Winter Break Fun: Keeping Busy Indoors


By Rachel Wells

Winter break is here, and after all the Christmas festivities have ended thoughts of “now what?!” may be crossing your mind. If you are looking for ideas of things to do with your kids to keep them busy, while avoiding two straight weeks of screen time, you have come to the right place!

My number one tip for maintaining your sanity, balancing your time, and helping your kids have a fun winter break, is to create a daily schedule. It’s okay if your kids can’t read yet – just having the schedule there and talking about it each morning will help your kids feel confident and responsible, and give them predictability and a purpose for each day. Having a plan for the day also makes it easier to regulate screen time, snacks, and the amount of times you hear “I’m bored”. Start your schedule at breakfast time and plan out the day until bedtime. You don’t need to be super strict on the times, but do follow through with the order. Block off time for active play, outdoor time, rest time, snack time, chores, errands, reading, unscheduled free time, and some meaningful and engaging activities like the ones below.

Keep in mind that boredom can be a good thing! Boredom is a gateway to new thoughts. It opens kid’s minds to new activities, and encourages creativity. It is important to remember that as a parent you are not responsible for keeping your children busy 100% of the time. Give your children ideas, add a variety of planned and engaging activities to their day, interact and play together to create special memories, but remember that children are ultimately responsible for finding ways to entertain themselves.

This list of activities has something for everyone – so read through it and enjoy the rest of your winter break!

Cook together and make it a math lesson

Talk about the importance of following a recipe correctly, and how to properly use measuring cups and spoons. Using smaller sized measuring cups and spoons will give your child a chance to practice multiplication and fractions in order to properly add the larger ingredient amounts. If your recipe includes information about how many people can be fed, and the amount of servings, ask your child questions about how the recipe can be adjusted for more or less people.  

Write Thank-You Notes

Pick up some notecards, or create some yourself. Write hand written thank you notes to everyone you celebrated the holidays with!  

Write a Story

Get creative and spend time writing a story, journaling about your holiday celebrations, or making up new adventures.  

Play a Game

A guaranteed way to have fun – board games, card games, or make up and create your own game!  

Play Hide and Seek with a Stuffed Animal

Hide a stuffed animal somewhere in your house, and have your kids try to find it, or hide multiple stuffed animals and have a scavenger hunt to try find them all.  

Measure Things

Grab a ruler or tape measure and have your child measure random objects from around the house. Have your child search for something of a specific size, “can you find something in the house that is 4 inches long?”  

Craft Challenge

Turn craft time into a challenge.  Give everyone participating the same 5 items (i.e. 1 popsicle stick, 1 cotton ball, 1 piece of yarn, googly eyes, and 1 pipe cleaner) along with scissors, crayons, paper, tape, and glue, and see what everyone can create. The sky’s the limit as to what can be created, as long as all 5 of the required objects have been used.

You can also try a task challenge (i.e. 30 minutes to make an instrument), and let your child find whatever they can around the house to accomplish the task.

Cardboard Box Creations

This time of the year, you may just have a few cardboard boxes lying around. Use leftover boxes to create houses, castles, rocket ships, cars, etc.  

Make 3D Marshmallow Structures

Gather up some toothpicks and marshmallows, and see which 3D structures your child can construct. A cube, pyramid, prism, a hexagonal prism, or an octahedron. You both may learn about some new shapes, and you get to eat your final product!  

Scribble Drawings

Have one person draw a scribble on a piece of paper, then have the other person turn that scribble into an object or picture.  

Make a Paper Airplane

After making paper airplanes, have a contest to see whose airplane can fly the farthest.  

Make Slime

Combine equal parts white glue and liquid starch. Add a few drops of food coloring and stir. Let it sit for 15 minutes, then remove it from the cup and start to knead it until it become a smooth consistency.

Indoor Camping

Set up a tent in the living room, or build one with blankets and pillows. Make a DIY campfire out of paper towel tubes (logs), and battery operated candles, and enjoy a picnic of hot dogs and marshmallows. Tell stories in the dark with a flashlight to add to the camping experience.  

Cut Paper Snowflakes

Get some white paper and scissors, and turn your house into a winter wonderland.  

Paint the Snow

Bring a few scoops of snow inside and put it on a cookie sheet. Mix liquid watercolors and water into cups, and paint the snow while staying warm inside.  

Crayon Resist Snowflake Art

Use white crayon to draw snowflakes on white paper. Give your child water color paints and have them paint on top of the entire paper. The watercolor paints will not stick to the crayon, creating a beautiful resist painting.  

Minute to Win It Games

Cookie Face: Put an Oreo cookie on everyone’s forehead. The challenge is to get it to their mouth without touching it with their hands.  

Stack Race: Stack 36 cups into a pyramid and then back down into a single stack in one minute.

Shake it Out: Strap an empty Kleenex box to everyone’s waist. Place 8 ping pong balls into the Kleenex box. Participants need to try get the 8 ping pong balls out of the box, just by moving and shaking their body. Get ready to laugh!

Pie Race: Place hard candies into the bottom of a pie plate, and cover the candies with whipped cream. Players need to find and remove the candies them from the pie using only their mouths.

Snow Shovel: Give each player two bowls, and fill one of the bowls with white pom poms. Give players one minute to transfer the pom pom “snowballs” from one bowl to the other using only their mouth and a plastic spoon.

A schedule, some engaging activities, time to rest, and time for unstructured play will set a foundation for a fun and fulfilling winter break. Enjoy creating memories together!

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