We’ve all been there. We make a plan for the day, but wake up to bad weather or sick kids. We, of course, have the old fall back activities of watching a movie, playing with toys or coloring; but living in the Rockies, winter lasts a long time; and those activities get very old, very fast. Here are just a few ideas of activities to do with your kids on those days you can’t leave the house for one reason or another.
- Build a fort – This can be as fancy or as ordinary as you like. We’ve done as simple as draping a blanket over a table and as extreme as setting up several tables, chairs and attaching blankets to the walls.
- Bake/Decorate cookies -Make these from scratch, or use a pre-made dough and frosting and let the kids decorate. Make sure to have lots of sprinkles.
- Crafts – Make a fun card for friends, grandparents, aunts and uncles or anyone who may need a little extra cheer. I love to let my kids tell me what to write on cards. We get very interesting results. Make holiday/seasonal decorations. This can be as simple as coloring and cutting out flowers for spring, making leaves in fall, or making Christmas tree ornaments. We also love to make kid hand prints using paint, tracing the hands or making an imprint with clay. Those little hands grow so fast, it’s nice to document them. Also, consider tracing whole bodies on large pieces of butcher paper. Then let your kids fill in the details.
- Act out a story – Rather than just read or tell a story, act it out using toys and whatever you have in your house for props. My son insists on doing this daily with “Toy Story.”
- Movie-athon/read-athon -This is especially great when everyone is sick. Rather than just sitting down to read a book and watch a movie, make it extra special. Include blankets, pillows, a new movie/book and a special treat.
- Refer to the classics – Some of our favorite games to play at home are “hide and seek,” “tag” and “I spy.” My son even likes to play “hide the toy.” He hides a toy (usually Buzz Lightyear) and I have to find it. We love “I spy” because it’s a great way for me to teach adjectives. “I spy something small, yellow and soft.”
- Look at old pictures – Maybe my kids are a bit vain but they absolutely love to look at pictures of themselves. If I need them to calm down, this is a great way to get them to sit still for a few minutes. We look at old pictures and talk about when they were taken and what we were doing. It’s also a great way to remind my kids that we do have a lot of fun, and I don’t just spend their lives telling them to be nice to each other and pick up their toys.
- Alphabet game – This is a great way to help kids learn letters and realize they do serve a purpose other than to stock the alphabet. Go around the house finding each letter of the alphabet. Then help your child sound out the word with that letter.
- Make a photo album – My kids love to take pictures. Walk around with them and let them take pictures of their favorite things. Make them explain to you why they love each thing. Then put the pictures on the computer in folders labeled “(child’s name) favorite things.”
- Family room camping – This is similar to the read/movie a-thon idea, but incorporates camping. Set up sleeping bags, camp chairs and if possible a tent in the family room. Do camping activities around the house. Go on a hike through the house and find wildlife (stuffed animals), make s’mores (over the stove), and go swimming (in the bathtub). Then get in your sleeping bags and tell stories/sing songs.
What does your family do when you are stuck inside?