Ten icky-weather activities for kids

Here are some creative ideas for keeping the young people in your life active and entertained this winter!

1.   Run an errand

Kids love to be helpful! Perhaps they can return a borrowed item to a neighbor. Or call an aunt or grandpa to deliver a message. Younger children can collect autumn leaves or pinecones for the dining table. Make sure kids are dressed properly for the weather, and that the errand is safe and appropriate for the children’s ages.

2.   Play with homemade clay

Kids love to shape things with this old-fashioned, homemade clay! We found this recipe on MarthaStewart.com. Note: For ages 18 months and older. And no eating! The clay has lots of salt.

Rainy Day Clay

For each color, you’ll need:

1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 teaspoons cream of tartar (in the spices section)
1 teaspoon cooking oil
1 cup water
Food coloring

Mix dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add wet ingredients. Turn on medium heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until mixture pulls away from sides of pan. Remove from heat, and let cool a couple minutes. On a work surface, knead until smooth. Store in an airtight container; it will keep for several weeks.

3.   Go on a spending spree

Find a local dollar store, supply each child with $1 or $2 and give them 30 minutes to choose something. You could add some creative parameters, such as they must select one item to donate to charity or that each item must come from a different section in the store (children, kitchen, etc.)

4.   Visit the library

For a quieter outing, visit your local library. Call or look online to see if there’s a story hour for younger children. Your kids can select a movie to watch that evening, or you can help them explore a topic of recent interest—from archery and geology, to sewing, dog training and tree forts! Once a child is old enough, be sure they apply for their own library card. Also, introduce your child to the librarian and talk about how the librarian can help them.

5.   Fold some origami animals

Even young children can enjoy this ancient art of paper folding. They can shape hats, animals and other objects with simple folds. Packages of origami paper may be sold at bookstores, drugstores or toy stores—and books can be found at the library (see #4).

6.   Have a picnic inside

Ask your child to help you prepare a snack or lunch—carrot sticks, jam sandwich, peanut butter crackers, a couple cookies and a small bottle of water are perfect! Then lay out a blanket or towel near a window. Don’t forget plastic cups, napkins and silverware. If a friend isn’t available, ask your child to invite a favorite stuffed animal or two to join in the fun.

7.   Have a picnic outside

If it’s dry out, why not take snack time outdoors? Keep it simple—a thermos of hot cocoa, a sack of crackers and some nuts or raisins will be perfect. Ask your child to find a park bench, tree stump, big rock or other good “table” for your meal.

8.   Build a fort

Children are fascinated by small spaces that they can crawl into. With a few “building supplies” such as light blankets or sheets, big cardboard boxes, pillows, and a heavy chair, couch or table, children can amuse themselves for hours! Once a structure is ready, it may be the perfect place for a nap, reading a book or a snack.

9.   Try something new at your local community center

Check out your city’s programs for children. Many neighborhood centers offer both active and quiet activities: sports, games, crafts and other explorations. It’s a great way for kids to meet new friends and discover new activities.

10.   Make paper snowflakes

This easy and engaging project requires just paper and scissors. Scrap paper works fine! Show children how to fold a square or round piece of paper three of four times to create a triangular wedge. Then cut small diamonds, hearts or other shapes into the folds. Also cut the end into a decorative shape. Unfold to find snowflake! These look great taped to windows. (You can find demos and examples online.)

A similar project is to fold the paper into accordion pleats and cut out linked paper dolls that are holding hands!