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Indoor Winter Family Fun

Now that we’re deep in the throes of winter, it’s only a matter of time before the kids start climbing the walls. (Okay, okay...parents, too.) As much as we’d love to live the life where we can summon the energy to bundle up and take full advantage of all nature has to offer on a daily basis, it’s just not plausible. Unless you’re Wonder Woman or Superman. In which case, you rock and I’m jealous. Reeeaaally jealous.

But, since most of us aren’t fictionalized characters, it’s nice to have some ideas in our arsenal to fight off kids’ cases of the “I’m Boreds” and the dreaded “How Does One Literally Bounce Off Walls?!” Many of these ideas are for younger kids but can be adapted for the older crowd, too.

If you were in the line of this past weekend’s storm, in particular, today’s tips for some indoor fun around the house might just help you restore your sanity.
COLOR SORTING HOPSCOTCH – This teaches colors and sorting skills to younger kids and is just a blast for the older ones. This mom made a race out of finding toys and assigning them to different colors (using simple colored construction paper). You could make it simpler by only using one or two colors at a time and having a pile of toys all ready, or more complex by making it a scavenger hunt. Either way, good times!

OBSTACLE COURSE – You knew this was coming, right? Look around your house with a new eye, asking yourself: “What can kids use to go over/under/around/through?” A footrest, a tunnel (or makeshift tunnel using chairs and a blanket), a laundry basket, streamers…the list goes on. If you have older children, give them the task of putting the course together; they’ll get twice the fun out of it.
PAPER BAG PUPPETS – Have your kids get their “art” on by creating their own puppets with whatever you’ve got hanging around the house – paper bags, socks, whatever. Up the creativity factor by having your kids name their puppets, giving them personalities and a storyline, then putting on a show with their new buddies.

PLAY HIDE-AND-SEEK – If your child’s too small to do this on their own, have them pick a partner and let the odd man out be “it”. When our guy was smaller, we’d also assign the on-limit rooms for hiding so that he didn’t end up in a room with breakables or something he could get into. And, he may be larger now, but we still do this trick: hide a toy rather than yourself. This makes it much more fun if you have a small house with few hiding spots. We may not be able to hang out on the bookshelf, but our dinosaur friend can!

DANCE PARTY – What better way to forget the depressing chill outside than to throw on some tunes and boogie out? Up the "summer" factor by trying out a Pandora station like The Beach Boys Radio or Oldies Party Radio and give the kids a firsthand history lesson while you’re at it. ;-) Sesame Street Radio and Broadway Radio are also popular at our house.   

Hands on as We Grow (There are literally hundreds of ideas at this link!)
BOWLING WITH BOTTLES – Here’s a favorite that I loved when I was a kid, it’s exactly as it sounds: clean, empty plastic bottles can be set up as a “bowling set” and knocked down by rolling whatever type of ball you have handy (we used a tennis ball, but any play toy works).

HOT LAVA / PRETEND ISLANDS – Okay, who hasn’t played this before? Poof, the floor is molten lava (or water, if that’s less scary for the littles). They have to hop from pillow to pillow (or blanket) to stay “safe”.

boredom busters indoor activities for kids - toddler approved
TAPE TRACK – Lay out a design of painter’s tape on the floor and grab whatever little cars or trains you have lying around. There, you’ve got an instant track for the kiddos to “race” around!

MAKESHIFT BLING – Got some penne hanging around? “O”-shaped cereal? Grab some thick string and make some bracelets and necklaces! This is a great fine motor activity, and you can also have kids practice making patterns.

BUILD TOWERS – As kids, we used to do this with our Little Golden books (open, then stack the next open one on top at an angle), but Toddler Approved has a great idea to use cups for stacking. Heck, I’m sure you guys can come up with even more things for your kids to make towers out of, right?

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