If you’re like many families, cold winter weather may keep you from enjoying the outdoor world. Cooped up inside, cold rain and sleet limit usual activities for parents and young children.
The next time the youngsters complain, “I’m bored — there’s nothing to do,” try these simple and inexpensive or no-cost ideas.
They’re guaranteed to create interest and bring the smiles back during the winter doldrums. Use this time of family togetherness to teach children to thank God for His many blessings.
- Draw the outline of a house (divide into rooms) on a large piece of poster board. Provide catalogs and magazines showing furniture, pets and people. Guide young children to cut pictures and paste them in the appropriate rooms of the house. What pet would they choose to live in their house? Write a caption on the poster that reads, “God bless our home.”
Say: Thank you God for our home.
- Cover the kitchen table and surrounding floor with large towels or newspapers. Provide small tubs of water and mild liquid bath soap. Encourage children to give their dolls a bubble bath and wash the doll clothes. Place clothes in a dryer after washing. Or, use a sink sprayer as a car wash for toy automobiles. As you interact with your children talk about how God wants families to have fun together.
Say: Thank you God for our family.
- Provide a roll of inexpensive foil for each child. Ask, “Can you create an original design from this source?” Whatever the child designs, offer praise for participation. To get children started, suggest an animal, flower or a toy.
Say: Thank you God for hands that work.
- Keep a “Special Days Bag” for unexpected events, such as a sick day, days when school is out from harsh winter weather or a car trip. In this bag place small puzzle books, crayons, coloring books, card games, small boxes of dried fruit and other things your child might enjoy.
Only use this bag on occasions that require something different for entertainment.
Say: Thank you God for surprises.
- Play “Hide the Pennies” by placing 20 pennies in the house. Hiding places should reflect the age of the child. When all the pennies are found, give a small reward or take a break and have a healthy snack, such as apple slices, milk or fruit juice.
Say: Thank you God for time to spend together.
- Save that long cardboard tube left from Christmas wrapping paper. Use as a mallet and add a Nerf ball to play indoor golf. Make a net and see how many can hit the ball into the net.
Say: Thank you God for strong bodies that like to play.
- Build towers and structures with cardboard boxes. Collect an assortment of sizes and shapes. Is there an appliance box available? This makes a great place for taking books, a blanket and flashlight for looking at picture books. Add a friend for even more fun.
Say: Thank you God for simple things of life … like boxes.
- If the weather outside is dreary, pack a picnic lunch for inside. Throw a blanket on the floor, add colorful plastic or paper plates in a picnic basket and have your meal in another room of the house. Perhaps your house has a large window that provides an open view.
Recall a summer memory your family enjoyed.
Say: Thank you God for helping us have good memories together as a family.
- Feed the wildlife in your yard this winter. With ice and snow, songbirds and squirrels must search for food. Purchase “chicken scratch” (a mixture of seeds) in bulk from a feed store. Place in a metal can with a tight-fitting top to keep other animals out. Do you see any songbirds flittering around? Are squirrels scampering about the trees or ground looking for food? Using a book on birds, learn to identify those that visit your yard. Check YouTube to identify the song that each bird sings. Talk to your children about how God provides for His creatures.
Say: Thank you God for eyes that see.
Time in the kitchen
- Spending time in the kitchen is one of the pleasures of being with your family. Talk about concept words, such as measuring, stirring, sifting, rolling … and, of course, tasting. Praise children for learning new skills and for working together.
Say: Thank you God for hands that work with others.
Use the cold days of winter to draw you closer as a family. Thank God for His blessings.
Woman’s Missionary Union has put together “Bible Thoughts for Concept Area” that help younger children learn biblical concepts from verses. Here are some examples:
- All that the Bible says is from God (2 Tim. 3:16).
- I will sing to God (Ex. 15:1).
- God made me (Ps. 139:14).
- Jesus went to church (Luke 4:16).