect for helping them hold them all. If your children like playing games and puzzles, there are plenty of places you can take them to get their brains working.
9. Building with craft sticks
Building with craft sticks is always a big hit. The possibilities are endless and you can use markers or paint to color them when you are done. The only thing you need is some Elmer’s glue to hold them together.
10. Fort Building
Fort building can get interesting. We tend to use small kid sized or kitchen chairs in the family room and drape blankets or sheets over the top. Sometimes we add a box to the end like in our photo. We crawl inside to play games, read books, or eat snacks. I’ve found that using sheets is much easier than using blankets because they’re much lighter and there’s less of a chance of a collapse.
11. Balloon animals
I’ve always been fascinated by balloon animals and the ability to make them. For Christmas, we bought this balloon animal kit
12. Pretend swimming
This one is a little unusual. Set up an inflatable swimming pool in family room. You can either put these soft plastic balls in it or use it as a place where the kids climb in and read a book or watch a movie. It’s one of those unexpected things that can change the dynamic of a situation and is so different that I can almost guarantee your kids will never forget it.
13. Paper Airplanes
One of our kids, in particular, loves making paper airplanes. She takes them to the top of the stairs and sees how far they can travel. This paper airplane book teaches you a lot of techniques and tricks to make them fly further. Decorating them before we race them is a must!
14. Board games
I have to admit that we are a board game family. We’ve loved board games since before we had kids and once a week we do a family game night. The games we’ve played over the years have changed but here are our favorites for different ages.
For toddlers & preschoolers: Brain Box ABC and Goodie Games Color Cookies (both of these are great and we STILL play them!
For school age kids: Racko (my favorite!), Simon, Sorry!, and Left Right Center are great.
For older school-age kids: Sequence and Rummikub both use a lot of strategy and higher level thinking
Dominoes are always a lot of fun and I’m not just talking about playing the actual game of dominoes. We love to build paths along the floor by standing all the dominoes up and then knocking the first one down. This can be hard if one sibling knocks down the dominoes before another one is ready – it is easy to tip them over. I tend to give each kid a pile of their own dominoes so they can build their own paths and be responsible for knocking them down themselves.
16. Window markers
Crayola window markers are such a great boredom buster! When I was teaching I used them in my classroom all the time. I’d write words or math problems on the windows and positive messages on the mirror in our bathroom. They wipe off easily! At home, the kids use them to decorate the windows. It’s something that’s not traditional so it makes it that much more fun.
17. Color the tablecloth
We were first introduced to these tablecloths when my mom brought one over for Thanksgiving one year. This tablecloth has mazes, word finds, connect the dots, and pictures to color. You can easily wash it to start over again. It is really fun to have when we have friends come over too, and I like to use them to cover the tables at birthday parties.
We’ve recently started watching origami videos on the YouTubeKids app and it’s been fun trying them out. Some are easier than you’d think and some that look easy are hard. This origami book has some really great step by step directions and is great for kids to learn. It is best to use origami paper because it’s already the perfect size.
19. Kinetic sand
The girls received kinetic sand as a gift and it’s still used regularly and in good shape over a year later. It’s an especially good activity for kids who are more tactile. You can write letters in it or build with it. We store it in a Rubbermaid containers and like to use small sand castle molds to build with it.
20. Do-A-Dot markers
We discovered Do-A-Dot markers when the girls were in preschool. We actually built an entire birthday party around them once. They’re fun for the kids and even fun for the adults! We bought a Do-A-Dot book to go with it and then photocopy the pages on our printer so we have enough for all of our kids.
What types of things to do you when you are stuck in the house?