The winter months can be a real challenge for parents. Even adults tend to get “cabin fever” after a few weeks cooped up inside. But then the kids start up that all too familiar whine … “I’m boooored”, along with a double chorus of “There’s nothing to dooooo”.
Ok, before you go nuts, we’re here to help with some ideas for winter family activities. Water games in the backyard may be out of the question for a few months, but you can still have a load of fun and make wonderful memories together.
Of course, snow can be a big help (if you live in an area where you get some). You can all bundle up and head out to sled and make a snowman. But you’re still going to need more ideas to get you through the colder months.
Here are our 15 ideas for winter family activities:
1. Take the Family Ice-skating.
Again, how you do this will depend on where you live. You may be able to skate on frozen ponds outdoors. If not, lots of towns have local rinks you can go to.
Or how about making a rink of your own in your backyard? That might sound like a major project, but it’s not as hard as you think. Check out this Instructables page to build one for around $300 that should last up to 5 winters.
2. Try Snow Painting.
This is another way to enjoy an hour outside, and it’s really easy to do. Just mix some food coloring with water to make your “paint.” Use different things for varied effects as you paint. Some examples are plastic drink bottles, spray bottles, syringes and water guns.
Watch this video we found to see just how easy snow paint is …
3. Plan an Outing to the Mall.
Malls are great in the winter time. You don’t have to go there for shopping and spend a bunch of money — they’re full of safe indoor activities. And, very conveniently, they have food courts for lunch right there on site too.
4. Check Out a Museum.
Museums, aquariums, art galleries and the like are great places to visit in the winter. Tip: Check out their websites ahead of time. There are usually special seasonal programs offered for kids, and special discounts, and you can often print off coupons to save some money.
5. Have a Karaoke Party.
Karaoke machines have become amazingly inexpensive, or you may even be able to rent one nearby (Google “rent a karaoke machine near me”). It’s a lot of fun for the whole family. You’ll either discover some amazing talent, or have a lot of laughs. Maybe both. This could become a regular winter evening go-to activity.
6. Get in the Kitchen Together.
Buy a kid-friendly recipe book, and you’ll have all the instructions you need for some hours of fun together. You could be adventurous and try preparing a whole meal together, but we suggest that maybe you start off with baking. It’s easier and it’s especially fun. Cookies are always a winner – and you can do themed ones around the holidays.
7. Enjoy Craft Days.
Put together a box of art supplies and create snowflakes or snowmen to decorate the house. Pinterest will be your best friend for so many ideas, you’ll never run out.
8. Feed the Birds.
- Another winter family activity is a birdfeeder. During the winter, local birds are out hunting for food and water.
- Put out a birdfeeder (Either buy one, or build your own.)
Have your kids watch through a window for the birds that come around. Let them use your cell phone to take pictures of each different kind, and then they can try to identify them using whatbird.com
9. Find Resources for Winter Family Activities Online.
Search for children’s activity websites. Some of these sites have lots of printable coloring and project sheets. There are also lots of age appropriate online video games – the educational kind, not just “shoot-em-ups”.
Check out funbrain.com
10. Cultivate a Love of Reading.
Of course, we should encourage kids to read all year round, but the winter means stretches of time when other distractions aren’t an option. Make a special outing out of going to the library to pick out some books. Hold your own reading challenge to see how many books each family member can read each week.
Another fun activity is to read classic stories all together. Here’s a short list you might consider:
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
- Alice in Wonderland
- The Wizard of Oz
- Charlotte’s Web
- Peter Pan
- A Wrinkle in Time
- The Chronicles of Narnia
11. Dust Off Some Board Games.
One of the real joys is teaching these games to your kids for the first time. Even old favorites that you’ve played a thousand times can turn into hours of fun and laughter. Some examples: Sorry, Clue, Monopoly, Uno, Battleships or Twister.
Have you lost your old favorites, or have pieces gone missing? Most are still available to buy online. Or check eBay for second hand sets in good condition.
12. Jigsaw Puzzles.
Similar to the board game theme. If you have a table that can be tied up for a while, the family can work on a big puzzle (1000 pieces or more) over a period of time. Work on it until bedtime or boredom, and then leave it for another day.
Tip: If you’re going to do a few puzzles over winter, you can pick them up cheaply at Goodwill … but just be prepared for the frustration if you find in the end that a piece is missing!
13. Build an Indoor Fort or Hideout.
What kid doesn’t enjoy making a fort? Most of us have done this both outside and in our bedrooms. The inside version is usually made out of blankets, pillows and cardboard boxes, and you can get as elaborate as you like. It’ll take a little bit of tidying up afterwards, but so what? It can be so much fun.
14. Help Your Kids Put on a Magic Show.
There are lots of YouTube videos that teach kids how to do simple magic tricks. Have your kids occupy themselves learning some of these, and then arrange an evening when you as parents are going to sit down and watch their show. You can fill up a few more hours spending time with you making their magician outfits. And finally, maybe you could let them charge you admission to see their show?
15. Make Your Own Movie.
These days, most people have decent quality video cameras right on their phone. Put it to good use, and have the kids produce their own short film. This could be one of the longer winter family activities. They’ll need to come up with an idea or story, write a script, make costumes, plan sets, and shoot the scenes. Younger children will obviously need a lot of help, but as they get older they can do most of it themselves.
When it’s finally finished, pop the popcorn, dim the lights, and all the family take your seats!
Over to You …
So, those are our favorite picks for 15 winter family activities. Why don’t you read back over the list twice. The first time pick out the ones you think you might like to try. Then the second time you read it, let each idea prompt you to come up with a few others and write your own list. We’d love to hear your ideas, so leave a comment below.
Have a great time with your family this winter. Keep the kids active, and remember the words of orphan Annie … “The sun’ll come out tomorrow.”
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