If you have not experienced them already, there may be a day or two or twelve in your future when it is too cold outside to send your children out to play. What are we to do with our wiggly, bouncy children when they can’t go outside? Here are a few ideas to help. They are free and/or inexpensive and involve things you may already have around the house.
1. Create creatures, objects, people and other bits of imagining out of aluminum foil. It is amazing how many things can be created out of this normal household item. Twist, crinkle, bend, fold and shape to create whatever you want! Want to be more exotic? Help them stand up, sit down or grow tall by using hot glue to meld them into fantastic shapes. (You will need an adult and a glue gun for that part!) You can even create dioramas by posing them into scenes inside shoe boxes.
2. Paint with shaving cream. Clean off the table and spray a blob (or snowman or worm) of shaving cream on the table. Use fingers, paint brushes, spoons, etc. to create lovely, blobby white creatures, pictures, reliefs, and paintings. Shaving cream is great because it is easy to wash off the table, the kids, the clothes, etc. and it does not stain. Plus, it makes everything smell lovely! Want to be more adventurous? Get out the aprons and the food coloring. Cover up, because the food coloring will stain everything. Lay down sheets of wax paper, parchment paper or cookie sheets to prevent the table from getting stained. Watch how the colors blend and swirl together. (This is also a fun activity to do in the bathtub. Just be sure to scrub the tub as soon as they get out so the tub does not stain if you use the food coloring!)
3. Cut out snowflakes. Want to do something more than ordinary, white flakes? Use old newspapers, magazines, aluminum foil, parchment paper, etc. Don’t limit your media. And, remember, there are no two snowflakes the same. They can be round, square, triangular, hexagonal, or something different. If you want some helpful hints, check out this website.
4. Use favorite children’s or Christmas songs to write Mad Libs. Write or type the lyrics to a favorite song. Then, remove specific nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. to create a new version of an old song. Now try singing the new version! It will have you rolling in the aisles. And, you get to practice parts of speech! Don’t want to create your own or don’t want to sing? Check out these!
5. Bring the snow inside. If you have snow, but it is too cold to play in it outside, bring in a couple of buckets (or more) and put them in the bathtub. Add some kitchen utensils or sand toys and you have instant fun! The kids can lean over the side of the tub and have all the fun they want without getting cold from head to toe…although their hands will get cold!
6. Make snow ice cream. Again, this requires snow, but it is an adventure you won’t regret. You can use Paula Deen’s recipe or this one. If you have food allergies, you can substitute coconut milk, almond milk, rice milk or hemp milk for the dairy version. Yum!
7. Bring in that old exercise trampoline, the roller skates, tricycle, etc. to have an indoor raceway. The children may only be able to ride in the kitchen if you have carpeting, but they will love the adventure. We have all wood floors and the kids love the novelty of riding and jumping INSIDE with their outside toys.
8. Have an indoor snowball fight. Bunch up a pair of socks into a ball. Then do another and another until you have quite a pile. Divide them so that each person has a few. Turn on some upbeat Christmas music and begin your indoor snowball fight. You might have to lay some ground rules about how many pairs of socks one person can have at once, or which rooms you can throw them in, but I guarantee you will have a blast! You can even make it a freeze game by allowing someone to control the music. Throw the snowballs when the music plays and freeze when the music stops. It is hilarious to see some of the poses you end up frozen into!
9. Make handprint, footprint or thumbprint art. There are some great ideas here and here and here and here. This year, we chose to use our handprints to create a Christmas tree and then made ornaments and decorations. The tree itself is upside down handprints that the kids traced and cutout. Here are the directions for making one for yourself. We made ours on a huge sheet of butcher paper and hung it on the wall. It makes the house look festive and doesn’t take up any floorspace!
10. Cook together. Make Chex Mix, Puppy Chow, granola, trail mix, or those favorite cookies you have not made in years. Make a batch of sugar cookies or gingerbread men and have a great time decorating them together. Use rolled out, or cut out Rice Krispie treats to create the sides and roof of a “gingerbread house” and use candy, frosting and other fun edibles to build an amazing creation. (This is a great way to use up the hard, outdated or unliked candy you have hiding in the back of the cupboard…at least I know I have some of this!)
Regardless of what you choose to do, remember that it does not have to be expensive. You are making memories together that are priceless. Don’t forget to take pictures. Happy indoor memory-making!