Not another snow day! When cabin fever sets in, it helps to have an arsenal of age-appropriate activities to keep your kids occupied (and your sanity intact!).
When the weather is fine and you actually have some free time, stock up on dollar store items like markers, stencils, and clay. Things your kids may never touch when they can do anything they please suddenly become more attractive on a snow day.
Fun with Food: The best way to fight boredom is to let your kids bend the rules a bit – within boundaries, of course. The first step: letting them play with their food. Hold a raisin rodeo by plopping raisins in seltzer water or clear soda and watch the bubbles bounce the raisins up and down. Hold a bubble blowing contest in your chocolate milk. Make edible houses out of graham crackers, icing, and leftover holiday candy. And make edible play dough by mixing 1/3 cup honey, 1/2 cup peanut butter and 1/2 cup (or more) of powdered milk.
Treasure hunt: A treasure hunt leads kids from one clue to another until they arrive at an ultimate payoff, either a “treasure” or an activity. The payoff can be candy, stickers, a snack, or a coupon to go out to a trampoline park, bowling, or another fun activity. The best part is that you can tailor a treasure hunt to your kids’ ability and interests and get as creative or ordinary as you want. An instant camera is a great tool for creating clues – take a series of photographs of small, close-up details. At each location, you can place the next photograph of the next clue. Place rhymes, messages in invisible ink, or riddles in scrolls or plastic Easter eggs, and leave them at each location to lead them to the next clue. Often, when kids are done following the clues, they want to try their hand at making their own, leading to another long, engaging activity to keep idle hands busy.
Scavenger hunt: A scavenger hunt challenges kids to scavenge around the house, looking for items on a list. Break the kids into teams or let every participant have his or her own list. Then give each one the same list of 10-15 items they need to find within a certain time frame. You can list the items or use riddles, rhymes, or even pictures for the littlest participants. The one who finds all of the items on the list first, wins. The teams can either collect the items or, to save time putting everything back where they found it at the end, can snap digital photos as they find the objects and bring back the images for review at the end. Dressing up as a rescue hero beforehand is optional!
Papier Mache: If you don’t mind a mess and your kids like to get crafty and gooey, papier mache sculptures are a great way to get creative and pass the time when you’re stuck indoors. Line the floor and table with a disposable tablecloth or newspaper, get everyone into clothes they don’t mind getting dirty, and put on aprons for good measure. To make papier mache glue, mix equal parts (about a cup to start) of flour and water along with ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir until all of the lumps are gone. For the base, grab items from your recycling bin like soda bottles, paper towel rolls, and cereal boxes, or blow up a balloon to cover. Tape items together with masking tape to create shapes. Then, tear strips of newspaper, old catalogs, magazines, or other paper you’ll be recycling for the base layers. For the top layers, rip colored tissue paper or construction paper so you don’t have to paint the finished product. Dip each strip into the paste and wipe off the excess, then layer the strips all over your base structure until it has been completely covered in 3-4 layers. Let it harden as you clean up your workspace and yourselves. It should be dry and ready within 24-48 hours.
Too many monkeys in the monkey house? Bundle up and head outdoors for some planned activities. Don’t forget to keep towels and dry socks by the door for when you come back in, and have a snack ready, too!
Day at the Beach: Grab your buckets and shovels and get to work building sand castles in the snow. If you live near the beach and can get there safely, it’s even more fun and rewarding to build snow castles in the sand!
Snow-lympics: Brainstorm activities with your kids for ways you can use the snow and ice to create challenges for each other. You can hold your own snow-lympic games complete with an obstacle course, snow golf, snow Frisbee, soccer, and relay races in the snow.
Snow Art: Stock up on dollar store spray bottles, misters, and food coloring before the next big storm. It’s a simple recipe to have the most decorated yard on the block! Add a few drops of food coloring to water in a spray bottle and send your kids out to decorate the snow with kid-safe, animal-safe, non-toxic graffiti!
Safety Town: If you have a good sized yard to play in, use a shovel to create “streets” and intersections all over the yard or playground. While you’re shoveling, give kids a large box to decorate like a vehicle and cut off the top and bottom flaps. With each child in their “vehicle”, set them loose in town and let them navigate the streets. Parents can take turns being a traffic light or traffic cop to direct traffic. You can create one long straightaway and have the kids play red-light-green-light in their cars, too!
Do you have great tips for beating cabin fever on a snow day? Share them in the comments below!