Family Life

14 Fun Things to Do with the Kids When It’s Cold Outside

The cold weather has a lot of folks hunkering down at home – and that can make it hard on parents. When it’s too cold to let the kids burn off some energy outside, you may struggle to find ways to keep them entertained indoors. 

How do you keep your children from becoming frustrated and bored? We have a few ideas you can use to keep the “cabin fever” at bay:

1. Do Winter Wonderland Crafts

There’s nothing that will spark a kid’s creativity like a big box of craft supplies. You can direct the action with winter-themed crafts like snowflake decorations, paper plate penguins and cotton ball snowmen – or go the opposite direction and create paper flowers in anticipation of spring. When you’re done, turn the kids loose with the tape and let them decorate their rooms with their creations for a little extra fun.

2. Make a Homemade Hot Chocolate Station

Who doesn’t love hot chocolate on a cold winter day? Get out all the supplies and let the kids customize their hot chocolate with toppings like whipped cream, marshmallows and sprinkles. This can be a stand-alone event that you turn into a little “togetherness time,” or you could use this idea to kick-off or cap off another one of these ideas.

3. Host an Indoor Scavenger Hunt

A trip to the dollar store for some small prizes, e.g., coloring books, crayons, candy and other treats, and a little ingenuity is all it takes to create an indoor scavenger hunt. Hide the items around the house and give the kids a list of clues about how to find them. They get to keep what they find, and you get to watch them practice their problem-solving skills.

4. Create a Winter Reading Nook

If you want to aim for a little quiet time, get out the books. Set up a cozy reading nook with blankets, pillows and a selection of library books – and don’t forget your own winter reads! Encourage the kids to immerse themselves in stories of snowy adventures and frosty magic and make reading an actual family event.

5. Have a Baking Extravaganza

From sugar cookies shaped like snowflakes to gingerbread houses, the possibilities are endless. Baking not only provides tasty treats but also teaches valuable skills like measurement and teamwork and it’s a great way to teach the kids the kind of skills they can use for a lifetime.

6. Do a Movie Marathon

Frankly, there’s never really a wrong time for a movie marathon – but they’re especially fun to do when the weather is dreadful. Pick family-friendly films and don’t forget the popcorn and cozy blankets for the ultimate movie night experience. They’ll love curling up on the couch with you ─ and the movies offer effortless entertainment.

7. Try Some Snowy Science Experiments

Bring the magic of winter indoors with snowy science experiments. Create snowflakes using borax crystals, or explore the science of frost with frozen bubbles, or make your own snow using a few common household ingredients. These experiments are educational but fun – and they can instill a love of science in your little ones.

8. Make DIY Winter Playdough

Mix up a batch of DIY winter-themed playdough for hours of imaginative play. Add glitter for a frosty touch, and let the kids sculpt snowmen, snowflakes and whatever else their imagination inspires them to make. Playdough activities stimulate creativity and fine motor skills.

9. Have a Faux Snowball Fight

If going outside for a real snowball fight isn’t an option, have a virtual snowball fight using soft indoor “snowballs” made of rolled up socks. Create forts using couch cushions and engage in a friendly competition (parent vs. kids). It probably won’t be long before you’re laughing and ready for that hot chocolate station mentioned earlier.

10. Start Family Game Night

It’s never too early to make family game night a tradition – so yank out Candyland or any other game that’s age-appropriate, pour some snacks into a bowl and get the card table out. Game nights foster family bonding and create lasting memories.

11. Make a Blanket Fort Hideaway

This is a great idea that you can easily combine with reading, movies or games. Transform your living room into a cozy little retreat by building a blanket fort out of all the pillows, cushions and throw blankets around. Add fairy lights for a magical touch and let the kids’ imaginations run wild as they play, read or simply relax in their personalized hideaway.

12. Go on a Library Adventure

Do you feel like you absolutely need to get out of the house for a while? The one place you can trust to be a haven from the cold and utterly within your budget is your local library. Check their website for kid-friendly shows, story hours and craft programs you can attend for a special treat, or just load up the kids and let them explore the books.

13. Have a Dress-Up Party 

Turn a dull winter day into a vibrant dress-up party. Encourage the kids to raid their costume box or closet and create their own fabulous, over-the-top costumes. You can even add a theme to this game, like superheroes, fairies, princesses or whatever strikes your fancy. Another twist on this is to have everybody dress up in their fanciest costumes and have brunch together as if you were out on the town.

14. Try a Museum Exploration

Museums are great ways to beat the winter blues when you have kids. Many museums offer interactive exhibits and educational programs for children. Explore exhibits related to natural history, science or art and walk off a little restless energy at the same time.

You can’t exactly do anything about the weather, so lean into the chill and embrace the opportunity to create some unforgettable moments with your kids. Shut out the cold and make the most of the indoors to promote creativity and family togetherness. So, bundle up, get cozy and let the winter fun begin!