I recently spent a few days coming up with this list for 101 things to do with your kids when it’s cold outside.
You know the days. Whether it’s a rainy week in summer, or snowy cold days in winter, there are times when your family just plain gets stuck in the house.
Then the cabin fever sets in. Thankfully this blog post is here to help you with 101—yes 101—things to do with your kids when it’s cold outside, and bonus: you can do them inside with minimal setup.
Don’t worry there are plenty of activities for older kids as well as the younger ones.
There are two rules for this list of things to do with your kids when it’s cold outside:
First, involve your kids as much as possible in the prep work and clean up.
Second, don’t go over the top, “Pinterest Crazy,” unless, of course, you want to. These are meant to be fun for the kids not stressful for mom.
101 Things to Do With Your Kids When It’s Cold Outside (#cabinfever)
1. Watch this video, it will make you laugh, particularly if you like Muppets.
Food Related Activities
2. Make pizza as a family. Set up a bar of toppings and go to town.
3. Watch some YouTube videos and learn how to toss pizza dough together. (It’s impossible with gluten free dough, though.)
4. Make Chex or trail mix with odds and ends from your pantry.
5. Make and decorate cookies, or just decorate store bought cookies.
6. Decorate a cake. All you really need is white frosting (which can be made from just powdered sugar and butter) and something to dye it with. Toys also make great cake decorations.
7. Make S’mores over a candle.
8. Have a family competition for who can come up with the best recipe from the contents of your kitchen. Be sure to set a time limit and have a panel of judges.
Do you have any other suggestions for food-related activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Arts and Crafts
9. Make a costume. Pirates and princesses are always easy after a rummage through Mom’s scarf and jewelry drawers.
10. Give your kids branches, twigs, spare bits of wood, twine, nails etc. and encourage them to create something.
11. Have your kids invent something using a wire coat hanger (if they’re old enough) or Legos.
13. Create art, then hold an art show complete with hor d’oeuvres.
14. Sew a doll quilt.
15. Sew a purse.
16. Use a straw and nontoxic paint to create a work of abstract art.
17. Finger paint. For younger kids, put finger paint inside a ziplock bag and let them blend the colors (for less mess). Be sure to seal the bag with duct tape.
18. Give your child scissors, glue, paper, and a store circular. Tell them to cut out the food pictures and make a restaurant menu.
19. Grab a package of toilet paper and create a fashionable outfit. Save the toilet paper, of course, to be used for it’s intended purpose.
20. Scrapbook, or create a smashbook (the scrapbook’s less perfect cousin).
21. Let your kids fill an empty photo album.
22. Using sticky notes have your kids add captions to family photos. Just be sure they don’t put the sticky note on the photo while writing.
23. Create a puzzle out of a family photograph and cardboard.
Do you have any other suggestions for art and craft activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Things to Do With Pets
25. Make your dog or cat wait in another room and hide a treat for them to find, then watch your critter sniff them out. Treats with a strong smell like bits of hot dogs work very well.
26. Play hide-and-seek with your dog. Have someone hold them in another room or tell them to stay. Go hide then call them. Tip: Your critter will play longer if they’re well rewarded when they find you.
27. Have a pet beauty parlor. Don’t torture the critters, but freshen them up with a bath or even just a wipe down with a baby wipe. Nail polish on dog toe nails is always fun if you’ve got a patient pooch.
28. Dress up your pet in a new handkerchief, fancy collar, or even a vest and take pictures. Teach your kids signs that the animal is growing weary. Dressing up animals should of course only be done to those that are laid back enough to take it, and the clothes chosen shouldn’t be dangerous to them. But let’s be honest: a picture of a dog in sunglasses and a wig is somewhat amusing.
29. Make a cat condo using cardboard boxes. Cats like to explore things that are high off the floor. If you actually want the cat to use it, put it in a corner where the cat can climb up to the top and observe its surroundings. Let the cat discover it on it’s own (lacing it with catnip doesn’t hurt either).
Do you have any other suggestions for pet-related activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Learn a New Skill
30. Learn how to do a magic trick. Self-working card tricks are a great place for kids to start.
31. Learn how to do cat’s cradle or other string games.
32. Learn how to fold some easy origami.
33. Make paper airplanes as a family and hold a competition for whose can fly the furthest, fastest, or can stay in the air the longest.
34. Learn how to juggle, be sure to watch a tutorial so you don’t learn incorrectly. Scarves and dryer sheets work great for beginners because they move slower through the air.
35. Learn how to play the harmonica. This 4-hole harmonica is great for beginners.
Do you have any other suggestions for new skills to learn with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Sensory activities for preschoolers
36. Make Oobleck. Personally I hate oobleck. It’s messy. But no sensory list would be complete without it.
37. Play with water beads.
38. Have a themed bath time.
39. Let your kids play with dyed spaghetti.
Do you have any other suggestions for sensory activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Video cameras or audio recorders are a must for these activities.
