Winter can be a challenging season, especially for parents of young children. Bitter cold temperatures and fewer hours of daylight make it difficult for children to spend a lot of quality time outside running around and getting some much needed fresh air. It is a season where parents need to think about creative ways for kids to play inside – ways that stimulate their minds and senses, as well as get them moving!

There are some “out-of-the-home” indoor activities that you can explore with your child during the winter months, but many come with fairly hefty price tags. Artistically, these can include children’s theater and singing productions or art and music lessons. Athletically, activities such as swimming, gymnastics, and dance can be great fun for kids but may be expensive and inconvenient. Many local indoor play spaces have opened their doors over the last several years and now offer a range of children’s activities for a nominal fee usually. A note of caution, these little gyms can be good ways to get your kids bouncing around, but they can also serve as a hotbed for germs. Be sure to have your child properly wash their hands before and after using these public indoor play spaces. (In fact, teach them to regularly wash their hands throughout their daily routines all year long!)

There is good news about indoor play, though. You do not always need to venture out of the house and pay a lot of money to keep your child engaged and busy during the doldrums of winter. Below are a few indoor activities that can take place in the comfort of your home and won’t break your bank account.

Fun with Boxes: Give your child an old box of any size and let their imaginations run wild. Have them draw designs on it and help them (if necessary) with cutting to create different shapes and uses.

Shaving Cream Table: Shaving cream is a great sensory activity for toddlers and can be a lot of fun. Encourage them to make different shapes and objects with the cream and use it to decorate plastic toys and dolls.

Jewelry Making / Beading: Children can place chunky beads or various types of pasta tubes (or both) through shoe laces to make necklaces and bracelets. Make jewelry for friends, family, and neighbors!

Dance Party: Turn the music on and dance! Let the child choreograph their own dance and/or have a dance contest. (Musical chairs is also a fun option if you have enough kids.)

Make an Obstacle Course: Using small items like pillows, chairs, cups, etc. make an obstacle course with your child throughout the house. Also, get your child to incorporate different movements along various parts of the course to maximize their energy output!

Build a Fort: A child can make a fort under a coffee table or on top of a sofa, among other places. Let them pile high the blankets, pillows, and sleeping bags and bring in their own possessions for hours of fun.

Self-Portraits: Have your child examine themselves in a mirror and then draw what they see! A simple and fun art activity.

Book-Making: Help your child become an author. Staple together some blank pieces of paper to make a book and let your child fill in their own story lines and illustrations. Then have them dedicate the book to a beloved family member or teacher.

The Joy of Cooking: Kids love to help out around the kitchen, especially when it comes to measuring, rolling, and mixing. Use the internet to find easy, kid-friendly recipes – a warm and cozy activity on any cold day.

Dramatic Play: Pull out the costumes from the toy chest and have your child dress up and perform. Set up a pretend stage, add lighting and music, and organize an audience of people and stuffed animals to make it more authentic.

There are so many fun things to do inside with a young child that do not require much money or special skills – or screens of any kind! Keeping an open mind and having some basic arts and crafts materials on hand are essential for creating positive play experiences at home during these somewhat dark and blustery months. Take full advantage of this indoor time with your child and use it to foster their own creativity and imagination. Before you know it, spring will be here.

About the Author:
Gladys Ruiz is the Director of Little Children Schoolhouse in Brookline, MA. After more than ten years working in Early Childhood Education, Gladys opened the Little Children Schoolhouse to provide a nurturing, loving environment—an extension of her student’s home and family life—in Brookline. Pre-K, Preschool and Daycare programs for toddlers and infants include extra activities, such as weekly music, yoga, cooking, science activities, and field trips. Both full day and part-time enrollment are available.