Indoor winter activities for small children

 

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I have started week five of being homebound with two little boys.  My 2 year old and 1 month old.  WEEK FIVE!!  In between feedings, dinners, cleaning and constantly juggling my time between my two boys, I am dreaming about living somewhere warm AND trying to plan the NEXT activity.

Can I think up another NEXT activity?

Will we have something to keep us occupied for the last 20 minutes before Dad gets home?

Since I like to  ‘ Make The Best of Everything!’ I have been trying to brainstorm activities left and right so we can all continue to be happy!

Here are some activities that have been successful for me, in entertaining my two year old this winter.  I try not to be redundant, so If I saw it on Pinterest already, I will try not to post about it, but give some fresh ideas. 🙂

1) DIY Bean Box- Estimated play time – 2 hours-

 I had to start with my favorite activity.  The DIY bean box. If you choose not to read this entire article, I want you to see this activity. This DIY bean box has occupied my toddler for HOURS!  DO NOT be intimidated by the mess that beans might make.  It is worth the mess!   I made our bean box by simply purchasing red kidney beans from the grocery store and placing them in a box with measuring cups, measuring spoons and other cups we had around that I couldn’t find a matching lid to.  If you child likes water tables/bathtime/ sandboxes.  Then an indoor bean box is a must!

Tips on a DIY bean box:

a) If you have beige or white carpet, use Red Kidney Beans.  You are less likely to loose them when it is time to clean up.

b) A bean box should be played on carpet only.  Much less noise, and much less mess.

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2) Mega Block Animals/ figures- Estimated time- 1 hour

Do your children own Mega Blocks?  Do they need help getting s fun imaginary game started?  Download the free Mega Block app on your tablet and put together your own animals and houses out of Mega blocks. Using the Mega block app.  My two year old and I spent hours making crocodiles and airplanes.  We had such a great time!  He even made up some of his own animals to make!
Don’t Have Mega Blocks?  Find them Here -> Mega Bloks First Builders Big Building Bag, 80-Piece (Classic)

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3) Painters Tape Letters/ Numbers –Estimated playtime- 30 minutes 

Using Painters tape, make letters and numbers on the floor!  This is a fun activity to get your kids have a refresher lesson on their letters and numbers.  When I did this activity with my two year old.  He chose a spot on the floor for every letter, and we put all 26 letters on the living room floor.  Then we tried to think of words/people we know that started with each letter.

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4) Play Restaurant- Estimated playtime- 15 minutes- 1 hour 

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All Kids LOVE playing restaurant!  My 2 year old LOVES  making pretend food for us in his play kitchen!  I have even witnessed my oldest nephew playing restaurant with his siblings, and he was 11 at the time!  2 years ago, I made my niece a pretend Pizza restaurant for her birthday.  But you don’t have to go into all that detail to make a fun restaurant game for your little one!  Print out some pretend menus and buy some real ” guest checks” from the office supply department at Wal-mart.  They will have a blast!

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5) Playing with Plastic Cups – Estimated playtime- 30 minutes

I purchased a pack of plastic cups for my son to play with this winter, and I am so happy I did!  he truly has a blast playing with them!  He Makes towers out of them and knocks them down.  he counts them.  He puts random things in them ( like crayons or toys) and dumps them out.  He throws them to hear the noise they make on the tile,  He and my husband  also will play ” what cup is it under?”  where an object is hidden underneath a cup.  A very inexpensive toy that has worked out well for us!

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6) Write letters to family Members- Estimated playtime- it totally depends on your child! 

My son and I spent about 30 minutes writing some Thank- you cards to relatives a few weeks back.  Of course, since my older son is only two, I did the writing and I just discussed with him what we should say in each letter.  If you kids are a bit older, you can have them write letters to each other.  or make cards for family members.  You can also get some inspiration from my ” Felt Family Mail Kit” that I made my nephew Kyle for his birthday last year.  This is a fun ” Make believe” activity for any small child.

