Summer has ended, and that means winter is here with cooler temperatures and shorter days, rain and snow - which leads to the question: what are some good winter activity ideas to do with my kids? It can be hard to think of ideas when you’re already cooped up inside, so having a few suggestions can make life a lot easier.
When our bubs are little, it can often be easier to entertain them when the rain is falling outside. Simple toys, such as Haakaa’s Silicone Arch Stacker Set are ideal for little hands and have the advantage of acting both as a stacker and as something for open-ended play, giving untold possibilities for creative design. In addition, they’re made of sturdy yet soft silicone, so are great for babies who are teething.
For those who are a bit older, a different range of activities might be needed. An indoor picnic might be just the adventure older children (including toddlers!) are after, and this can be preceded by having the kids help with some baking. There are even a range of recipes for no-bake cookies and slices out there if you feel the little ones aren’t old enough to help with anything using the oven. Having something to eat on their indoor picnic that they’ve made themselves can lead to a real sense of accomplishment, as well as give them the chance to learn some beginner cooking skills.
As children continue to grow, other activities may be more appropriate. For example, making their own superhero masks or designing their own board game can while away the hours when the weather is dreary, as well as provide the chance for creative entertainment while giving a sense of achievement. And I’m sure many of us remember the fun of making a fort out of chairs and blankets. The good news is that it’s just as fun now as it was then! Pulling out a few dining chairs and covering them with sheets or blankets results in a cosy little cave to let imaginations run wild, or fill with pillows to serve as a quiet space to curl up with a book or favourite toy. At home movie days can be a load of fun – set up some blankets and pillows on the floor (or keep the fort out with the front opened up!) and make a bowl of popcorn (or a more age-appropriate snack for the wee ones), pull the curtains, and enjoy your own cosy theatre.
Sometimes, though, you don’t want to be stuck inside. So what about outdoor winter activities? If you don’t mind them (or yourself!) getting a little wet and dirty, the simplicity of going outside to dance in the rain or jump in puddles brings its own sense of joy. Tug on a pair of gumboots, grab a raincoat, and enjoy the splashing!
Although it’s winter, it’s still possible to have fun in the garden. Garlic is traditionally planted on the shortest day of the year then harvested on the longest, although planting any time during winter should be fine. All you need is a bulb of garlic, a nice patch of garden with full sun and free-draining soil, and you’re good to go! Make sure to get a bulb with trimmed roots still on the base. Break the bulb up, and reserve the large, outside cloves for planting. You can eat the rest in that night’s dinner! Plant the cloves about 5cm deep with the root at the bottom, roughly 25cm apart. If your soil is frozen, you can start them off in seedling trays, but make sure to transplant them before they outgrow their home. Then, once summer rolls back around, you’ll have a lovely crop of home-grown, organic garlic.
For those in areas where it gets cold enough to snow, the snow itself provides its own wealth of activities. But there’s more to sub-freezing temperatures than just snowmen! Bundle the kids up in warm clothes and try making frozen bubbles. You can use regular bubble mixture or make your own with relative ease. To make your own, you’ll need:
- 1 cup of warm water
- 2.5 tablespoons of corn/sugar syrup
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar
- 2.5 tablespoons of dish soap
Start by pouring the warm water into a container. Stir in the corn/sugar syrup until well mixed, then mix the sugar in until dissolved. Finally, stir in the dish soap – be very gentle as you don’t want to froth up the mixture. Once mixed, you can leave the container outside to chill. Don’t let it freeze – it just needs to cool enough to give the bubbles a chance to quickly freeze outside before they pop. Once prepared, you can then use your bubble blower of choice to make your bubbles. To get them to freeze, you’ll need to carefully blow them onto a cold surface, so a straw may be the best thing to use as a bubble blower. Little fingers may have trouble at first with this stage, so they will need some help from an adult. The colder the surface (and the air), the more quickly and easily the bubbles will freeze, so have fun experimenting to see what works best for you and what range of unique patterns form as they freeze!
Of course, staying home isn’t the only option. If you’d prefer to head out, you might like to go to your city’s museum – there are often some excellent areas and exhibits for kids, especially during school holidays. Alternatively, your local library can be a great stop – the excitement of choosing a book to borrow and then reading it at home is a fantastic distraction from gloomy weather.
Winter activities don’t have to be expensive or complicated, nor do they have to serve any particular purpose. Getting the chance to enjoy an activity with our wee ones, no matter how simple, can be enormously rewarding and help make the bad weather more interesting for everyone involved.