Despite what my sinuses and a red squirrel in the yard that has been acting pretty frantic all morning are indicating, forecasts say that the epic winter storm will miss the Boston area this weekend. The mid Atlantic states may getting a beating.
Here are a few random indoor activity starters with kids of a variety of ages.
- Dough projects.
- Make cookies. Ice box cookies are great and easy for days inside, since it’s done in steps, you don’t get stuck doing all of the work when the kids get bored, plus it’s pretty tidy. You make the dough, roll it up, put it in the fridge for a few hours, then later kids can slice it and bake. You can add decorations or dipping in chocolate like these chocolate dipped shortbread if interested, or just eat. You can also bake a few at a time. Similarly, you can prep batches of frozen cookie dough – formed into balls or whatever to have to bake).
- Make or play with playdough. Sarah has recipes for homemade play-dough and kinetic sand.
- Polymer clay (like Fimo or Sculpey) is great fun for elementary through grown ups. It’s so easy to work with and you can bake it to save. Like the ice box cookies, the projects can extend through the day. Make beads and then later make jewelry. Create creatures or accessories for dollhouse or action figures to play with. Mount clay creations onto magnets.
- Make your own Scavenger Hunts and Board Games and Obstacle Courses. My kids love to make scavenger hunts now. When they were toddlers and preschoolers, I would make obstacle courses to tire them out, and they liked to create their own as well – jump over the pillows, under the table, stack a pile of blocks, the options are endless. Older kids can make other physical challenges – make a basketball like game out of a box and paper towels. I’d imagine Nerf gun target making and practice could kill a bunch of time. Elementary age is probably the best age for board game creation. The games might not make much sense or be very fun, but they can spend hours drawing them out! Posterboard or card stock is ideal, cardboard from the recycling bin for cardboard and copy paper work to get started. Not into drawing, kids can use Legos for a board and pieces, Polymer Clay to make their own tokens or playing pieces. Take the dice or timers out of other games and use dice.
- Chores! Hand a toddler or preschooler a dust buster or swiffer. Clean out a closet with older kids. In my experience, you’ll either find something in there that you’ll want to do, or the kid will be so turned off spending time with you that they’ll entertain themselves for a couple hours afterwards! My girls used to love to mop floors on their hands and knees with rags with me.
- Carving soap. My kids each got Swiss Army Knives for Christmas, so this is a gentle way to practice some knife skills, but even little kids can whittle with plastic knives and you probably have what you need on hand (and unless they totally chop it up you can use the creation when they are done).
- Play cards. My grandparents were bridge players. Between that and summer camp, I grew up playing a lot of cards. I don’t think I was all that original, everyone seemed to know how to play many of card games. There are so many wonderful new card games out there (like SET!, Uno, and SpotIt – Sleeping Queens gets great reviews, but due to the stealing factor every one of my kids sobs and threatens to quit at least once when we play that game, we also have a crying problem with Pick Up Sticks). There are also so many really fun new board games, especially strategy sorts that might take the place of a lot of card games (my husband recently compared Ticket To Ride to Gin Rummy), but nothing beats the flexibility and efficiency of being able to pull out a deck of cards and play hundreds of games. (As a side note, if you are on Shutterfly emails, I did the free gift personalized deck of cards last summer with a picture of our dog. I gave them to my daughter and they are holding up better than I expected, they would make a nice gift!)