Tomorrow old Punxsutawney Phil will let North America know if we can expect 6 more weeks of Winter. But regardless of his prediction, we know that this month you’ll still have some days where you’ll have to entertain your kiddos (and possible make some alternative play date plans) due to wet, snowy or cold weather.
To give you a little creative ammo on how to get the kids off the couch, away from the numerous screens and engaging with other people, we’re dedicating this month to alternative ways to keep the littles entertained. Here are 12 of our mom-tested solutions:
Host a toy and/or book exchange – Every kid has an old book or toy that they have lost interest in. Clean out those bookshelves, toy boxes, closets, and host an exchange with your friends. Instead of buying new stuff for your kids, let them trade with their friends. No money is spent and everyone leaves happy!
Sensory Bins – Kids of all ages love to discover and explore with their senses. Head over to the Dollar Store and find a handful of items to throw in a bin. Our suggestions:
Tongs & spatulas help with fine motor skills and can be used to move or pick up most items.
Other great dollar store finds: look for things like water beads, marbles, beans, beads, sponges, shells, rice, measuring spoons, etc.
Story Time – Every neighborhood has a story time somewhere! Check your local library or neighborhood bookstore for regularly scheduled story times. They often offer puppets, music & movement, yoga or other opportunities for engagement.
Games – Don’t recreate the wheel! Kids ages of all ages will enjoy a good round of hide & seek. Introduce them to some fun new hiding spots around the house. Musical chairs is another great option for kids around age 4 and up! Use your phone, or a nearby stereo to play some of their favorite tunes. Chairs from your dining table, or even couch cushions, will work just fine! Hopscotch is another easy one that requires minimal setup. Ever thought of using packing tape? Let them help you create their own course!
Arts & Crafts – Need some inspiration? Pinterest can give you about a million and one ideas for an age appropriate craft, often with supplies you already have around the house. How about making a fun handprint craft to send to grandparents for Valentine’s Day?
Cooking/Baking – Kids of all ages love to help out in the kitchen. Pull up a stool or a chair and let your kiddos get dirty. Dig through an old recipe book or find something you will both enjoy online – Pinterest, Youtube are great resources. If you have to make a trip to the grocery store, get your kiddos involved with making the list, picking out the items and paying for them at the register. Remember that this is a learning experience as well as fun – it helps teach them math skills and how to follow instructions. They are sure to enjoy the outcome when they had so much help in the process!
Host a play date at an indoor playground – Find some MomCo friends to join you for some indoor fun. Most malls have a children’s play area…why not meet there and then get lunch together at the food court. How about finding a new indoor playground to explore? Often times local libraries have sensory stations and toys to play with too!
Discover a new museum – Whether it’s a children’s museum or a museum that has kid friendly exhibits, why not take your little one to explore a new place and learn something new? Sometimes you can explore your local community museum or historical society to learn the history of where you live!
Indoor Bowling – Another one of those free-with-minimal-setup activities to do with household items that you already have… indoor bowling! Any playground ball will do. No bowling pins? No problem! How about paper towel rolls? Empty shampoo bottles? Water bottles from the recycling? Kids are easy to please! Set up some challenges – can you leave 3 pins? The first person to knockdown 15 pins wins… make it fun and challenging!
Balloon Tennis – It is exactly what it sounds like. Blow up a few balloons and give your kiddos a tennis racket or even a new, clean fly swatter. When they lose interest, set up a couple of goals around the house and encourage them to hit the balloon into the goal.
Make DIY bird seed feeders – This is an inexpensive, engaging activity that will produce proud results when your little one sees wildlife enjoying the fruits of their labor. You can use various seeds, nuts, and general household food items to make these fun crafts.
No need to be stuck indoors with cabin fever – let us know if you have some other great suggestions for electronic-free, indoor fun to keep the littles entertained.
Jillian Darlington, CEO and founder of the MomCo app. MomCo was inspired by my own life experiences. I believe having the support of mom friends is so important to the well-being of moms. MomCo is a geolocation based social networking app that helps moms find friendship, playdates, events, resources, and deals. We have been featured in numerous media outlets, including the “Today” show, Huffington Post, Women’s Health, Yahoo.com, and Parents.com. I am a SheKnows Expert and regular expert on Fox5 News. My greatest passion lies in helping moms find the support and resources they need to happily navigate their way through motherhood.