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It’s good for everyone to spend time outdoors – even in the winter! But sometimes, it’s just not feasible (or safe). So, if winter weather has you stuck indoors and you’re looking for something fun to do, we’re here to help. So, whether you’re bored or just feeling creative and adventurous, there’s something for everyone here. Read on for our curated list of fun indoor winter activities – especially for nature lovers!
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Fun indoor activities for kids
Kids can only stay cooped up indoors for so long. Then pent-up energy has them running circles around the house like a whirligig beetle! And, sure, running in circles is a great way to release some vigor! But sometimes, it’s pretty awesome when kids find other ways to keep busy!
To help you help them find fun things to do, scroll through our list of winter indoor activities – you’re sure to find a few your kids will love! In keeping with our outdoor theme, many of these activities are nature-centered.
• Have an indoor scavenger or treasure hunt.
Create a list of items to find indoors (or things to spot outside through the windows). Or make it a treasure hunt, complete with riddles strewn throughout the house. The prize can be a special snack (or two or three).
• Go camping (indoors).
• Create a magazine collage.
It can be themed or not – here are some great ideas.
• Make tissue paper suncatchers.
A little glue, tissue paper, and wax paper can keep kids busy making colorful window decor.
You have what you need if you have mason jars, glitter, and a glue gun!
• Ski indoors on cardboard skis!
Not only does the creation of the skis keep kids occupied, but they’ll love trying to “ski” indoors.
• Build cardboard structures.
Kids can create a house, fort, car, or anything at all with cardboard (and maybe a little duck tape).
• Make a birdfeeder.
No lumber required! Check out this article on ideas for DIY bird feeders made out of oranges, pine cones, milk cartons, and more (kids could make these themselves).
• Paint rocks!
Collecting the rocks ahead of time is half the fun. Here are some creative ideas to get you started.
• Make a birdhouse (or owl house or bat house!).
You could buy a kit or build one from scratch (kids will need an adult to help). Best of all, you can decorate it and hang it outdoors in the spring for the birds to use!
Kids love to see seeds sprout – especially ones they planted themselves. They can also water and nurture the plants as they grow. Older kids might also enjoy the challenge of propagating from existing plants (or even from veggie scraps).
Indoor winter activities for toddlers
• Create a sensory bin.
Toddlers love to explore through touch. In a container, put items with different textures for them to investigate. Include pine cones, leaves, icicles, orange peels, acorns, rocks, feathers, shells, sand, sticks, and more!
• Create “ice ornaments” to hang outdoors.
We love this simple idea – and kids will too.
Bring some snow inside (in a bin) and give the kids some watercolor paint!
• Make homemade playdough.
You can whip up a batch of homemade playdough in just a few minutes, and the kids will stay busy for hours.
• Water fun.
Fill the sink or tub with water and throw in plastic funnels, cups, spray bottles, and other items. Add bubbles as desired.
There are countless online resources with virtual activities for kids. Just do an internet search, and you’ll find thousands of ideas.
You might start with local resources, like parks and rec departments, since they offer many free online resources. If you’re in the Des Moines area (or even if you’re not!), check out some of these sites for some excellent resources and ideas:
- Des Moines Parks and Rec
- Polk County Conservation
- Science Center of Iowa
- Living History Farms
- Iowa Dept. of Cultural Affairs: Goldie’s Kids Club
Entertaining things for adults to do indoors
Winter boredom doesn’t just happen to the kids! When winter seems to drag on forever, and we’re stuck indoors, we adults sometimes need something fun too. So, if you can’t get out to enjoy outdoor winter activities, read on. Below are some ideas for winter indoor activities to keep you busy and entertained!
• Try a new recipe.
I mean, food can be the answer sometimes. It doesn’t necessarily have to be unhealthy! Try a new recipe with different flavors – it’s a fun and tasty way to spend your time indoors.
• Host a get-together.
Host a board game night, potluck, movie night, football Sunday – whatever you want! Gather your family or friends together for a fun time indoors.
• Go camping indoors!
Camping indoors isn’t just for the kids. It’s fun for adults too! So whether you want to disconnect (chill, read, talk, eat, and drink) or practice with new camping gear, why not set it all up in your living room?!
• Learn how to brew your own.
Beer, wine, cider? With the right equipment and ingredients, you can learn to make delicious beverages.
• Rent a cabin.
Here’s a way to get out of the house but still stay warm and cozy indoors. You don’t have to go far for it to feel like a winter getaway.
Build a birdhouse, owl house, bat house, or birdfeeder for the wildlife to enjoy! Find kits online, or build one from scratch.
• Plan a getaway or vacation.
Anticipation is half the fun! Planning your next camping trip, cabin stay, or vacation on a long winter day is a great way to spend your time.
• Knit or crochet or sew.
Even if you don’t know how there are tons of online resources to get you started.
• Have a spa day.
Relax in the bathtub with a good book and glass of wine. Pamper yourself. You can even make your spa supplies.
• Plan local outdoor adventures.
If you’re a nature-lover, you love finding hidden gems around your community. You know, those trails and parks you’ve never visited, but when you do, you wish you’d known about them sooner!? Peruse local resources and Google maps for a list of new places to see when the weather improves.
• Write a thank-you note.
Yes, for real, write it with pen and paper. Not a text or email. The very act of writing a thank you to someone special will lift your spirits (and theirs too).
• Clean out your closet.
It feels good to get organized. And you can donate your used items to a shelter or other non-profit organization.
• Draw, paint, or sculpt (even if you’re not an artist!).
Go wild with your creativity and see what happens. Or follow a tutorial with specific instructions. Just don’t hold back – you aren’t required to share your masterpiece with anyone else.
We recommend checking local online resources for those in the Des Moines area. Below are links to area organizations with virtual activities and resources:
- Des Moines Botanical Center
- Des Moines Art Center
- Travel Iowa’s Visit Virtually: Explore Iowa from Home
- Winter Books: Best Fiction and Non-fiction Books With a Winter Theme
- Winter Books for Kids: Discover the Best Books for Any Age
- Try a Fun Winter Scavenger Hunt to Beat Cabin Fever! [+ free printables]
photo credit: pixabay