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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Childproof Christmas Decor & Crafts

As I hung up the quilt-scrap Christmas tree craft this year, I thought I’d share some of last year’s Christmas crafts. Enjoy!

go mama o

As I decorated this Christmas, I broke out the same Scrap Fabric Tree that is now 2 years old! It’s hard to believe it survived a few holidays and being in storage. These were some easy crafts to make with little kids.  Enjoy!

At 15 months old, my son is just at that age where we really need to watch him to make sure he doesn’t get into something he shouldn’t.  He really is quite good, but we had a few incidents with him pulling down our Christmas stockings (and holders) that were placed on a bookshelf, where he routinely will pull books off of the shelf to “read.” This led me to re-do some of our Christmas decorating to make it more childproof.  First and foremost, I moved the stockings up to higher ground.

Second, I created a kid-friendly tree out of felt. I probably spent less than $4…

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5 Ways to Beat Cabin Fever

It snowed again last night, and there’s MORE snow in the extended forecast with temps not exceeding the 30’s for some time.  Ugh…it’s hard to get excited for Easter and Spring when you’re still sporting snugly sweaters.  I am TRYING to beat cabin fever with these few things:

1. Bright, Colorful flowers now grace my header image.  I received these for our anniversary and they are the same colors as I had in my bridal bouquet. These are my happy colors!

2. Having an indoor picnic We had a blast eating lunch on a blanket in our basement.  Just changing the location of a meal can shake things up a bit and be a lot of fun.

Little brother and big sister enjoy an indoor picnic

Little brother and big sister enjoy an indoor picnic

3. Making 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.  Pom pons are also great for crafts, as I used them in the Quick and Easy Easter Bunnies we just made.

Big sister picking up pom poms

Big sister picking up pom poms

4. 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.

5. Take a road trip.  You don’t have to go far to discover something new and fun.  We’ll soon be heading to a B&B to enjoy some kid-free time.  We did enjoy a little road trip to discover some mouth-watering Wisconsin Cheddar. We’ve also played “tourist” by checking out a fish fry at a restaurant we’ve never gone to before and having lunch at a cute little coffee shop today.  Getting out in spite of the cold is our way of thumbing our nose at Mother Nature.

My daughter just commented today that she could see the grass (in SOME places), and she’s right, Spring WILL come soon.  Until then, we’ll come up with more ways to beat cabin fever.

Another Cardboard Creation: Cardboard Little Bears’ Home

As a way to beat the winter blues indoors, and up-cycle at least one diaper box into something fun, I created a little house for my daughter’s stuffed animals.  She is obsessed with animals, mostly from watching Dora and Diego shows, so this box became a perfect little home.

Instructions

1. Use a utility knife or box cutter to cut a door and a few windows.

2. Tape the roof together using additional cardboard pieces (if necessary). Clear packing tape or duct tape seem to work well.

3. To cover the house, cut apart a large brown paper bag and fit to size.  I used the bottom of the bag to create the roof’s shingles.

4. Use markers or crayons to decorate.

This was a really easy project that probably took less than 45 minutes to do.  Have fun!

cardboard house

Little bears’ cardboard home

Little bears hideout - side view

Little bears’ home – side view

Other Successful Cardboard Projects

Cardboard Kitchen

Cardboard Choo Choo Train