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7) Decorate a Cardboard Box with stickers- Estimated playtime- 15 minutes- 45 minutes 

Knowing that I would be stuck inside this winter with a toddler and a newborn, I purchased a bunch of Christmas stickers after the holidays on Clereance at Target.  Stickers are nice to pull out if you need an activity.   My toddler and I spent about 45 minutes decorating this cardboard box one morning.  If you want this activity to last longer, I encourage you to do this WITH your toddler instead of just expecting them to be entertained by the stickers.  You can discuss which colors, shapes and other details about he stickers during the activity.

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8) Play Detective – Estimated playtime- 15 minutes- 2 hours.  It will last longer if your child has someone to play with

3 years ago, when I started this blog, This Homemade detective kit was one of my first posts ever!  I made this for my nephew Adam who was turning 5 at the time.  You don’t need to make this fancy detective kit, but I bet you can find some of these items around your house that will help initiate detective play!  All you need is a flashlight, a detective badge and well….read the post to see all that a detective kit entails.  

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9) Play in the Bathtub! Estimated playtime- 30 minutes

My son LOVES taking baths!  Having Busy time in the bathtub is kind of the same concept of the bean box.  I invested in some bath crayons and  tablets that turn bath water different colors this winter, and I am so happy that I did!  My son LOVES coloring in the tub and always looks forward to the colored water!  I can put the baby in his room, and give my older son a bath.  It is a great way to keep him happily entertained for a while.  AND we are getting something constructive done!

I highly recommend these products for indoor play bath time.

 

10) Playing with Balloons.  Estimated playtime- 15 minutes- 1 hour 

Last week when my 2 year old woke up from his nap and saw these blown up balloons in our kitchen, he acted like he had never seen anything more amazing!  He played with them for almost the whole afternoon!  Sorting them out, carrying them around, playing catch with them, throwing them up in the air!  You see, Balloons are something different. to play with.  Just make sure your small child is supervised when they are playing with them. ok?

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Playing with cardboard food containers- Estimated playtime- 10 minutes per new item. ( Hey, take what you can get!) 

My two year old son is being raised by a foodie.  He loves playing pretend kitchen and restaurant.  He even turns is Duplo blocks in to things like  ” Paprika” and ” Garlic powder”.  Whenever we have a clean leftover food container destined for the recycling, we let him play with it for a while.  He might add it to his ingredient list, or it might end up in his bean box for a while.  When he is done playing with it.  We recycle it, and its never any consequence for anyone.

Note: Notice the Egg Carton.  This can also be used for sorting things. Like dried beans, colored craft poof balls. etc.

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10) Pull out old toys- Estimated playtime- depends on the toy! 

I pulled out some old toys that my two year old used to play with when he was one.  He literally hadn’t seen some of them since last spring.  They were like brand new!  He spent a whole afternoon playing with these old toys!

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Hope this helps the cabin fever in your house!  I know that I am constantly checking pinterest for new ideas and I hope you liked these!

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33 Comments

  1. These are wonderful ideas!! I especially like the felt Mail Kit.

    Our son LOVED the bean box when he was little. He’s 16 now; I wish I had thought of using RED beans back then! LOL

    Another thing he liked was listening to a fun children’s CD (story or music or learning CD like “States and Capitals”) while driving matchbox cars around the room. The combination seemed to keep him busy for longer. (And he learned the states and capitals by around age 7. :))

     
  2. What a great list of ideas!

    You ROCK for linking up this week to Tip Me Tuesday. {high fives}

    Just a heads up, Tip Junkie can help you index your blog more effectively if you upload at least 2 images, 2 steps, and blog post URL into your Tip Junkie craft room!

    Simply login and click “add a project” on your profile page to get started. {yep I’ve got your back!}
    ~ Laurie {a.k.a. the Tip Junkie}
    Link ~ http://www.tipjunkie.com/how-to-add-a-craft-room-project-on-tip-junkie

     
  3. Those are all such good ideas. My guys are a little bit older and they sit and play with Legos for HOURS. No lie – they have sat and played with them all day on weekends before.

