No matter what part of the country you live in, weather patterns have gotten more unpredictable. For a lot of us, this means children are spending more time indoors. Snow and hot summer days can be great fun, but kids can get cabin fever pretty quickly. Usually, this means Mom and Dad start to feel it, too – especially if they are working from home. And even when you’ve carved out time to play together, and you’ve let the kids help with every activity you can manage, bouncy children are not conducive to a productive workday.
You may be tempted to pull out the tablet or switch on the TV. However, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, excess screen time can be harmful to children. To help minimize screen time and stave off boredom, Smart Strategies for Successful Living shares a list of indoor activities to keep kids excited and engaged.
Let it Snow!
From Floridians trapped inside on a rainy day to Michiganders contending with bitter cold, making fake snow is a fun and exciting way to get little hands creative. All it takes is baking soda and conditioner, but it can lead to hours of endless indoor fun. Kids can practice fine motor skills while making mini-snowmen and designing snow-filled landscapes.
Release Your Inner Picasso
If it’s a snow day, let the snow be a canvas for your kids’ imaginations. With a little ingenuity and food coloring, your kids can create snow and ice sculptures inside or outside. Bundle up your bundles of joy and take them out with tools to sculpt and color castles or create monsters. Or keep them inside and enjoy freezing dyed ice or snow in muffin tins. Either in or out, you can unleash your children’s artistic drive with this exciting and educational activity.
On hot or stormy days, try watercolors. These paints are less messy and easier to clean up than traditional paints, and there are really cool techniques you and your kids can experiment with. Kitchen Table Classroom encourages painters to use kosher salt, wax paper, and lemon juice to try new techniques.
Let the Fun Erupt
Some of the best activities are more than fun and games. Try combining art and science to occupy minds and hands, sometimes for hours. According to Paging Fun Mums, nothing electrifies indoor activities quite like an eruption of snow. (Note: no snow is needed for this fun experiment, so you can do it with rain, snow, heat, or storm.) To make one bag of erupting snow, you need:
- 1 x 500g bag of bicarbonate soda
- 1 x can of shaving cream/foam
- blue glitter
Adding the vinegar to the mix starts the lava flow. You can talk your kids through the chemical reaction that occurs to create the eruption. Let them put on their junior scientist hats for an afternoon.
Take on New Chores
Most kids don’t cheer for chores, but most crave additional responsibility. And even if they’re reluctant, teaching kids how to clean up their own messes is a great lesson that they’ll appreciate when they’re older. Plus, you can turn almost any chore into a game, which makes it more enjoyable for everyone!
For example, ask your kids which ingredients in your kitchen they think will clean as well as store bought cleaning supplies. Let them do an experiment cleaning parts of the kitchen or bathroom with safe and proven ingredients like baking soda, vinegar, and tea tree oil and compare them to a patch that you cleaned with a traditional cleanser. They’ll learn about safer and less toxic cleaning options and you’ll get a clean kitchen!
If you have pets, teach your kids how to take responsibility and feed them. Learning to care for a pet is an important lesson in caring for the things you love. But make sure you are feeding your fur kid quality food. If you’re not sure where to start looking for quality, organic food that’s also high in protein, try this dry dog food. It not only meets those qualifications, but you can have it delivered to your house – which is great any time, but especially when the weather makes it hard to go out.
Play Into the Seasons
There are fun seasonal things to do all year round. Winter is about more than snow and frigid temperatures, it’s also about the holiday season and enjoying time with loved ones, friends and family. Snow days are a great way to clock some quality time with your kids by sliding on some cozy socks and sipping hot cocoa by a warm fire. This tasty cocoa recipe lets your kids get creative by making whip cream stars, and if they haven’t had any screen time yet, you might consider putting on a nostalgic movie from your childhood, bundling up and watching it together.
Fall is a great time to learn more about storms. As the winter winds approach, create a rain catcher with the kids, and learn about barometric pressure by making a homemade thermometer or a tornado in a jar! Spring and summer are great times for learning about nature. You can create a nature journal together for bugs, birds, and local wildlife by taking a brief walk in the cool of the morning, and then writing and drawing in your journals when it’s too hot to go out… or during a spring drizzle. You can even be window observers to see what creatures come out when it’s hot, dry, wet, or humid.
Indoor activities really take off when you bring out the glitter. Designate a specific area where your kids know they can dive in and get creative. Letting your kids craft the day away is a wonderful way to make memories, encourage creativity and spend time interacting with them in a meaningful way. Some great kids crafts include:
- Making a homemade kaleidoscope.
- Designing decorations for any holiday – or just for fun – to hang on a tree, outside, or around the house.
- Creating your own homemade play dough.
Keep Kids Entertained with Fun Activities
When the seasons change, children experience the difference and are primed to explore the world around them. No matter the season or the weather, incorporate different types of science and art activities to help kids pass the long hours when they can’t play outside, or to simply inject into your regular play time. Focus on themes that interest your kids and try adding season-appropriate details, allowing them to repeat certain activities again and again with more skill and a deeper understanding – and without getting bored!
Written by: Susan Good
Susan Good recently retired from teaching after 38 years. And although she misses engaging with students, especially the satisfaction they feel when a concept finally clicks, she gets fulfillment these days from continuing to teach through her website at http://retirededucator.org. At Retired Educator, she shares lessons and resources on reading and writing for students, young and old.