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:
Destroy 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.
Pretend to be cats. Stuffed animals used the cat carrier, and big sister used laundry baskets as her cage.
Build something – towers, blocks, Magna-Tiles (our new favorite Christmas present). We also love train layouts and race cars in our house.
Make a craft or art project – my kids like using a paper punch and coloring. Sometimes we just keep it simple!
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.
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
Play games! Today we played Candy Land, though UNO-Moo is a big hit with both my two and four year old right now.
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.”
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.
Trying out a sensory bin of oatmeal & cornstarch.
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
Clean House – Let the kids help do dishes with extra soapy dishwater. My kids typically love playing in that.
Dance party– We pop on a kid’s station on Pandora and dance around to burn off some energy.
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!
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!
When I set upon making the Cardboard Kitchen and Cardboard Choo Choo Train, I knew it wasn’t going to be a keep-forever type of toy. I was simply making use of some old cardboard boxes in my basement, hoping that they’d have more value as my kid’s toys instead of in the recycle bin.
Since CARDBOARD happens be a a popular search term on my blog (geez, my writing on other topics must be so thrilling), I thought I’d share a look at these cardboard toys almost one year later.
1 Year Old cardboard kitchen
Brand New: Cardboard Kitchen
1 Year Old cardboard kitchen – side
Even the play kitchen is a mess!
What can I say, it’s been well loved, and a cheap toy for hours of enjoyment for my kids! I have been thinking about pitching it in the recycling bin, but just saw my kids playing with it yesterday. It will be a fixture in our basement for a bit longer it seems.
The Cardboard Train Engine has fared slightly better than the kitchen – a testament to my superior cardboard construction skills. It still has that slight lean to the right in the cab – again a testament to my superior cardboard construction skills.
Finally, the BEST CARDBOARD MASTERPIECE that I found comes from Japanese artist who goes by Upunushu: Matsumoto Castle. Apparently she has been working with cardboard since 5th grade and is now in her twenties. All I can say is WOW! You have to check it out!
Does taking down Christmas decorations leave you blue? I can’t help but feel that way as a “un-deck” the halls at our house. We had a lovely, busy, and festive holiday season full of multiple family gatherings, delicious food – and some tasty leftovers, and many wonderful toys. Now as I take everything down, I can’t get motivated to cram the last few things into the big green storage bin in our basement. Instead it sits on my husband’s already cluttered tool bench (though I’m not getting any complaints there).
Growing up our artificial tree would be up for what seemed like MONTHS after Christmas! My mom once dreamed it was March and the tree was still up. I think she too struggled with putting everything away – something I may have inherited from her! We also had Christmas lights permanently mounted to the main window indoors. All you had to do was flip a switch and cha-ching – instant holiday year-round!
Is putting everything away part of the realization that we’re just going back into our typical, non-festive routine – a long stretch of hibernating during winter and cold without any EXCITING holidays for some time? Shouldn’t I still be feeling the hope and excitement of a New Year? Sigh…I don’t know.
Little by little, everything will find its place, from the Christmas decorations to the newly received toys that are overflowing from toy bins as we speak. I will get re-organized and re-energized at some point.
I already found a few inspiring places for motivation and kid’s organization: