Winter in Texas is really just an extension of fall. Sometimes we even get a throwback to spring and break out shorts and flip-flops. Our snow storms are more like sleet storms, but our winters still bring bitter cold temperatures and cabin fever. To keep my twin toddlers entertained and everyone’s spirits up, I’ve come up with simple, easy to implement activities we all enjoy using things we already have at home in case a trip to the store isn’t possible. Here are seven ideas (one for each day of the week) to try the next time your family is snowed (or iced) in. These ideas are best for toddlers, but can be modified for older children as needed. Let everyone get in on the fun!
7 Indoor Activities When Cold Weather Hits
1. Play with dough.
Hearing the words play and dough in the same sentence strikes fear in the hearts of parents of toddlers. There are plenty of things we would rather do than clean up the aftermath of a play dough palooza, but it beats cleaning up a nasty blow out or reminding your toddlers to use nice hands, again. If you’re worried about clean up, try this activity in the bathtub. Make a quick and easy edible dough using flour, salt, water, and oil. I prefer to use olive or coconut oil simply because we usually have these on hand. Coconut oil adds another sensory element. My twins love the smell. Here’s the recipe:
-1 tbsp oil (whatever you have on hand)
-2 cups flour
-1 cup salt
-3-4 tbsps water until desired texture
-Food coloring or vanilla extract (optional)
- Mix ingredients in a bowl with your hands until a dough forms.
- Add extra flour as needed if the dough is too sticky until you achieve the desired consistency. Don’t expect a similar consistency to store bought play dough.
- You can also add food coloring, spices, or vanilla extract. This recipe will last for about a week.
- Store the dough in a tightly sealed storage container. No need to refrigerate.
2. Applesauce Names.
While you’re getting messy with the play dough, you might as well get messier. Grab those applesauce pouches sitting in the pantry and a few tubes of food coloring. Let each twin pick several colors of applesauce to make then drop a few spoonfuls right onto the kitchen table or onto a high chair tray. Spread the applesauce around then use your index finger to write each twin’s name. Let them go wild mixing the different colors and exploring the texture of the applesauce. This activity is great for developing fine motor skills and to teach color and name recognition.
3. Make a chalkboard wall.
If you’re stuck inside and have access to chalkboard paint you can have a chalk wall painted and dry in one night. Our chalkboard wall is one of my favorite things in our house. It has been a lifesaver when I need a few minutes to fold laundry without “helpers” or just take a few sips of my coffee in peace. Maybe DIY projects are not your thing? Construction paper to the rescue! Use dark blue or black paper plus white or pastel chalk to make snowy scenes or just let them practice making lines and circles. My twins like for me to draw a snowman for them then they scribble over it to make their own art. Go with their flow.
4. Play with snow or ice in the bathtub.
It’s no fun to have to tell your little ones they can’t go outside. If your littles long to play with snow or ice, but going out is just not feasible, try playing with snow or ice indoors. Grab a bowl or plastic tub and scoop up some snow. Let your toddlers experiment with playing with snow in the bathtub. Give them a few spoons or other kitchen utensils to scoop or stir the snow with. They can find out what happens when it melts. Better yet, use food coloring to dye the snow different colors. They can discover what happens when they mix different colors.
If there’s no sign of snow near you, you can use ice cubes instead. Freeze various colors of water in an ice cube tray with popsicle sticks. Let your toddlers use the ice to “paint” the bathtub or watch what happens when the colors begin to melt and mix. My twins love this activity so much they could do it all day without getting bored.
5. Use old crayons for crayon science.
Your twins will love using old crayon pieces to make new ones with this “experiment”. You’ll need old crayon pieces in various colors, a muffin tin or silicon baking mold, and an oven. Heat your oven to 200° and bake the crayon pieces in a mold for 10-15 minutes until melted. Watch as the colors combine to make a new shape. Cool completely then enjoy “new” crayons.
6. Dig like a paleontologist — using Jell-O!
One of our favorite indoor activities is digging for toys or objects hidden in Jell-O. My dino enthusiasts love to dig out all the toys I’ve hidden for them. Making a Jell-O dig is easy. You’ll need two packets of instant Jell-O mix, two plastic tubs or bowls, and digging “tools” such as spoons. Prepare the Jell-O using the instructions on the package. Pour the mixture over several small toys, cookie cutters, or other Jell-O proof objects. Place in the refrigerator until the Jell-O is set. Dig in! Let your twins dig with their hands to free the objects and taste the Jell-O as they dig.
7. Build diaper box forts.
My twins love getting our shipment of Pampers from Amazon Prime. They know when we get a new shipment it means they get to play with the boxes. Diaper boxes make perfect forts. We use stickers and crayons to decorate them. Add blankets your twins can “hide” under and you’re all set. Hours of indoor fun for free.
When you’re stuck inside with two toddlers you have to get creative. Think outside the box. Use household objects in new ways. Children really don’t need a lot of toys or complicated activities to have fun. Put on a pot of coffee and relax. Cabin fever will pass and you may even end up having a blast.
Melissa Titus taught Kindergarten and 2nd grade in the public school system for ten years. She is taking a break from the education field to begin her new adventure as a SAHM to her boy/girl twins born in July 2016. When she’s not spending time with her husband or taking care of her twins, she loves to write, bake using her great grandmother’s recipes, support others still in the midst of infertility, and explore the great outdoors while attempting to photograph it. You can follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.