     
  4. This has been one long winter. I can’t wait for spring. We are all getting stir crazy. I get SAD during the winter months, glad I don’t live in a place like Alaska or something. Thanks for sharing your great ideas.

     
  5. Felt mail is especially cute. The winter is very much over here in GA, as we head into pollen and rain season.

     
  6. Just neat ideas. I could not imagine how those long winters are since I’m in Florida, but must be tiring. Here in Florida it seems there is always something to do.

     
  7. I love the bean box idea! I can see that keeping my son busy, though I’d be afraid he’d stick one up his nose, lol. I love all the ideas for indoor winter activities, but I am definitely ready for summer.

     
  8. Great ideas! My son always gets so antsy! I am going to try the painters tape!

     
  9. These are all fantastic ideas! My kids love to play with balloons (even my 8 and 9 year old), and cardboard boxes and stickers are a hit with my kids too. Glad you found some things to keep you all entertained!

     
  10. my kids love to play box. they spend hours decorating and then move onto playing in and around it. they like to make puppet shows!

     
  11. Such great ideas. My daycare kids always loved a rice box too. The bean box looks like a ton of fun for them though.

     
  12. My daughter already loves so many of these ideas! She is always eager to play Legos and Restaurant. Whenever we run out of ideas we run a big bubble bath and throw all the toys in. Then she doesn’t want to get out!

     
  13. These are some great ways to keep the kids busy. I’ll have to remember some for my grandkids.

     
  14. I have a home daycare and love most of these ideas for the kids. The bean idea is great… I would just have to watch close to make sure not beans went up their noses or in their ears. We already do the big blocks… that is a winner and I love the decorate a box.. Kids of ALL ages love boxes!

     
  15. These are some great ideas! I think my youngest would enjoy them – and we need them! There’s more snow in the forecast again next week!

     
  16. What great ideas. My daughter isn’t quite old enough for some of them, but I will keep them in mind!

     
  17. I’d love to come play at your house!!! haha! You’ve got funnnnn stuff. I think my favorite ideas are the painter’s tape letters and the stacking Solo Cups. We’ve been really bored this winter. I’ll be happy when we can go outside to play.

     
  18. We love creating with blocks especially when the weather is yucky. Love the tape letters, great idea we’ll have to use that!

     
  19. We love building things with blocks when it’s yucky outside. Love your tape numbers and letters, that’s a great idea we’ll have to use!

     
  20. Great ideas! We are so bored being at home and stuck inside. Counting down the days till warmer weather! I love the felt mail, so cute!

     
  21. You came up with so many cute activities! I’m so ready for the winter weather to go away so we can go outside!

     
  22. We’ve been fortunate enough to have warmer weather breaking up our crazy winter. A cardboard box did entertain my two-year-old yesterday for about an hour – and for a long while today.

     
  23. These are some great ideas. When my nephew was smaller he LOOOOVED to play restaurant. He could easily be occupied for at least an hour doing that.

     
  24. Lots of great ideas! I loved playing restaurant too when I was a kid

     
  25. I’m going stir crazy so I know kids are going stir crazy! These are some great ideas!

     
  26. That’s a great list! Our winter hasn’t been entirely too horrible but some of these things I will love to try with my own toddler. Thanks for the list.

     
  27. My youngest loved to play restaurant for years!! I am a little sad he’s almost outgrown it now, it was fun to watch him busying it all up in his restaurants. 🙂

     
  28. Great ideas! I think the paint tape would be so much fun to do tic-tac-toe with.

     
  29. These are all such great ideas! I love how you make so much for your kids (and nephews) to play with!

     
  30. My daughter spends a lot of time in the bath or building with LEGOs. That bean idea looks fun, and I’m sure it would be a hit here, too.

     
  31. These are fantastic ideas – and much needed here – we’re on our 7th snow day (and counting)! Love that felt mail kit!

     
  32. Eliz Frank

    My kids loved playing with plastic cups… I’ve never been able to figure out why… Great tips. 🙂

     
  33. I love how simple and easy, yet fun these activities seem. My favorite part is that a lot of these can be done with most of what I have right in my house 🙂

     

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