I don’t know about you guys, but I am done thinking of things to do. Winter break nearly killed me, and I am ready to be back to my one day on, one day off schedule. My students are not quite as needy as my kids!
I’m trying to be proactive, though, which is why I created this list. It’s patterned after the 12 Day of Christmas Activities, which my kids have loved for the 2nd year in a row. The basic idea is that you have some easy, cheap, low-investment activities planned and ready to go. The kids can pick from any of them. When it’s done, you cross it off. The next day, they chose from what’s left.
We love this: me, because it takes the pressure off. I don’t have to come up with tons of fun ideas — we already know what the options are. My kids love choosing, and so far, the ideas have been fun.
Click on the picture below to get the full printable pdf. Below are links to and explanations of the activities. Feel free to put your own spin on them and customize to your own kids’ interests and needs!
- Make a fort. Use whatever you have in the house: cardboard, chairs, blankets, pillows, sheets, etc. Consider eating a snack or playing a game inside your finished fort!
- Bundle up and go for a walk. This doesn’t have to be long – 5 minutes in the cold with a little one is plenty!
- Write a pass-it story. To play, one person says the 1st sentence of the story (“Once upon a time, there was a dog named Joey.”). They then “pass-it” to someone else, who adds another sentence (“Joey liked to play in the mud.”). This continues until someone ends the story.
- Go to the library and check out books about winter. If you don’t have a card, you can still read them there!
- Make cookies for a neighbor. Cake mix cookies are super easy and perfect for little hands to help with!
- Learn a new song about winter. Youtube has some great ideas, including Once There was a Snowman and The Winter Hokey Pokey.
- Make snowflakes for the windows. This instructable breaks it down for you!
- Do a Cosmic Kids Yoga video. If you haven’t met the very British Jamie, then you are missing out. She has tons of videos geared at a variety of ages from 18 months to 8 years old. This one about a twinkling unicorn is my kids’ favorite.
- Participate in Color a Smile. Probably my favorite on the list! All you have to do is go to the Color a Smile website, print off one of their approved coloring pages, color it, and send it to the address on the site. Color a Smile then connects people who need a little joy in their life with the kiddos’ colored masterpieces (this includes vets, seniors, servicemen, and folks in the hospital).
- Make a trash toy. Yep, you read that right. I wouldn’t recommend digging through the trash, but chose a couple of (clean!) pieces of waste and let your kids create something new from them. We’ve turned old graham cracker boxes into doll houses, chip bags into purses, and oatmeal canisters into games, drums, and hats!
- Have an indoor picnic. Make a few sandwiches or finger foods, take your plates in the living room, and eat a picnic. We sometimes watch a movie while we eat for an extra-special treat!
- Make a healthy dish and eat it with dinner. Cooking with kids can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be the worst thing ever. My kids both like ripping lettuce while I chop the rest of the salad ingredients. Other ideas include a healthy smoothie (they can pack the ingredients in the blender), using a plastic knife to chop bananas for a fruit salad, helping wash carrots, or mixing together hummus ingredients for a dip.
- Do a puzzle together. This can be the traditional puzzle with 150+ pieces, or you can print off a puzzle from here, cut it out, and put it back together again. Using popsicle sticks is another option, if you want to get creative!
- Do an animal HIIT workout. High intensity intermittent training may sound like it’s for adults, but kids can benefit from some energetic, kid-friendly moves. My kids love this workout (the actual workout is down at the end of the page with a cute printable), and we also use this Youtube workout!
- Have a paper airplane flying contest. This site has instructions for multiple different kinds of planes. Try a few out and see which ones fly best!
- Take pictures outside all bundled up. Get a few of those cute red-cheeked winter photos. Again, this doesn’t have to take forever or be fancy – grab your phone, take 5 minutes, then enjoy the results inside in the warm!
- Play with baking soda and vinegar. This one is probably my kids’ favorite from the whole list. I give the kids three cups of vinegar, each dyed with food coloring. Then, I give them a styrofoam tray (a bowl or a deep plate will work too) with baking soda in it. They use syringes or eyedroppers to drop the vinegar into the baking soda. It’s smelly, but they love to watch it fizz and the colors mix.
- Make a snowman craft. Customize this anyway you like based on what you have at home. Here, here, and here are a few of our favorites.
- Make a thank you card and deliver it. For someone in or outside your home, with words or without, make a card to brighten someone’s day!
- Make a musical instrument. From Easter egg maracas to straw pan flutes, this list of 20 homemade musical instruments is a great starting place. And if all else fails, there’s always oatmeal can drums!
- Have an indoor snowball fight. Crumple up some paper and throw it at each other! Easy, fun, and energetic!
- Go to a fast food restaurant with an indoor playplace. Don’t feel obliged to buy a ton of stuff. When we were in college and poor, I used to take the kids to the Chick-Fil-A, buy a soda for $1.25, and sit for an hour while the kids played. Before we went in, I made sure to help them understand that the point of being here was not to buy food, but to play somewhere new. Be sure to manage expectations whatever you decide!
- Try salt painting. Salt painting is easy and fun, even if it is a little messy. Cut down on mess by placing the salt painting in a 9×13 baking pan. You can try this January mitten painting activity, or use your imagination!
- Play a board/card game together. If Monopoly sounds exhausting, don’t do it! There are several simple games you can print from the internet. We love Don’t Wake the Shark and Don’t Eat Pete.
- Make binoculars and go birdwatching. Binoculars are as easy as 2 toilet paper tubes glued together (fancy it up with this tutorial). As for birdwatching, you can do it from your windows inside, go for a walk, or take a drive around the neighborhood.
That’s the list! My family will be working through this list in January. If you join us, I’d love to see your projects and fun in the comments, or tag me @homanathome on Instagram!