Canadian winters often bring extreme cold, freezing rain, and blizzards, which can leave parents struggling to keep kids busy indoors for a prolonged period. Check out these ideas to keep kids stimulated and engaged indoors until they get the all-clear to go back outside.
Get your groove on
Turn on some fun, upbeat music and get moving! Favourite Canadian children’s performers such as Judy & David or Jack Grunsky will have the kids singing, stomping, and clapping along (and burning up all that excess energy). Amp up the fun by dressing up and/or encouraging the kids to come up with new or wacky dance moves to share!
Get a clue
If you’re able to prepare one ahead of time, a clue-based scavenger hunt is an amazing idea for indoor fun — children absolutely love the challenge! For a spur-of-the-moment scavenger hunt, try hiding the first object, give the kids a clue, and then get the next one ready while they’re searching. An alternative is to make a treasure hunt by hiding a large number of identical or similar objects. The child who unearths the largest number can choose the next activity, or a treat!
When boredom sets in, pull out the arts and crafts supplies. Activities can range from writing and illustrating books with paper, pencils, crayons and/or markers to larger-scale operations such as designing and constructing forts. Blankets and furniture are all that’s required to create a terrific enclosure in which to share a story or a snack. If you have access to a large cardboard box, fort-making can become a more in-depth project involving the cutting out of windows and doors, decorating, and fashioning of add-ons such as mailboxes. Another idea is to keep a roll of newsprint on hand (ask your local newspaper for end-of-the roll deals) to spread out on the floor or tape to a wall for the kids to make a mural. The big, blank “canvas” never fails to inspire!
Get busy in the kitchen
Cooking is great fun, but consider helping the kids whip up some food they can play with, such as edible play dough (consider the oatmeal play dough recipe that can be painted when dry). Have a family pooch? Children will love making homemade dog biscuits for their pet. Later, they can keep busy using them to entice Rover to sit up, roll over, and play dead. If you’re snowed in and ingredient-challenged, run some water in the kitchen sink with a little dish soap to make bubbles, toss in some non-breakable cups, spoons, and measuring equipment, and let your child stand on a step-stool to splash and putter away!
Engage your children’s minds with science experiments! Something as simple as watching baking soda and vinegar fizz up repeatedly will fascinate kids. When they’re ready to move on from basic chemistry, check out the great project ideas at Yes Mag, Canada’s science magazine for adventurous minds, which will keep the kids busy (and learning!) for hours.