When snow falls, and it will, you may be confined to the house with kids who like to say, “I’m booored!” and “What can I dooo?” a lot. As a former educator, I can tell you that learning to navigate boredom independently is an important skill for kids to master, and you can feel free to tell your children that you are not the cruise director of the house and they need to just find something to entertain themselves. At the same time, as a mom I like to have tricks up my sleeve to make snow days special. It creates lasting family memories and the day goes by in a flash when everyone is having fun. You might consider alternating between family activities and independent play, or trading off supervision duties with your partner, or “hiring” the oldest of the children to ring-lead your little circus. Whatever works for your family is fine! Here, we give you 10 indoor activities perfect for snow days—but you feel free to use them any time!
This one is a “gimme.” Most families use arts and crafts as a go-to indoor entertainment, and since this encompasses everything from coloring in a coloring book to complicated long-term art projects, there really is something for everyone. We do lots of painting; washable acrylics on canvas boards make little-kid art into something special! You might try cold porcelain, making Shrinky Dinks out of takeout clamshells, or building a fairy house out of a cereal box. Google is your friend, and there are thousands of arts and crafts you can do with random “stuff” from around the house, no special supplies or abilities needed! If you do end up doing something messy, though, consider protecting your little ones’ clothes with an oversized men’s t-shirt or art smock.
In our house, this is a champion sport for truly elite competitors dedicated to the art of the game. Blow up a balloon, hit it into the air, and whoever lets the balloon hit the floor loses. You can play one round, or two out of three, or create a point system so the game can be played off-and-on all day. “Racquets” made out of a paper plate with a paint stirrer taped on are completely optional. It’s a great way to burn off energy, sneak in a little cardio and enjoy lots of laughs together! Encourage your kids to create uniforms for their keepy-uppy team out of their favorite kids’ hoodies and other comfy athletic clothes.
This is another activity sure to get everyone’s blood pumping and help younger children get some of their wiggles out! This can be as simple as whipping out your phone and playing a couple of tunes on YouTube or as fancy as hanging a disco ball and playing a carefully-crafted setlist. The point is to get moving and have fun! Whether you like The Monkees or The Weeknd, dancing with your kids is always a good time for everyone.
Sometimes it’s hard to be the parent, and children may balk at this, but definitely plan on an enforced “rest period” at some point in the day. In our family, it’s a 45-minute break after lunch when everyone must lie down and rest. Whether one sleeps or reads or watches cartoons on a tablet is down to your family’s rules and preferences, but having a quiet house and a break from each other will put everyone in a better mood and peaceful frame of mind for the rest of the day.
Whether your family is more into Monopoly or charades, game time is bonding time! Traditional party games such as Blind Man’s Bluff or Sleepy Lion can be played at a moment’s notice without much preparation, while board games depend on what your family has on hand. We learned that having a selection of board games can rescue just about any situation where the kids are restless or feeling disconnected from the family, and there are now seemingly endless options that are fun for everyone from preschoolers to grandparents.
A long bath is a terrific way for a little one to spend an hour! Bubbles and toys will combine sensory play with the necessity of a good scrubbing, and the grown-ups can feel good about stimulating learning through play by adding a couple of “will it float” items to the toy selection! If you are supervising little children, you might consider taking a real chair into the bathroom. It made all the difference for me, and it was a simple as rolling my desk chair 15 feet from my office to the main bath. If you have multiple littles you hope to entertain in the bath, consider grabbing their personalized kids’ bath towels so that drying off time is quick and easy.
So, chore may not be the most fun thing on the list, but all the top parenting experts extoll the value of making sure children learn that they must contribute to running the home they live in and that they need to learn the basic skills it takes to live independently someday. I like to set a timer so that little ones understand that cleaning or doing chores is a finite part of our day, and then set a few tasks. A four-year-old might be asked to pick up all the shoes they can find or a six-year-old might be put in charge of wiping down the kitchen table and countertops with a non-toxic cleaner, while you might task an eight-year-old with emptying all the individual wastepaper baskets into the main recycling and garbage bins. You know best what chores your child can do, the important thing is to make time during a fun snow day to maintain order in the home and instill the value of caring for their house in little ones’ minds.
A perennial kid favorite, tents can provide hours of fun while they exercise creativity and basic physics. Set boundaries as to where the kids may set up a tent, dole out king-size bedsheets and some bag clips, and see what happens! You can choose to be involved as much or as little as you wish but remember that littler children will need help spreading their throw blankets. It’s fascinating to watch how they organize and “furnish” the inside! Remember that little ones can become attached to their self-made structures, so put an expiration time on this activity from the start, such as, “We have to take the tent down when it’s time to wash up for dinner,” to avoid later arguments.
Every kid I’ve ever known—and I used to be a schoolteacher—loves to bake with their favorite grown-up! Whether you choose classic chocolate chip cookies, easy snickerdoodles, or pass along the secrets of your great aunt’s famous apple pie, baking requires reading, measuring, and following instructions so your child will be learning while they have fun. There is a lot of both art and science in baking, as well as wonderful memory-making. Making brownies (or anything else) together is an ideal way to reconnect as well as reinforce important skills.
Watching the world being blanketed over with a thick layer of snow might move your children to think about the creatures who will have a hard time reaching their food underneath. Help neighborhood wildlife by making bird feeders! You can Google dozens of bird-feeder crafts, but it’s simple and fun to cover a cardboard bathroom tissue roll with peanut butter and roll it in birdseed. If you haven’t any birdseed, any seeds or grains from your pantry will do, along with dried fruit and cereal or breadcrumbs. Hang this on a branch with a loop of string or ribbon, and you have not only completed a fun craft, but you have helped the outdoor critters through the storm, too.
Snow days are a sweet childhood institution when the world stops in favor of cozy togetherness. Even if you bundle them up in their kids’ winter coats to go out and sled, the children will come back home eager to spend the rest of their special day in their pajamas, having fun and enjoying the great stillness that has settled on the outside world. But don’t worry; they will make up for the quiet of the snow with the clamor of games, music, and merrymaking in the house!