I don’t know about you but I’m counting the days until the weather is sunny and warm. I dream of walking to the park and letting my kids run and play. However, this cold, wet weather makes this dream feel like a distant reality! I wanted to share some activities we’ve been doing to mix things up and keep everyone happy!
1. Take a field trip!
As long as there isn’t snow on the ground, making travel hazardous, we try to get out and about. Head to your local library. In Dayton, we have library cards to 3 different library systems. It is always nice to visit a different place, play with different toys and get some new reading material. Also, check your library services. One of our libraries offers day passes to different area museums such as Carillon Historical Park. So, although we don’t have a membership we can visit this museum free of charge!
We’ve also been taking advantage of reciprocal memberships or discounted admissions. Our Boonshoft membership allows us to visit the Duke Energy Children’s Museum (Cincinnati) for only the cost of parking ($6). We can also go to Cosi, in Columbus, for half price admission. The past few weekends we’ve visited each of these places, as a family, so we can get out of the house, play, and completely change our routine!
2. Do some cooking!
We were fortunate enough to be gifted a subscription to Radish Kids for Christmas by Griffin and Madelyn’s grandparents. The picture recipes are awesome and my kids really enjoy being chefs! The kits include a recipe for a full meal including appetizer, entre, and dessert. So, cooking everything took us some time. Griffin even tried some new foods so the activity really was a win! But, don’t worry if you don’t have fancy picture recipes to follow. Grab a bag of chocolate chips or a box of brownies and bake something! Talk about what you are doing. Measure the ingredients, allow them to stir or pour. But take your time and enjoy the activity.
3. Make some homemade playdough!
Finally have your kitchen cleaned up after cooking? Head back there and make some homemade playdough. My mother-in-law, a retired preschool teacher, shared her favorite playdough recipe with me and we make it all the time. The kids were super excited when I made red and green playdough at Christmas time. On a recent snow day, I made them pink and blue doughs. And just last week we made chocolate playdough which smells delicious. This activity usually lasts for about 45 minutes with my kids. I try to mix it up by giving new/different cookie cutters or allowing them to use real kitchen utensils like little cheese spreaders.
Laura's Play Dough Recipe:
2 cups water and 2 tablespoons oil (add food coloring here if you want)
2 cups flour and 1 cup salt and 4 teaspoons cream of tartar
I add dry ingredients to a medium size pot, then turn on the burner to medium-low heat. Pour in wet ingredients and stir to combine until a big ball of dough forms. Then remove from heat and carefully knead it and allow to cool. Once completely cooled place in airtight container or ziploc bag.
4. Use your bath tub!
If you follow @dayswithgray on Instagram or subscribe to her breakfast invitations she does a lot of activities with sensory bins or mixing colored water. I just can’t trust my guys to not get water everywhere so I’m always reluctant to try a water based bin. However, recently I had the genius idea to allow them to give their babies a bath. I luckily had just put an empty hand soap container in our recycling bin. I grabbed it out of the bin and filled it with water. I gave them some clean wash clothes and a bath tub full of water. They loved it. Sure, my bathroom floor was pretty wet but it probably needed cleaned anyway! The babies are clean, they played, shared soap, and dried their babies off after. It was also super cute listening to them tell their babies what body part they were washing and warn them when they were being rinsed off! And I should mention, we are lucky enough to own two water friendly Cabbage Patch Dolls. No water friendly baby dolls are your house? That’s okay…fill your tub with bubbles. Or grab some bath tub finger paint or crayons next time you are at the store. The mess is contained and they are occupied for at least a little while!
5. Create a theme activity
This suggestion may take a little more planning/preparation but I promise it’ll be worth it. I happen to conduct an enrichment group at a local preschool and had a variety of activities prepared for this group that I was able to utilize with my own kiddos. We read the book “Bear Snores On” by Karma Wilson. We talked about hibernation and did a quick cut and paste activity for story sequencing. Next, we made a bear paper plate craft and used bear cookie cutters in our brown, chocolate playdough.
Take a look around your house or your playroom. See what kind of materials/toys you have that could follow the theme of a book. Keep it simple if you need to- lots of cars and trucks? Read a vehicle themed book and play with them or build a cool ramp. Have a play kitchen? Read the “Very Hungry Caterpillar” and use your play kitchen to prepare some more food for the hungry butterfly.
6. Have a family game night (or game day)!
My oldest, Griffin, has recently been asking to have a lot of game nights. And this used to be very challenging because his younger sister would just throw game pieces everywhere or quickly lose interest. In the past few months she has also started to gain interest in the games which has made life a bit easier. On the first snowy weekend of the winter we had a game “morning” and played all the games we had in the house. Some of our favorites are Zingo, Candyland, Soggy Doggy, Pie Face, and a game from my childhood-Pizza Party! Playing game together is a great way to work on turn taking, encourage patience, practice following rules, etc., etc.!
I hope these suggestions will help you next time you are looking for a way to switch up your routine and cure those winter blues!