Cold Weather Sanity Savers

Several mornings ago, my boys roused me from a warm, sound sleep and screeched, “You need to come see what we see!  Come see it now!”

What we saw was a beautiful pink and orange sunrise, with a light dusting of fresh, Michigan snow on the ground!

Winter had come.

You know, I really do like Winter. I think snow is beautiful and since I’m sort of a homebody anyway, I don’t mind snuggling up inside near the wood stove in the family room. The problem lies in that I have two high energy boys who will find mischief if they get bored.

The following list of cold weather sanity savers is by far incomplete, as I am constantly searching for new things to do indoors. However, it’s a good place to start. I invite you to add your favorite indoor activities or links in the comments section below. Let’s help each other out and share ideas, parent to parent!

1. Sensory Bins are plastic containers filled with objects that children can feel and interact with. We have a bean bin, corn bin, and rice bin that are rotated on a weekly basis. Colin and Owen love digging, so these are the materials that work best for us. Mini construction vehicles, marble run pieces, ice-cream scoops, funnels, and measuring cups are just a few of the “accessories” that keep the bins fresh and exciting.

2. Magnets simply fascinate Colin and Owen. I purchased this magnet set at our local education store for under $5.00 and it holds their attention for quite a while. Every time I set it out, I try to add something different to it . . . paperclips . . . bolts . . . wires . . .

3. Manipulatives, like these Linky Loos (as Colin calls them), keep little hands and minds occupied. Just the other night, Colin linked every piece from the entire container and created an enormous, impressive chain.

Some of our other favorite manipulative toys include Lego Duplos and Tinker Toys.

4. Speaking of Tinker Toys, try this Indoor Fishing game. First, invite your child to build a fishing pole. Next, use double sided tape to attach a magnet to the bottom. Cut out several construction paper fish and slip a paperclip onto each one. Voila! Indoor fishing . . . a fine and gross motor developing activity that also reinforces color recognition.

5. Freshen up an old toy by adding new pieces or presenting it in a creative way. Owen used to enjoy his Plan Toys barn, horse stable, tractor, and animals constantly, but he hasn’t played with them for months. I recently noticed that he now has an affinity for toys that are realistic in appearance, and though adorable, the wooden animals that came with his farm set are rather cartoonish. I revived his farm by purchasing new farm animals and creating a felt pasture, pond, and field for them.

6. Try a “new to you” homemade craft recipe like this Snow Dough (originally known as Modeling Clay from The Toddler’s Busy Book. Colin renamed it Snow Dough because that is exactly what it looks like).

  • 2 cups salt
  • 2/3 cups water
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup cold water

Stir water and salt over heat for 5 minutes. Add cornstarch and cold water. Stir until smooth and cook until thick. Cool and shape as desired. Our Snow Dough ornaments took about 4 days to dry completely before we could paint them and seal them.

7. Add toothpicks, pipe cleaners, googly eyes, tube pasta, and beads to the play dough box occasionally. See what interesting creations your kids come up with!

8. I’ve seen some incredible homemade light tables on other blogs (maybe I’ll make one someday) but for now, we just use the window. Simply tape a square of clear contact paper to the window (sticky side facing you). Invite your child to practice patterns or create scenes with buttons, clear tiles, Styrofoam peanuts, pom poms, and anything else that will stick. Colin and Owen LOVE this!

9. Forts can provide hours of indoor fun. I can’t help but share this 2011 photograph of the boys playing in their pirate cave.

10. Get outside and paint the snow (or driveway . . . our light dusting of snow melted before noon).

  • 4 TBSP cornstarch
  • 5 TBSP water
  • 5-10 drops of food coloring

2 thoughts on “Cold Weather Sanity Savers

  1. Pingback: The Best (and Worst!) of 2012 | Fireflies and Mud Pies

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