Snowed In: Indoor Fun For Little Ones

Mom with her boys playing indoor in tent / fortNicole Reed

I live in a part of the United States that has received a lot of snow so far this winter. The most recent storm dumped nearly two feet of snow on us! My two boys are pretty little – ages two and four – and even though they enjoy going outside in the snow for short bursts of time, they prefer playing inside when it’s cold outside. I think there’s still a lot of winter ahead of us, and there are probably plenty of other parents who are trying to think of ways to keep their children entertained inside when outside play time is limited. I thought I’d share a few things that we do to pass the time and try to prevent cabin fever.

  • Blanket/pillow forts. This is a classic that was fun for me when I was growing up and something that my boys absolutely love to do. Sometimes we throw blankets over the dining room table, and my children bring their stuffed animals or cars or their plastic and wooden animals into the fort.
  • Sensory box with rice. I bought several bags of uncooked rice and poured them into a large plastic container. I added scoops and some of the boy’s cars and little figures, and they love to dig around in the container, making rice mountains and trails. This can get a little messy, and I do have to sweep up rice afterward, so we do this on the kitchen floor or put a blanket underneath it while they play. (Editor’s note: For those who prefer to use non-food items in a sensory box, options could include feathers, cotton balls, pom poms, kinetic sand, sandbox sand, potting soil, water, etc. Please note that some of these items could be considered choking hazards. As always, consider what works best for your family.)
  • Snow in the bathtub. I’ve only done this once or twice, but it was a big hit. I brought in a few big buckets of snow and dumped them in the bathtub. My four-year-old is big enough that he can lean over the side and play with the snow if he wants. I’ll put my two-year-old in his snow suit and lift him into the tub, and usually my older son wants to do the same. They don’t always want to play with the snow for long, but they think it’s neat to be inside the house and bring some of the outside in.
  • Salt painting. I have to remember to prepare this ahead of time, but it’s quick and easy to do. I’ll make designs on a piece of paper (something sturdier like cardstock works well) using “school” glue and then shake salt over the paper. Shake the extra salt off and let the glue dry. Then you can use watercolor paints to paint over the dry salt-glue mixture. My boys think it’s magic!
  • Toy “spa” day. My boys love to gather all of their stuffed animals and action figures so we can “pamper” them. We’ll spot clean them with a wet washcloth and wrap them in fuzzy towels or blankets, then place them somewhere comfortable to relax for a while (usually the back of the couch). We’ll even “light” battery-operated candles and play music for that spa atmosphere.
  • Special treats. Cold, snowy days are perfect for warm treats. I’ve offered hot chocolate with special toppings like whipped cream and chocolate sprinkles, but neither of my sons really likes warm drinks at this point. So, we improvise and have a little chocolate milk in a special cup! And, an easy treat that we save for snow days is cinnamon sugar pie dough strips. I take ready-made pie dough, cut it into strips, sprinkle it with cinnamon sugar, and bake them.

Hopefully these ideas can help other parents and children enjoy the days when outside play isn’t likely to happen!

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