Keeping kids busy in the summer can be tough but it's even worse during winter, especially during winter break. Sure, there are snowball fights, snowmen and even snow angels, but when there's none of the fluffy white stuff you have to get inventive, especially if you want to make sure your kids aren't spending too many hours staring at a screen.
Next time you and the kids are stuck inside all day due to some nasty winter weather try one of these awesome indoor games:
1. Homemade race track
This works best on any kind of floor (use blue painter's tape for hardwood floors and masking tape for carpet) and is remarkably easy. All you have to do is lay out some masking tape around part of your living room floor and draw little lines in the center to make each strip look like a road. You can add some obstacles in the form of toys to make it more challenging. Then race your kids or get them to race around the track together.
2. Balloon ball
Take anything super fragile out of the room and give each of your kids a small pool noodle and a balloon. You don't have to make rules, but one great way to structure this is to give each kid the goal of keeping their balloon off the ground (you can also get kids working together to keep one balloon off the ground).
3. Supervised pillow fight
All right, you don't have to watch the whole time but make sure you take anything fragile, sharp or pointy out of the room before you let the kids loose. If you can convince them to use throw pillows you can greatly reduce the risk of harm.
4. Make your own music video
Kids might not want you posting everything about them online but they do love watching themselves on video. Blast a song you can all agree on (there is at least one, right?) and get the kids dancing their heart out. Film it on your tablet or phone and show it to them when they're done! If you dance with them you can even get a sweet workout this way.
5. Pop bottle bowling
Those empty two liter bottles can be a lot more than just junk taking up room in your house. Transform them into bowling pins and get your kids to use a lightweight ball to knock them over. This is a great way to get them practicing their aim too!
6. Marching band
This one can get pretty noisy so don't get them doing it unless you can handle the noise—or you have a pair of noise-blocking headphones to wear while the kids are at it. You can get them to use toy instruments (if they really want a real recorder or other simple instrument works too) or just give them pots, pans and wooden spoons. Get them marching up and down the house and they'll get some much needed exercise.
7. Tape maze
Get your kids thinking hard with a masking tape maze. If you really want to challenge them time them to see who can escape the maze fastest.
8. Coloring books/prints
Your kids might need an activity with more movement to get their excess energy out but coloring books/prints are a great activity to wind down to the end of the day. If you've used up all your coloring books you can find free coloring sheets available for download online. Or you can draw your own images for the kids to color in if you want to tap into your artistic side. Another great color activity: coloring sugar!
9. Tape hopscotch
It turns out that tape is actually the ultimate entertainment tool. Use tape to make an easy-to-remove hopscotch course on your living room floor. You can make this as complicated as you have room for or add to it as the kids overcome each challenge.
10. Play-Doh challenges
Play-Doh is actually easy to make at home (you probably already have most of the ingredients) and is a great way to get kids' imaginations going. You can challenge them to make something specific or let them do whatever they want.
11. Build a blanket fort
This one is a lot of fun to do together. Pull all your blankets and pillows into the living room and build them into a fort where you and your kids can trade fun stories and hang out for the day.
12. Indoor picnic
Spread a blanket out on the floor and have an indoor picnic for dinner. Get the kids involved in making the picnic with you as much as possible.
There are a lot of great board games but only a handful really encourage creativity and drive learning. Playing Scrabble with the kids is a great way to pass the evening.
Every household should have a nice set of paints stashed away in case of bad weather. Whether you get your kids painting art or get them to help you touch up spots of paint around the house (you'd be amazed how much most kids will love actually fixing up the house) painting is a great activity for kids of all ages.
15. Get baking
Younger kids can help you bake all kinds of warm and delicious treats and you can challenge older kids to make their own recipes. This is also a great way to get your kids involved in the kitchen.
16. Treasure hunt
Hide some cool little toys or healthy treats (sugary treats will only give the kids more energy than they can handle when they're cooped up inside) around the house, along with some little clues to help the kids. Give them a list of what they're looking for and get them searching high and low for treasure. You can even set up rewards based on how much treasure each kid finds.
This interactive game is one of the best ways for kids to get the wiggles out. It's not the cheapest game you can buy for your kids but they will love following the silly instructions given by Hullabaloo's main component, a green voice box.
Chess might be too complicated for younger kids but it's an excellent way to keep most kids entertained. Getting an older kid to teach a younger one how to play can keep them busy all day.
19. Lego building challenge
Most parents these days have a big box of Lego somewhere in the house. Some parents even have their original Lego from childhood. Lego is a great way to get your kids thinking about building and keep them building. Challenge them to see who can build the tallest tower or to work together to build a super tower. Add some rewards for extra fun.
20. The listening game
Grab a bunch of objects and set them out in front of your kids for long enough that they memorize them. Once they've had time to see all the objects get them to close their eyes. Make sounds with each object and get them to guess what each one is. You can turn this into a competition to see who can guess more objects correctly.
21. Spy training day
This activity is sure to be a hit with kids of almost any age. Use a ball of colored yarn to create a web your kids have to find their way through. You can stretch this across as much of the house as you want to and even join in on the fun.
Bad weather days don't have to be unpleasant. Play one or more of these games with your kids or get them playing together next time it rains. You'll be surprised how quickly they take to any challenge you give them.
This post comes from the TODAY Parenting Team community, where all members are welcome to post and discuss parenting solutions. Learn more and join us! Because we're all in this together.