Here we go! The cold weather is back, and it’s time to face the winter. If you have a toddler, the worsening weather has taken on a whole new meaning for you. How do we keep these children thriving inside?
The clouds and snow may be daunting, but they can also open a whole new world of imaginative play inside with your toddler. It may stretch our creativity as parents, but once we get the kids going, it’s so much fun to see where their little minds can take them!
Join Twin Cities Kids Club for more discounts, as well as tips and advice for parenting in the Twin Cities. Check out these indoor toddler activities!
1. Sing and Dance
Start With Wardrobe
This idea can start with a trip to the dress-up box or closet. Find the flowiest clothes, and get ready to move! Collect a few handkerchiefs or small scarves for your little one to hold in their hands as they dance. Throw them up in the air and catch them as you spin!
Create a Fun Space Simply
Transform a room with some simple furniture removal, and your child will be very excited about their “new” space to play and dance. Pull a coffee table into another room, or push back the easy chair. Roll up a rug to slide around on the wood floor, or add blankets to the carpet to hop around to the beat.
Find a Kid’s Songs station on your favorite music streaming website, or pull out some CDs, and get dancing! Encourage creative ideas about motions or space use, and have a great time with your toddler.
2. The World of Painter’s Tape
Do you know that blue tape that is nice and sticky, but safe enough to stick on your painted walls? It’s a perfect toy for your toddlers and young children!
Simple Tape Strips
If your child is still quite young, rip off long pieces of tape and stick them places for them to find. Try moving the kitchen chairs away from the table, throw some toys under there to keep them busy, then tape a strip at intervals hanging down from the tabletop. They might yank them all off at once, but they will keep busy seeing what else they can do with the tape once it’s down!
Pull strips of tape across a doorway at several different angles, like a spider’s web. You can make the web tight or leave a hole in the middle as a target. Then find some scrap paper and help your child roll it up into loose balls. Make the spider’s web 2-sided, and retrieve each other’s paper balls as you play.
Build New Roads
Stretch interest in toy cars or trains by helping your kids design a tape road system on the floor. A tape road can stand up to some serious play on a hard floor, but it works on carpet, too! Don’t forget parking lots, and driveways that lead to block, Lego, or doll houses.
3. Chore Games
Having toddler help with chores may not be the fastest way to get them done, we admit. But if at the end of fifteen minutes you have a happy child and a short chore accomplished – win, win!
When you’re ready to clean up the kitchen, fill up one side of the sink for your child when you fill one up for you. Spread an absorbent towel on the counter next to their side, and channel several safe dishes to their dishwashing station. You may want to do this before they change out of their pajamas – they are guaranteed to be wet, but happy!
Tackle a basket of laundry in no time, even if your toddler is by your side.
- Give them a pile of socks to conquer. Hold one up and say, “Where’s its buddy?” Get them started, then take on the other clothes while they finish the pile.
- Work your way through the basket while you keep your child busy “fishing for clothes.” Ask them to find all the shirts, or all the blue clothes, etc. Fold them as they hand them over.
- Play “whose is it?” with each item. Help your toddler place it in the right section of folded clothes for each person.
- Sweep to the beat – turn on some music when it’s time to sweep up, and don’t be afraid to pause from your chore to sing along into your “mic stand.” Hand your child the dustpan, and point to a section of the floor she can clean up while she waits for you to have a pile for her.
- Pull out the vacuum – oh no! It’s a shark! Quick, get all the “swimmers” (toys and things on the carpet) out of the way!
4. Build a Box House
The next time you acquire a large box, break it down and store it flat behind your couch or in your garage. You’ll be so happy you have it when you’ve been stuck inside for a few days!
- Help your child reconstruct the box and cut out a door and windows.
- Hand them some crayons or washable markers and tell them it’s time to decorate!
- Encourage them to “move-in” by bringing a pillow and blanket for a bed, a stool for a table, and whatever else they think will fit.
5. Create the Conditions for Independent Play
It’s wonderful to play inside with your toddler, but don’t be afraid to let them play on their own. Create a space for them near where you spend much of your time – most toddlers will only spend a few minutes playing before they wonder where their grown-up is!
- Consider NOT storing toys out in the open. If a child sees a toy all the time, they start to ignore it.
- Move toys up and out, and plan only to have a few available at a time. If a toy has been out of sight for a few weeks, it has that “new toy” appeal when your child sees it come back.
- Pull down a toy and place it where your child will find it. Avoid trying to give it to them or call their attention to it. They are more likely to be interested if it’s their discovery!
If you want some help figuring out ways to organize your kids toys (and keep them that way) check out these tips.
Winter is Opportunity
Necessity is the mother of invention – and no one understands necessity like a parent keeping a toddler happy on a winter’s day! Each day you are stuck inside is a chance to challenge your creativity. You will be so proud of yourself and your toddler, and discover new things about yourselves that you may never have learned outside.