Surviving the Polar Vortex: 15 Inside Activities for Kids

Living in Wisconsin we are no strangers to bitter winter cold that keeps us homebound. With -50 degree wind chill earlier this month, this winter has been especially brutal.

How do we survive a polar vortex while stuck inside with our two energetic kids, ages two and four?

We get creative and invent activities!  Here are some of our favorites:

  1. Indoor fun activitiesDestroy the couch to play ship, train, or airplane.Half the fun is bringing toys and food aboard, and using play tools to “fix” the vehicle. This is also a good way to go through toys and rotate them, so the kids don’t get bored.
  2. Pretend to be cats. Stuffed animals used the cat carrier, and big sister used laundry baskets as her cage.
  3. Build something – towers, blocks, Magna-Tiles (our new favorite Christmas present). We also love train layouts and race cars in our house.
  4. Make a craft or art project – my kids like using a paper punch and coloring.  Sometimes we just keep it simple!
  5. Make necklaces and jewelry – this bead set is adorable from B. Pop-Arty Beads, and keeps me and my four year old entertained! I dump them into the now dry water table to keep from losing them.
  6. Have an indoor picnic – we get out a blanket and eat in front of the TV.

    Little brother and big sister enjoy an indoor picnic

    Little brother and big sister enjoy an indoor picnic

  7. Play games! Today we played Candy Land, though UNO-Moo is a big hit with both my two and four year old right now.
  8. Pretend it’s a holiday – I recently broke out the trick-or-treat pumpkins, and the kids played trick-or-treat inside, fortunately using blocks as “candy.”
  9. Try a new activity – we tested out a sensory bin activity, using oatmeal and cornstarch with a variety of spoons, funnels, and containers.  It started out in a bin on a small table and then we moved it to a big drop cloth on the floor.  I would not recommend adding the cornstarch, as it went EVERYWHERE!  I took this picture as the excitement of the sensory bin wore off.

    sensory bin play

    Trying out a sensory bin of oatmeal & cornstarch.

  10. Make up games  We play with pom pons all the time in our house!  You can sort them by size or color, practice counting, pretend they’re eggs (as you see here) or some other food item.

    Big sister picking up pom poms

    Big sister picking up pom poms

  11. Clean House – Let the kids help do dishes with extra soapy dishwater.  My kids typically love playing in that.happy doing the dishes
  12. Get baking – The only time I enjoy baking is in the winter. I let my kids help measure amounts and mix.  I highly recommend this chocolate chip cookie recipe from Melissa at Motherhood is an Art.
  13. Dance party – We pop on a kid’s station on Pandora and dance around to burn off some energy.
  14. Reminisce – Today we took some time to look at each kid’s scrapbook. I think we all enjoyed looking back at the past four years together – how life has changed, and how blessed we are as a family!
  15. Nap – I think we were all a bit exhausted from jumping from one activity to the next to suit shorter attention spans, so we snuggled up and read some stories before laying down this afternoon when little brother takes his nap.

What are your favorite indoor activities? How are you keeping yourself or kids busy? Stay warm everyone!

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