Winter has come. Here, in Vermont, we’ve approached the time of year when it’s getting pretty cold outside, but there isn’t enough snow to play in. While there are plenty of outdoor activities for us to do in the rain and snow, sometimes we need to stay inside. Plus, we have a baby in the house, so naturally, we find ourselves indoors quite a bit.
Now I find myself looking for the best winter indoor activities, but it’s getting a little redundant.
Have you also exhausted all of your indoor activities for kids? I think we have. We live in a colder climate, so we’re used to spending a lot of time inside. When you add a pandemic that limits us from going to places we would normally go to get “out of the house” (i.e., gymnastics or music classes), I get a bit stumped.
What are the best indoor activities for kids that we haven’t tried yet? After a little brainstorming, I came up with a list of ideas. So, whether you’re looking for things to do on a rainy day or a way to avoid a crowded place, here are some activities to keep you busy. There are suggestions for winter activities for kids indoors and indoor winter activities for families.
Free indoor activities for kids
What’s the best way to keep your kids busy without spending any money? My idea of a free indoor activity for kids is something that I don’t need to leave the house for or place an order for anything. It’s something I can do right now, on a whim, without any sort of planning.
1. Virtual storytime through your local library
This activity is geared towards your little ones, especially those who are too young for school and missing out on socializing. One of my favorite activities to do with my boys when they were little was go to storytime at our local library. Since the pandemic started, they have been doing them virtually.
Call your local library and see if they’re hosting virtual storytimes. Your community and resource center also may offer free music classes or storytimes. If you don’t have any luck locally, try the closest city library. It’s a great way to interact with other families, even if it’s just virtually.
2. Reading to a family member
The next activity is for school-aged kids. We often found that doing Zoom calls or virtual visits with family members was pretty chaotic without the interaction having a “theme” or a goal. So, we designated certain times and video calls as reading time with the grandparents. It was also a great opportunity for us, as parents, to get a little break!
Simply set up your phone and computer with a few reading materials for your kids. Call a family member or friend and let the kids do the guiding and reading. It’s even a great activity for non-readers. My 5-year-old loves to share a book and give his own version of what’s happening in the pictures.
Active indoor games for kids
My kids have an incredible amount of energy. I’m sure most of you can relate. Even after a full day of school, they come home bouncing off the walls.
What kind of active indoor games for kids are there for the times when we can’t engage in our favorite outdoor activities?
1. Games that encourage safe physical activity
The boys love to play football in the house. Mom does not. The slipping, sliding, and tackling are just too much commotion for me when I’m trying to have a relatively calm afternoon. Instead, we have found some games that encourage contained physical activity without a spontaneously tossed football knocking something over.
Indoor obstacle courses are another one of our favorite fun activities for kids indoors in winter. You’re going to need a little bit of space to perform most actions, but it’s also easy to get creative. If we can’t get our hands on the obstacle course items to purchase, we use other household items. Our favorites include buckets, milk crates, and chairs with broomsticks (to crawl over and under).
2. Kids yoga
Even the most high-energy kids will love settling down with some yoga. To be honest, I lured my own children at first with the fact that we could use a video. Ultimately, they found a lot of joy and fun in doing yoga with or without a screen. I do yoga for my own sanity, to wind down after a crazy day. Though they would never admit it, I think my kids like doing it for the same reason.
To get started, we used Cosmic Kids—a kid-focused yoga program using characters they are familiar with and poses that are attainable for little ones.
3. Smart sports balls
We are looking forward to trying this next suggestion. It’s a great item for those who are really into sports and keen on improving their skills over the winter season.
Dribble Up is a company that makes smart soccer balls and basketballs. They also have a few other sports for older kids and adults. The ball connects to a program on your phone or computer and helps you hone your ball-handling skills.
If you’re a sports enthusiast, you know that touching a ball just once a day will increase your skills tremendously. If you live somewhere where it snows all winter, it’s tough to find time to play soccer or basketball. This item is a great way to focus on your individual skills and release any pent-up energy.
4. Fort building
Building forts is not a new activity, but there are tons of ways to re-invent it and try something new. For example, this Make-A-Fort Explorer Kit provides hours of fun for everyone in the family.
Not only can you make forts, but you can build tunnels and mazes, too. It’s a great way to encourage physical and brain activity. The options are endless, and it’s such fun coming up with different builds every single time we play.
Indoor winter activities for families
It can get a little stressful when the entire family is home and there isn’t much to do indoors. Tension builds, kids whine, and no one is having fun.
We try to think ahead and plan our activities so that this doesn’t happen.
1. Transform a space in your home
It’s totally ok to include kids in home improvement projects. Of course, the activities need to be age-appropriate, but we had a lot of fun transforming our garage with our kids.
Children love nothing more than to customize their own space. So, this winter, find a room or a space in your home that you can all work together on to make it a fun new environment.
For example, we turned our garage into an indoor play space for both the kids and adults. We worked together to clean the space up, find various items second-hand (ping-pong table, lockers), and set it all up together. The little ones even used their own tools to work.
2. Cooking for mom or dad
I’m not sure who normally does the cooking in your house, but in mine, it’s me. I am a professional chef, and I love to cook, but I also love not having to cook. I mostly love having one less thing to do on my list.
My husband designated Sundays as the days when he and the boys would cook me dinner. Sometimes they would plan, and other times they would just wing it. Either way, it was a lot of fun for them to do something out of their comfort zone.
There are a lot of great resources and tools out there for little kids to work more independently and safely in the kitchen. Some of my favorite kitchen tools for kids include these chef knives and cutting devices.
Staying indoors doesn’t have to be a drag. There are plenty of activities to keep you and your little ones sane and happy.