11 TV-Free Activities for the Winter

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11 TV-Free Activities for the Winter
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Fight the inclination to let cold weather keep your family in front of a screen this winter. Instead of long hours logged onto the computer or a full day of video games, make this winter memorable. Creative pastimes don’t have to include a lot of planning, either. Fun activities, both outdoors and in, will keep kids engaged and healthy. These activities encourage family bonding and are completely weatherproof.

Not Just For Summer
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Not Just For Summer

Picnics aren’t exclusively reserved for sunny days. Move the fun inside with an indoor picnic. Have the kids help make their sandwiches and pack a basket with lemonade and colorful fruit. Spread out a checkered blanket and play charades or make bird feeders out of pine cones. You can also make it a teddy bear picnic and invite furry friends to join.

Outdoor Scavenger Hunt
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Outdoor Scavenger Hunt

Even if it’s chilly outside, there are still opportunities to enjoy nature in the winter. Bundle up and head out to the local park (or even your own backyard) to explore the outdoors and get some fresh air. Give the kiddos a list of what to hunt for, including a pine cone, a brown bird, a squirrel, and icicles. You can even take pictures of what you found and put together a photo album later.

Adapted from the Being at Home by Nature blog

Ready for a Close Up
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Ready for a Close Up

For an entertaining and memorable day indoors, have the kids channel their inner superstars with a fashion photo shoot. Let them get all dolled up and grab props at the local dollar store, like a feather boa or a small toy. Make a “runway” with a folded blanket or tape wrapping paper to the wall for a backdrop. Put on some upbeat music, let them pose, and snap away.

Snow Art
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Snow Art

If painting indoors is becoming too messy or tiresome, it’s time to take the creativity outside. Use empty and clean spray bottles, water, and food dye to turn ordinary snow into a beautiful masterpiece. Fill bottles two thirds of the way with water, and add a few drops of food dye in the kids' favorite colors. For brighter colors, add more drops of food dye until the desired color is achieved. Then head outdoors and make colorful snow sculptures of animals or paint pictures in the snow.

Sing Your Heart Out
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Sing Your Heart Out

Stuck inside? Directing and starring in a music video is an indoor activity that can help kids use their creativity and decision-making skills. Let them decide which song they would like to sing and dance to, then pick out costumes. Make a microphone out of a toilet paper roll and a ping pong ball, and let them decorate it. After filming is complete, use a free editing software like WeVideo to add special effects. Invite family, neighbors, and friends over to premiere the finished product.

Have a Traditional Outdoor Adventure
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Have a Traditional Outdoor Adventure

Head outdoors and go back to the basics with timeless activities like sledding, ice skating and tubing. Find an indoor or outdoor ice rink or enroll the kids in skating lessons. Many rinks even offer drop-in lessons. If you live in a snowy region, bring sleds of all shapes and sizes to a local sledding hill. Hold a race to determine which is the fastest. Or, find a tubing hill and rent a huge tube to enjoy the ride together. Don’t forget to bring some hot chocolate in a tumbler to stay warm.

Make a Calendar for New Years
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Make a Calendar for New Years

Creating crafts indoors is a fun way to fill the day when it’s too cold to step outside. By making their own calendars for the new year, kids can learn about time and the seasons. Use a premade template with days already printed on each month. For a hands-on lesson, let the kids arrange the months in order. Draw, paint, and use stickers to create a picture for each month. After January 1st, display their creations year-round.

Mission Mittens
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Mission Mittens

This spin on hide and seek is appropriate for any winter weather because it can be played outdoors or inside. To play, start with a few pairs of mittens and tell the kids to close their eyes. Hide single mittens around the backyard or throughout the house, making sure to separate pairs. On your word, the kids can open their eyes and seek out the mittens. Have a friendly competition to see who can match a pair first.

Adapted from Little Family Fun

Getaway for a Day
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Getaway for a Day

Have a vacation right in your own home with an indoor beach day. Even in the dead of winter, you can enjoy the thrills of summer. Spread out towels and fill a bucket or plastic storage bin with sand and shells from a craft store to build sandcastles. To get the kids moving, put on beach music, go "snorkeling" in a sea of blankets, have a hula hoop competition or use an inflatable beach ball to toss around. Serve hot dogs from the oven and wear your swimsuits to really swap the season for a day.

Science Lesson in the Snow
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Science Lesson in the Snow

Kids can learn about the weather process and uniqueness of snowflakes by studying them. If snow is falling, go outside and bring a dark piece of cloth. Give everyone a magnifying glass to study the snowflakes and learn how each one is different. Ask about the shapes and sizes, and show them how snowflakes melt with heat and transform into water. Once it’s time to go inside, heat up with cocoa and make snowflakes out of paper or ask them to draw some of the snowflakes they found earlier.

Adapted from How the Sun Rose

Kitchen Band
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Kitchen Band

You’ve heard of a garage band, but what about jamming out in the kitchen this winter? You don’t need specialized toys to let your kids explore music. Using simple utensils you already own, allow the kids to create their own instrument ensemble. Use pots and pans for drums, canisters for cymbals, and serving spoons for drumsticks. The opposite of zoning out in front of a screen, an indoor concert encourages mental engagement. Creating music and rhythm enables kids to recognize patterns and relationships, and listening to the variety of sounds each “instrument” makes develops attention to detail and stimulates curiosity.

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