Once winter weather sets in, it can be easy to feel the cabin fever of being “trapped” at home with your toddler or preschooler. I’ve written lots of posts over the years on “Cheap Dates with Toddlers” that feature easy, fun and cheap activities. Here are my 18 best ideas for winter fun with your little one.
- Go to the playground in the winter–just bundle up and bring a towel to dry everything off!
- Check to see if your local parks department or community center offers an indoor playground–they can provide lots of gross motor play with new friends, out of the weather.
- Hike in the woods and have a nature scavenger hunt to see what you can find.
- Take a ride on a bus or train or ferry, just for the fun of the journey. Just because you might no think riding on a bus is exciting doesn’t mean it’s not super exciting for your child!
- Find a construction site and watch the work.
- Attend library story time. They’re free, often happen at several locations each week and are great for encouraging a love of reading.
- Go to the store–a hardware store, grocery store, whatever—and focus on sharing the experience with your child instead of on your shopping list.
- Wander around a rock yard looking at big rocks and collecting a few small pebbles to bring home.
- Go to a pet store—or as we like to call them “small animal zoos with free admission”.
- Watch the fish at an aquarium, or even just in the small fish tank at your local Chinese restaurant.
- Go to a dog park. Watching very happy pups is a great mood lifter.
- Check out a sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt—just watching the food go around is great entertainment!
- If you can find leftover plastic Easter eggs, you can pull them out for a fun hunt any day.
- Bring snow inside! Put it on the floor of the shower or in the bathtub. Put your child in fully clothed so they stay warm. All the melting ice will run down the drain, and when your child is done, you can run a warm bath to warm them back up.
- Try ice play. Fill a container with water, add a plastic toy (or several) and freeze it. Then give your kid water, pipettes or eye droppers, spoons or salt to melt the ice with.
- Indoor snowball fight1 Make or buy big white pompoms, soft white balls or wadded up paper balls. Fill a basket with them. Then spontaneously start snowball battles anytime you want! Not only is this tons of fun, I like playing games where I throw (soft) things at my kids. It helps them be a little bolder about ball games later in life, such as helping them become a little more willing to head the ball in a soccer game.
- Crafts for days: cut out paper mittens and decorate them. Cut out paper circles to make snowmen pictures with. Make white playdough. Play with toy animals in it, pointing out the tracks they leave behind in the “snow.”
- Read winter-themed books to your little one, such as Amy Loves the Snow by Julia and Lillian Hoban, The Snowman by Raymond Briggs, the Red Sled and Red Hat picture books by Lita Judge, The Mitten by Jan Brett—and of course, the classic children’s book, Snowy Day, by Ezra Keats.
What are some of your favorite winter boredom busters? Share in the comments!