Banish Boredom This Winter!On Jan 26, 2016 Blog | Raising Arrows 3 Comments Tags: Homeschooling, Mothering, Parenting, Winter
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Although we didn’t get a white Christmas, winter finally arrived in Maine. It’s beautiful and I love it. Outside looks all magical and wonderlandish. Inside there is a toasty fire, copious amounts of tea, and baked goods galore. It’s not without its challenges, though. My big boys are learning the joys of shoveling the driveway and getting outside in the negative temps to tend to the farm animals. My husband is working on the outside of the house wearing about 101 layers of clothing. And I am trying to figure out how to entertain the Littles when it is too cold to send them outside all day. Of course they want to watch TV and we do let them. But, we don’t want to make a crazy habit out of it. Although it may be too late for that. As evidenced by my two year old saying, “Mom, can I watch Wild Kratts all day long? Dad said yes.” Dad most assuredly did not say yes. #honestpostpartum
Of course, every day there are books to read, pages to color, legos and blocks, etc. But sometimes Mom has got to get a little creative. Winter is long and we’ve just gotten started.
So, when the cabin fever sets in here are some fun ideas:
Fill a large plastic container with dry beans, dry popcorn, uncooked rice, lentils, etc. Provide a myriad of things to dump, pour and filter: funnels, ice trays, colanders, old take-out containers, etc. Believe it or not, this provides hours of fun. To make clean-up easier, use a fitted sheet. I placed heavy cans in the corners to hold up the “walls.” A few beans escaped, but mostly it was an easy clean-up.
When we posted this on Instagram a reader wisely cautioned that this could present a choking hazard. If your children are still in the putting-things-in-their-mouth stage, please exercise caution and don’t let them play unsupervised. Or try this variation:
Place a bit of flour in baking pans, provide old wine corks, little cars, spoons, etc. This has days of entertainment value! You can also use cornmeal or salt to change up the textures.
Playing with dough is a great way to strengthen little fingers for the future advantage of good penmanship. The store stuff is pricey, though and it just doesn’t last that long around here. Plus, there are those mystery (possibly toxic ingredients!). We can do better! Here is a basic homemade recipe. Kids love to help make their own playdough, too!
1 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
2 Tablespoons cream of tartar
1 cup water
food coloring, adjusted to your liking
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Mix the dry ingredients together in a medium pot. Add water, food coloring if desired, and oil. Cook and stir over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. This will look horrible and like it could not possibly work. Keep stirring. It will work. When it comes together and forms a ball turn off the heat and turn it out on a lightly floured cutting board. Knead several times (careful this is HOT!). Allow to cool and then it’s ready for play! Store this in an airtight container.
I don’t know about your kids, but mine love to lend a hand in the kitchen. They love to tie on an apron and stir things and knead things and sprinkle things. Let them help choose a recipe from a cookbook and then help them prepare it for their own lunch or snack. (Sweet Little Ones blog has a great post on making mini-pizzas with her kids! Check it out here!)
I am not a fan of a lot of toys, you know the kind that require batteries and maintenance. But these things I love:
Keva Structures. My kids can play with these all day and they are totally indestructible. A bonus is that stepping on a lost one in the middle of the night does not cause any swear words to escape accidentally.
Pattern Blocks. Your kids can explore all kinds of wonderful math and art concepts while playing joyously for hours on end.
- Set up the tent in the living room. Let them eat and play and nap in the tent! All the fun of camping, without the mosquitoes.
- Build a fort with blankets and the furniture. Sure, it will be a mess and drive you crazy. But not as much as a whiny toddler who is bored.
- Tea parties!
- Make cards and write letters to family and friends far away.
- Have a dance party in the living room!
- Snow art. Save old dish soap bottles with good squeeze tops. Fill with water and food coloring. Place in freezer until very cold, but not frozen. Then head outside and draw in the snow!