25 Snow Day and Winter Break Boredom Busters

Family, Featured Article

Sure, snow days and holidays at home during chilly winter months may sound great, but in reality, parents hear a lot of the dreaded “I’m bored!” during those days. Never fear. When the weather outside is frightful, try these 25 low-cost, low-maintenance (but totally fun!) indoor activities.

  1. DIY Hot-Chocolate Party: Make a big batch of cocoa together, and set out bowls of yummy add-ins, like marshmallows, chocolate chip, crushed candy canes and whipped cream.
  1. Stuffed-Animal Zipline: A long piece of string or yarn and a clothes hanger with clips make for a funny way for little ones’ stuffed toys to travel.
  1. Carpet Expressway: Use masking or painter’s tape to make roads and tracks on the floor for Matchbox cars and other vehicles. (If the kiddos are really motivated, they can use LEGOs to build a whole town around it!)
  1. Yarn Lasers: Remember those cool scenes of thieves and spies gingerly maneuvering through laser fields in movies like Ocean’s Twelve and Entrapment? Let your kids try it out at home with yarn and tape in a hallway.
  1. Balloon Ping Pong: Affix big popsicle sticks to paper plates to make the paddles, and bat a balloon over a table or couch. (This one requires at least two people.)
  1. Pool Noodle Racetrack: Repurpose a foam pool noodle from the summer, and turn it into a track for little cars. Slice it in half lengthwise with a serrated knife, then use toothpicks to attach the halves to make two side-by-side tracks. Snip the exposed ends off the toothpicks with pliers.
  1. Balloon-Powered Rocket: Some string, an empty paper-towel tube, tape and a balloon are all you need to make your own rocket—this one’s fun and educational!
  1. Kitchen-Table Volcano: This activity is a little messy and will need a bit of parental guidance, but kids love learning about chemical reactions with the classic volcano project.
  1. Miniature Geodesic Domes: Budding engineers can build, tear down and rebuild cool structures with toothpicks, dry spaghetti or plastic straws, plus gumdrops, marshmallows, Play-Doh or frozen peas.
  1. “Snow” Writing: Preschoolers and early writers can practice their letters and words in salt “snow” on a tray, take-out container top, pizza box or rimmed baking sheet.
  1. Reading Fort: Use blankets and pillows to make a cozy nook under a table, between the wall and sofa, or in another fun, hidden-away spot. Give kids flashlights or decorate with white twinkle lights, and invite them to climb in with their favorite books. (Here’s a list of great winter-themed picture books for younger readers.)
  1. Paint the Snow: Fill a plastic bin with snow, bring it back inside and let kids paint it with brushes and water dyed with food coloring.
  1. Indoor Spider’s Web: Use blue painter’s tape to make a web at the top of a doorway. Kids can take turns throwing crumpled newspaper balls at the web to see what sticks and what sails through the gaps.
  1. Homemade Holiday Gifts: If there’s enough time before Christmas, kill two birds with one stone and have kids create cards for family, make DIY snow globe gifts, or help bake cookies or bread for neighbors and teachers. They can be the official taste-testers, too!
  1. DIY Bird Feeders: Use empty plastic soda or water bottles or halved oranges, or peanut butter–covered pine cones to make feeders for feathered friends.
  1. Wrapping-Paper Murals: You’ve likely got rolls of the stuff around for the holidays, so unroll it, flip it over and cover a table with it. Kids can go to town with markers and crayons. Butcher or kraft paper works well, too.
  1. Indoor Ice Skating: Put on some music and let kids wear their socks or paper-plate “skates” to zoom across the floor. For an educational component for younger kids, write letters on pieces of paper, scatter them on the floor, and have kids identify the letter and its sound when they skate to each one.
  1. Stuffed Animal Hide-and-Seek: Hide one of their stuffed pals and send them on a bear hunt—or a monkey, puppy, kitty or dinosaur hunt—to retrieve it. (Just make sure you’re always the hider!)
  1. Declutter & Donate: Get older kids, tweens and teens into the spirit of giving by having them collect their clothes, books and toys that are still in good shape but no longer worn or used to donate to needy families. Let them turn on their favorite music as an accompaniment.
  1. At-Home Scavenger Hunt: This takes some planning ahead of time, but it can keep kids entertained for quite a while during the winter break. Make a list of items kids need to find around your home or in your backyard, and send them on their merry way!
  1. Winter Tree Silhouettes: Tear strips of masking tape and attach to a piece of paper in a tree shape, then paint around it. Let it dry, then remove the tape.
  1. Marshmallow Math: Kids can practice beginning math concepts with marshmallows, a die and an easy-to-make construction-paper mug.
  1. Obstacle Course: Rearrange the furniture and put couch cushions and pillows on the floor. Kids can determine how to get through it, and even pretend the floor is a shark-infested sea or hot lava.
  1. Pool Noodle Baseball: Another use for the summertime pool noodles. Play batter-up with balloons or an inflated beach ball—anything that won’t break a window!
  1. Family Room Drive-In: Every once in a while, a movie is just the ticket. Recycle square cardboard boxes from holiday gifts into little cars for kids to sit in to watch the flick. Decorate with racing stripes and paper-plate “tires”—or keep it super-simple and just have kids use their imaginations.
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