40. Have your kids write and record a radio show complete with sound effects.
41. Put on a family fashion show.
42. Reenact a favorite movie in 90 seconds. Do this with a handful of movies or have your kids draw titles out of a hat.
43. Create a stop animation lego movie. Time consuming? Yes. Fun for the Lego nut who wants to become a movie producer? You betcha.
44. Get the kids to put on a play. Fairy tales make a great place to start.
45. Reenact a musical to a soundtrack. (Let it goooo! Let it goooo!)
46. Learn a speech from a favorite movie and perform it with dramatic flair and make shift props, costumes, and sets.
47. Memorize a (clean) comedy bit from YouTube and perform it for the family. I highly recommend anything by Tim Hawkins or Bob Smiley.
48. Hold a lip sync concert.
49. For families who can actually sing, hold a family talent show.
Do you have any other suggestions for performance activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Fun Family Games
52. Have a mystery party.
53. Play Would You Rather. You can buy the game or make up your own scenarios. For instance: Would you rather have eyebrows that constantly move around your forehead like caterpillars or have Darth Vader music play every time you enter a room (consider formal events like weddings and funerals).
54. Put a puzzle together.
Do you have any other suggestions for family-fun game activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
55. Bust out the china and have a tea party. Serve hot chocolate and call every one “Dahling.” Don’t forget to have someone dress up like Carson (Downton Abbey reference).
56. Have a princess and knight themed party. Raid the costume box and then serve chicken drumsticks.
57. Host a pirate party, call the drinks grog and say “Arrr!”
58. Make grass skirts out of crepe paper and leis out of tissue, play ukulele music, and have a Hawaiian luau.
59. Stream some Happy Days episodes and don 50’s apparel; have a sock hop to some Elvis tunes.
60. Serve tacos put up some red, white, and green decorations and have a Mexican party.
61. Serve spaghetti, put up some red, white, and green decorations and have an Italian party.
62. Create the goopiest, weirdest, most brightly colored food you can think of and have a monster themed party. (I’m thinking cute monsters like Mike Wasowski, not zombies.)
Do you have any other suggestions for impromptu party activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Family Olympic Activities
63. Crabwalk race
64. See how many push ups your kids can do in a minute (30 seconds if they’re younger).
66. Jumping jacks in a minute
67. See who can hold their breath the longest.
68. See who can balance on one foot the longest.
69. See who can hop on one foot the longest.
70. Grab a pedometer and see who can walk the most steps in 5 minutes.
71. Have your kids do somersaults and score them.
Do you have any other suggestions for Olympic-type activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside?
72. Make a hover craft with a balloon and a CD.
73. Make water walk.
74. Make a lava lamp.
75. Walk on eggs.
76. Make a snow storm in a jar.
77. Do a science experiment with baking soda.
78. Build with marshmallows and toothpicks.
79. Make fireworks with oil and water.
80. Make a catapult.
Do you have any other suggestions for science activities to do with your kids when it’s cold outside?
Fun With Technology
81. Play a dance game as a family and record everyone!
83. Play music that doesn’t belong to favorite movie scenes. Mute the T.V. and try all sorts of songs. Try funny music with serious scenes, or sappy music with battle scenes. The more extreme you go the funnier it is.
84. Play an app together.
85. Take goofy pictures of each other.
86. Take some normal pictures and make them goofy with photo editing software.
87. Play six degrees of separation on wikipedia.org. You may want to be with your kids if you decide to do this one. Choose two random things, and see if you can connect them using the links in the wikipedia article. Here’s one to get you started: Star Wars (any of the movies) to The Iditarod. It took me four links, try to beat it 😉 I started from the Iditarod and worked backwards.
Do you have any other suggestions for fun with technology to do with your kids when it’s cold outside? Let me know!
Build Some Memories
88. Do that thing, you know the one. That thing your child has been bugging you to do.
89. Ask your kids some questions about their likes and really listen to them.
90. Do something special, something that you know your child will love. Something that let’s them know you “get” them.
Random Fun Things To Do
91. Create a yarn spy obstacle course.
92. Dump all your stuffed animals in a giant pile and jump and play with abandon.
93. Create a scavenger hunt for your kids.
94. Create a treasure hunt for your kids—similar to a scavenger hunt but with a prize at the end.
95. Put all your pillows or a spare mattress in the middle of the floor and let your kids jump.
96. Turn off all the lights and give your kids white gloves. Turn on a black light.
97. Grab binoculars and let your kids bird or animal watch.
98. Redecorate a room with things from other areas of your house. Let your kids have a say in furniture arrangement.
100. Create a city of boxes and destroy like Godzilla. Be sure you record this one.
101. Have your kids follow your cat around with a camera and hope for the next viral cat video.
And there you have it: 101 things to do with your kids when it’s cold outside. Join us on social media with the hashtag #cabinfever and show us what your family is doing.
More Parenting Tips:
- Beyond the Busy: Simplifying Family Life Using Routines
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- Teach Your Kids To Cook Real Food
- 101 Things Your Kids Can Do To Make Money
Follow this Cabin Fever Board for More Ideas!