This post is going to be a fun one, but also a very useful one. Inspired by my oldest daughter, she suggested giving parents ideas as to what games or activities kids can play in the Winter.
If you are a parent or grandparent you know what it’s like to sit inside with bored younger children. Being a northerner, this is a nightmare as our Winters are VERY LONG. You need to have a plan of action before the kids hit the point of no return or you’re so exhausted that you can’t wait for bedtime to come.
The first step, in this lifesaver, is to have a plan of action. Without that you are doomed! Next, put your plan of action into place before the crucial point. Finally, do not give your kids extra sugar. I don’t care how many games and activities you have planned, if they just received a double dose of You Hoo then I have little sympathy for the end result of you getting a haircut. Not because you had this amazing time at the hairdresser or barber, but because you have lost it by pulling it out or stress.
We’ve covered the basics and high points and now let’s get those inside activities and game ideas listed. Oh, and I’ve listed ones where you as the parent or grandparent don’t have to participate unless 1. You have one child and some of the activities take two people. 2. The children don’t know how to play the game. 3. You want to participate.
- Puzzles (for older children who don’t chew the pieces up).
- Multiple card games such as crazy eights, go-fish, slap-jack and dutch blitz.
- Coloring for quiet time.
- Cars (miniature hot wheels).
- Army guys or action figures.
- My Little Ponies
- Calico Critters
Now I know there are a ton more, but the ones I have listed are simple, easy and once they know how to play them you will have a little more freedom. Starting with the top and going down the line I will give a brief description of the activity or game and the best time to use it.
A game for all ages and an immense amount of fun for anyone. Kids and teens get the giggles as they bend and twist to place their limbs on the colored circle that the dial spinner stops at. A great game to play when your kids have high energy.
Is a board game and as long as the child can count and at least one of the players can read this game can be played with a variety of ages. The object of the game is to get all your colored pieces in the home base and you win. It can get a little long for younger children, so I set a timer and the person with the most colored pieces in a base wins at that point.
Puzzles are a go-to activity for our family, especially around holiday times. The beauty of a puzzle is you can choose the difficulty depending on the age of the child. Beware not to pick puzzles that have an all blue sky, half of it is water, etc. This will only make your child or yourself frustrated. Pick instead puzzles that have lots of dynamics and groupings of color, and objects. As I said above, you need to keep puzzles out of the hands of small children who still chew anything in sight.
Are so easy for any age. Start with slap-jack for the youngest of ages and work your way up to crazy eights, go-fish, and when your child is about six pull out Dutch Blitz. This card game is amazing not only for kids but for teens through adults. Trust me, once you play you will be hooked. This game is also a great one when your kids have high energy.
Checkers really don’t need explaining. Kids can play this at a very young age. All they need is some direction and practice to get them going.
Chess is more complicated than checkers but is great for strategy and getting young minds to do some critical thinking.
Everyone needs a quiet time or quiet activity. Different games can hype kids up, so it’s a good idea to have an activity such as coloring planned where they can wind down after an active game but still be engaged in something.
My little brother spent most of his childhood playing with the little hot wheel cars. They are great for the imagination because a child can create towns made from cereal boxes or build roads using other toys. He also knew the make and model of each miniature adding to the knowledge of cars, trucks, and any other vehicle he had. They are also hard to break, so last a lifetime.
Army Guys or Action Figures
For little boys, this is a huge one. My son spends hours setting up and reliving battles he’s read about in history. On his own, and in his room, he has created masterpieces with his army guys. Talk about a passion for something. At times using different action figures in the mix, such as pirates or superheroes. Every child is different and if you can find that one thing they love then I would suggest adding to that particular collection instead of randomly going out and picking a new game. Action figures are a good group activity or when a child needs alone time away from siblings.
These bring me back to my childhood. I didn’t need to be entertained or have a friend over when I had my ponies. Granted they were different when I was a kid, but my daughters still enjoy them to this day. Adding to my old collection with some new ones they have had great fun and usually pull them out in the winter when they can’t go outside. They are safe for the youngest of ages, which is nice for mothers with young kids.
Another type of action figure, but for girls. You can dress them, brush their hair, twirl them around and imagine what princess they are. Girls have loved these for years and will continue to in the future.
These adorable little critters are so fun and come in such a variety of animals, tree houses, cars, and other items that go along with them. Kids from an early age to teens can enjoy these. Also, a good quiet time activity.
Books are a classic item that every child, teen, and adult enjoy. They are great because you can pick them up at the library, saving money. Also by rotating you always have new books for your child to choose from.
Puppets come in many different forms. You have finger puppets, hand puppets, and ones your child can dance around on a string. My youngest daughter has played with her puppet on a string every day this Winter. Remember, it doesn’t have to be big, loud, or expensive for your child to enjoy something. Sometimes keeping it simple will actually help your child focus more and not throw tantrums.
Risk is a board game for older children. A game of strategy, war, and battles, this game can last hours or days. Once your child learns the rules then it is a hands-free game for parents or grandparents.
With this list, you will now have 15 go to games and activities. Part of the strategy is to rotate these and not have them all available at the same time. Pull out a few activities or games one week, and then pack them away in a container and bring out a few more. By rotating it not only keeps the toys new but also helps your child from having too many options. Too many options at a young age will actually stress kids out. Keep it simple, new and you and your kids will be happier.
Note: There are exceptions when it’s a favorite toy. If it’s something your child or teen enjoys daily, then you don’t want to take it away. The point is for your kids to be engaged without ripping the house apart or screaming. Also, did you notice I didn’t mention electronics? There is a reason for that. Children who have been subject to too much screen time at an early age have problems with brain development. This article Brain development in younger children is written by a doctor and points out why early screen time for children is bad.