Rain, snow, and cold weather often translate into more inside time for kids. Unfortunately, it often means more screen time, sedentary behaviors, unhealthy snacking, and ‘I’m bored’ complaints. Our November holiday post includes a host of great non-screen activities for kids. Here are a few more ideas for keeping your kids occupied in positive ways on foul-weather days this winter:
Reading three ways. (1) Start a reading challenge where kids earn markers (such as stickers) for each book they finish. Offer non-material rewards for reaching specific goals: for 10 books, a favorite meal for dinner; for 15 books, the privilege of choosing what to watch on family movie night. (2) Select a beloved book somewhat above your kids’ reading levels, get cozy, and read it aloud. (3) Download a free kids classic audiobook and settle back to listen while a professional with lots of great voices makes the story jump right off the pages.
Build a fort. Gather a big pile of blankets, comforters, sheets, and pillows. Give kids permission to move furniture to add structure and let them go wild building an intricate blanket fort. They’ll play in it for hours, but be prepared when they want to sleep there too!
Cook or bake. Involve kids in cooking and baking projects. Let them do all the measuring and mixing, and demonstrate how to safely use knives, mixers, burners, and ovens. Teach other things, too. For example, what does each ingredient add to a recipe in terms of nutrition, flavor, and function? How is baking a lot like being a chemist?
Teach them to clean. Teach kids how to operate real household appliances such as a vacuum cleaner, washer, or clothes dryer. If vacuuming, let them explore what each attachment does and explain what it means to do a thorough job of vacuuming. Show them how to sort, wash, dry, and fold laundry. As an incentive to learn and help, let them keep any loose change they find under cushions or in pockets. If you do this when kids are still relatively young and eager to learn, they’ll have fewer excuses for not helping around the house in their teen years.
Introduce ‘old-fashioned’ games. You might not have many board games lying around the house anymore, but there is plenty you can do with a simple deck of cards. Rediscover the joys of playing Go Fish, Crazy Eights, Slapjack, Rummy, Blackjack, Solitaire, Spit, and so many more. You can also encourage kids to research, learn, and practice cool magic card tricks.
Online learning. If your kids simply must use their screens, encourage them to spend at least part of the time learning and practicing valuable digital skills such as photo or video editing, making music, animation, or keyboarding (typing with all ten fingers without looking down). There are literally thousands of great, free tutorials available on YouTube and other sites.