Winter with the kiddos usually falls into one of two categories: fantastic time outside sledding and building snowmen, or, contracting a case of cabin fever where finding one more indoor activity to occupy your sidekick is as elusive as the sun. Fear not. We’ve rounded up a list of creative activities to get you through those blustery days. Bring on the snowpocalypse!

clouddough_gabbycullen_sensoryplay_national_redtricyclephoto: Gabby Cullen

1. Sweep the clouds away. Clouds outside? No thanks. But clouds inside? Yes, please! Cloud dough equals hours of sensory bliss with your kidlets when playing outside is a no go. Find out how to make this simple, two-ingredient recipe from Rachelle at Tinkerlab. Mix up fun!

2. Give a measured response. Invite your curious cuties to compete in a Tape Measure Treasure Hunt. Arm them with a tape measure (a ruler works too!) and a specific list of items to measure around the house (think: your favorite stuffed bear or the beside lamp). Then send them off to record their findings, while you sit back and smile at the simple brilliance of your plan.

Indoor snipe hunt Cynthia Friart photophoto: Cynthia Friart

3. Go on a Snipe hunt. Who doesn’t love a game of hide-and-go-seek on a winter day? Simple. Fun. But spicing it up is good too. Insert a fanciful twist into this typical play when the Littles hunt snipes instead of each other. Just turn them on and hide them in the perfect spot. Let the hunt begin!

4. Play a silly game. Two words, parents: Silly. String. Break out some cans and set the minis running for a wild game of silly string tag. Play “get hit, you’re it” style, or keep tagging until the whole gang is out. This is one that’s well worth the clean up!

Chris Wellner gumdrop structurephoto: Christine Wellner

5. Build them up. Got gumdrops? Then you’ve got hours of creativity locked and loaded for your budding builder. Get all the deets on this “structured” playtime from Dayna at Lemon Lime Adventures. They sky’s the limit for this one!

6. Play with pillowcases. On your mark. Get set. Go! Trade in burlap potato sacks for pillowcases when you bring this outdoor fave inside to hibernate for the winter. Challenge your crew to “sack up,” then race around the family room or up and down the hall. Use timed trials, an obstacle course or even relay races to extend play with this one.

Racecar_Paint Gluesticks and Stonesphoto: Janelle Vaughan via Gluesticks and Stones

7. Race to the canvas. Busting out the Hot Wheels is always a great way to spend a snowy day. But instead of racing them around the track, race them through paint and then onto the page. Get the revved-up details for your petit Picasso from Janelle over at Gluetsticks and Stones. Double up on the creative play with this one once the kidlets have emptied their creative engines. Simply set up a bubble bath car wash in the tub or sink to get everything (and everyone!) clean again. Start your engines!

8. Plan a play date. Friends are like magic on close quarter, cabin fever days. They give tired toys a new look and might even help your kiddos “disappear”… into the playroom, for at least 30 minutes! Click here for inspiring ideas to help spice up a winter play date before texting your family besties to head on over.

Happy Hooligans Dino digphoto: Jackie Currie via Happy Hooligans

9. Dig for dinos. With a little planning, you can send your wannabe archaeologist on an indoor excavation, Jurassic Park style. Jackie over at Happy Hooligans has the scoop on what’s needed to set up this dynamic ice block dig. And don’t forget the play tray over plastic or the sensory tub to make melty clean-up a cinch with this one!

10. Play ping-pong. You don’t need a ton of space or even an official table to take on your Littles in a modified game of indoor ping-pong. Decorate paper plates (or use leftovers from the latest party) then attach them to craft sticks for the perfect DIY paddle. Balloons become the ball. See how many hits you can get between you and your sidekick. Bring it!

Heather on Creative Commonsphoto: Heather via Flickr Creative Commons

11. Craft Cards. ‘Tis the season for snail mail. So get out your craft stash and set to work making cards for friends and family with your mini Monet when you’re stuck inside. Remember to mail your glittery, gluey creations to eager grandparents, pen pals and friends. It’s an easy to way to send sunshiny cheer!

12. Make a rainbow. Remembering sunny days building sandcastles on the beach is a total perk of this old school preschool activity. All it takes is salt, chalk, clear jars and these easy-to-follow details at SheKnows to bring back the beachside memories. Psst… gift your colorful sand bottle creations to friends and family during the holidays. Two birds, one stone is how rock star parents roll!

Boy playing with shaving cream Barbara Izzo creditphoto: Barbara Izzo

13. Get messy. Sometimes it’s the simple things that get you through the long winter days. Raid dad’s medicine cabinet for spare shaving cream. Then engage the kiddos in easy-to-clean up shaving cream sensory play. Easy looks good on you!

thaumatrope what we do all day blogphoto: What We Do All Day

14. Set things in motion. Science meets art in this easy-peasy activity that creates a cool optical illusion, with materials we’re sure you’ve got around the house (paper, straws, tape and scissors). Find out everything you need to know about making thaumatropes (including the science behind it!) at What We Do All Day.

Do you have a favorite indoor activity for wintery days? Have you tried any of these? Share your thoughts in a comment. 

–Allison Sutcliffe

Feature photo: Chelsea Piers Field House

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