Here we are, knee-deep in winter and maybe all getting a little stir crazy. The other night I heard giggles coming from the living room and found Ben and the kids playing living room basketball with some squishy indoor balls and oversized baskets. It’s so great when things like that happen serendipitously, but sometimes we all need a little inspiration.
If you and your kids are running out of ideas on these long winter days, check out this list of some of our favorite ways to pass the time!
1. Craft Miniatures for Small Toys – This one is inspired by my friend’s 5 year old who built a bookshelf out of miniature raisin boxes like an absolute genius. Kids get lost in making objects for their tiny toys – everyone from L.O.L. Dolls to Kylo needs at least some accessories in their lives. For some inspiration, check out Rainbow Tinkle’s World on YouTube. She shares such clever ways to reimagine common household items into little toys. A lot of her tutorials use a hot glue gun, so adult help will be needed for little ones.
2. Origami – One of my sons is deep into the world of paper folding. We bought him this book for his birthday, and I think he makes something from it every single day. There are tons of free resources online, so there’s really no need to buy the book unless they get really into it. This YouTube channel is definitely not in English, but the videos are very clear, cute and easy to follow.
3. Puffy Paint – You could go as small as a pair of socks or do something more involved like a t-shirt of pillow case, but I’ve yet to meet a kiddo that doesn’t like Puffy Paint.
4. Step-by-Step Drawing Videos – There are some great, free how to draw videos on YouTube.
5. Paper Crafts – The website Hattifant is full of dozens of really fun paper toys. I know it might sound boring, but kids often love these types of things. Our favorites are the Kaleidocycle and Endless Cards. Younger kids can color the pictures before an adult helps with assembly, older kids (over 10) may be able to do the entire thing without adult help (depending on how into it they are).
6. Face Painting – Face painting has been a staple in our house since the kids were in preschool. My boys’ favorite is turn to the tables and paint parents’ faces which has resulted in some memorable results.
7. Dance Party – An oldie, but always a solid choice to make a playlist and dance in the living room to your kids’ favorite tunes.
8. Kids Yoga – We’ve been doing Cosmic Kids Yoga on YouTube for years, but now you can also access the videos via Amazon Prime. These are such fun videos that keep kids engaged with themed yoga routines inspired by Star Wars, Moana, and Frozen
9. Brain Breaks – We were introduced to these by our kids’ school. To give students a chance to get up and get their wiggles out, our district uses Go Noodle. We knew it was a big hit because the kids would come home singing and dancing to the silliest songs.
10. 20 Questions – Always a classic, and especially fun to play with kids because it really gets you into their heads and thought patterns.
11. Heads Up – I’m sure most of you are familiar with this game, but for some reason we didn’t download the app for the longest time. If you’re not familiar, it’s an app version of charades, but what makes it hilarious is that it records the players acting out the clues. Kids really get a kick out of watching themselves on video, as you well know. There is the original app that has some pop culture references that kids might not get. We play the one for younger kids that is fully family friendly and is good even for little ones because it doesn’t require reading. (Note, the original app is available in both the iTunes and GooglePlay stores, but the Google version doesn’t have very good reviews, so I didn’t want to link to something sub-par.)
12. Drawing Games – We usually play Pictionary while we’re waiting at restaurants, but it’s always a good time for a game that only requires paper and a pencil. If you’d like to print out words to choose from The Game Gal has a lot of family friendly printables. On a related note, if your family likes drawing games, I can’t recommend the board game Telestrations enough. Unlike pictionary, it’s more like the old game Telephone, but done in drawings. It might not sound very interesting, but it’s truly hysterical and so many people we’ve played it with have gone on to buy the it themselves.
14. Quick Games – This is purely selfish, but my husband and kids really love long, drawn out strategic board games. I, on the other hand, can feel my life force slipping away as they plot their next maneuver. So, in honor of my short attention span, here are my three of my favorite quick and easy family games: Happy Salmon, Tenzi, and Don’t You Forget It Dice Game.
15. Put on a Play – You may have noticed that many kids love an audience. They can reenact a favorite story book, write their own masterpiece, or follow a Readers Theater script. Between set and costume design, this can turn into a multiple hour extravaganza.
16. Pretend YouTube – My kids love the idea of recording pretend YouTube videos. We never actually upload anything, and often don’t even record a video, but kids have so much fun creating tutorials, toy reviews, and reactions to new foods. Even though they’re doing it for fun, they’re developing great skills like using descriptive words and presenting information clearly.
17. Lip Sync Battle – If you’ve ever seen the show Lip Sync Battle or Jimmy Fallon’s version of the same thing, you get the idea. Have kids choose a song and then come up with a dance routine. To make it more fun (for you), think about only playing 20-30 seconds of the song. That way the kids are more likely to come up with an actual routine instead of becoming possessed by the Spirit of Dance and dropping to the floor and kicking as many child dancers are wont to do.
I hope you found something here helpful or inspiring! I’d love to hear your favorite ways to pass the time when sunshine and tree-climbing aren’t in the cards.
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