I don’t know about you, but I am feeling robbed this winter here in the valley of Arizona. We Phoenicians typically brag about our mild climate in the winter and plan all of our outdoor activities for December- April, but not this year. It is cold.
So what are we do to with these tiny humans who are trapped inside the house and are ready to play outside? How do we keep our sanity when we also want to be outside enjoying the mild weather before the triple digit weather returns? Below are a few fun activities that take minimal supplies and will keep your children busy for a little while we wait for the warmth to return.
- Cozy Day: Start and end the day in PJ’s, have a warm cocoa bar with fun toppings, watch a family movie together, build a fort, snuggle with stuffed animals, or read-aloud a fun book. There are very few opportunities to bundle up and just enjoy each other, so this is a great excuse to lay low and practice hibernating! You can even use this as an opportunity to teach your children about animals that hibernate in the winter.
- Balloon Ninja: Blow up a few balloons and encourage your children to try to keep them in the air by using their hands, feet or even their heads. This game encourages cooperation and is safe to do inside.
- Where’s the Toy? : Have your children choose a favorite stuffed animal or small toy. Hide the toy somewhere in the house allowing a little portion of the toy to be seen. Let the children work together to find the toy. Take turns being the person to hide the toy or choose specific rooms to hide the toy. After a few rounds encourage your children to lead the game themselves, which will give you a well-deserved break.
- Messy Play: Often times as parents we shy away from messy play, but it is an extremely important part of play and learning. Grab a cheap table cloth or use the bath tub to allow your kids to explore messy play. This could be anything from bubbles and water, play dough, shaving cream, yogurt, Jell-O, or pudding. I like to use food because it’s one less battle to fight if your child decides to eat it. For babies, I love using different types of baby food to let them explore taste and textures. It’s a great way to expose picky eaters to new foods without the pressure of being hungry or trying something new during meal time.
- Play Board Games: Take out a few of your favorite children’s games and teach your children how to play. You can change the rules if you need to make the game more developmentally appropriate, or make up your own board game.
- Read books!:This may be so obvious that we forget about it. Cuddle up and read books together. Use colddays to delve deeper into subjects that your children are interested in, and take the time to research the answers to those endless “Why” questions. Act out stories, listen to books on tape, or even let your children read to you.
- Tape Trap: Using masking tape and a hallway, create a maze back and forth between the two walls. Encourage your kids to try to make it down the hallway without touching any of the tape.
- Bundle Up and Go outside: Take a nature walk and look at the difference between being outside in the warmth and the cold. Talk about the differences in the environment, the animals you see, how your breath looks in the cold and anything else your children notice. Play games that encourage your children to run around and stay moving to keep themselves warm.
- Culture Pass: If you are a member of certain libraries, you can check out a Culture Pass and receive 2 free tickets to museums, the Arizona Science Center, performing arts programs and more. Contact your local library to see if they participate in the Culture Pass Program and which passes are currently available.
- Bake for Neighbors: Teach your children about generosity and thinking of others while also exploring math and science. Choose an easy item to make like No-Bake Cookies, Trail Mix, or Sugar Cookies to bake and bring to neighbors. Encourage your children to brain storm people they would like to share treats with like the school nurse, their teachers or friends. Extend the activity by coloring cards or pictures to go with their treats.
Being inside can be challenging, especially with young children, however it can also be a great opportunity for bonding, teaching cooperation, creative play and scientific observations. Feel free to leave comments about how you are spending these chilly days with your children!