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What winter activities do your kids enjoy?

Kids are back in school, and what have we learned over winter break? My little ones love to be outside as much as possible, but sometimes freezing temperatures or other factors prevent outside play. What can you do occupy the kids during the winter? Try out these awesome activities with your kids, and you will be sure beat those winter blues!

1. Sledding and good old fashioned playing in the snow

Do you have snow? Is it warm enough outside not to get frostbite? Stuff the kids in coats and snow pants, get outside, and get active! Sledding is a HUGELY popular activity around here, and you don’t have to go far to enjoy it. Do your research. Is there a local sledding hill around? Do Grandma and Grandpa have a small hill on the side of their house that might be perfect for sledding? Make a day of it and drive up to the mountains or to the nearest famous “big hill” in your area.

Don’t have a sled? I highly suggest a nice soft blow up tube like this one, but there are many available. The more you use them the faster they seem to get.

If sledding’s not your thing, build a snowman or make a snow fort. You can pretend to be a lynx or a snowshoe hare and hop around the backyard, make snow angels, or whatever, but get outside. The kids will love it.

2. Check out your local library

Libraries are not just places to be silent and pick out a book. While I myself love simple reading and peace and quiet, the libraries around us have calendars packed with other fun things for kids to do. We go to the libraries in our town as well as the neighboring town and then can pick and choose our favorite things to do.

Most libraries will have story times for different age groups, reading programs, and reading clubs. We love the fact our library also has craft times, completely free, and as a bonus they clean up everything! There are all sorts of other activities as well such as Lego groups, science experiments, Dungeons and Dragons, computer classes, and more.  You might even find a momma support group you like, a painting group, or a gardening class for adults.

At the library? No way you say! Yes way. Libraries are changing. Therefore, support them and learn something new.

3. Christmas thank you cards or I appreciate you cards

There are probably a bunch of new toys around the house from Christmas. Possibly so many you’ve not even really used them all yet. Encourage thankfulness, appreciation, and manners, and have the kids write thank you cards to friends and family.

First, set out some construction paper, scissors, glue, and markers or sparkly pens. Then have the kids create the cards, write a personal message (possibly with help), and mail them out. My daughter addressed her own this year, and we talked all about where to put each address, how the post office works, and why you need a stamp not just a sticker if you’re actually going to put it in the mail.

If you have smaller kids or want something quicker, use note cards or try out this free printable you can use like a post card.

Christmas thank you cards

If you don’t celebrate Christmas or don’t do gifts, pick three people who are special to your kids and have them write “why I appreciate you” cards.  Family members love to get these in the mail or in person with a hug!

4. Ice Skating

Play on the winter theme and find your closest ice rink. Most rinks have a family free skate with skates to rent, helmets, and even buckets to overturn and aid beginning skaters. Outdoor shopping malls and city old towns also have temporary skating rinks set up with all sorts of winter decorations, hot chocolate vendors, and more!
I have great memories of ice skating as a kid and then watching the beautiful figure skating on the Olympics.  Warning, however! I wouldn’t advise attempting a triple flip, fast spins, or even a double Lutz on your local pond. I’ve seen a few dads experiment with such moves with rather disastrous results. So be safe and have fun!

5. Origami paper folding

Stuck in the house with a few hours on your hands? Try some origami folding. There are tons of tutorials on YouTube or if you Google “Origami Shark” for example. You can buy origami paper such as this for best results or use whatever colorful computer paper you have around.

Older kids can do this on their own with a little help now and then, but even 3-5 year olds enjoy it with a little more assistance. We have spent hours in fascination as the little figure comes together.

6.  Local museums

I am a huge history buff so love to check out any local museums. This is a convenient winter indoor activity, and even if you don’t have a large nature and science museum in your city, do a search or ask around. We have a fabulous model train museum in town my son can spend hours exploring. Or maybe you have a state history museum, a dinosaur resource center, or a children’s museum.

Find out if they have a free day to visit or any special themed activities going on before you go. There are often exciting activities right under your nose; you just have to pay attention. It’s always good to support your local community.

7. Culture days

Pick out a local restaurant that is not traditional American. Find an Indian, Japanese, or Italian restaurant and plan to go there for a meal. Before you go, talk to your kids. Where do people eat this kind of food? Locate India, for example, on the map and do some basic research (you may have to narrow it down to a specific region in the country).

Where is this country on a map?
What kind of music do the people listen to there?

Do they have any traditional dances?
What do people do for a living?

What is the typical school day like for a child your age?

Where might they live and with who? With their parents, grandparents, extended family, etc.

What language do they speak? (Practice how to say hello, good-bye, and thank you in the other language)

All sorts of good conversation with kids can come about with these simple questions, along with a little searching on the internet. You can make posters, do presentations, or keep it simple. Talk about traditions, perhaps even those of your own ancestors from another country. Celebrate the beauty of our differences and stress how important it is to learn about and respect other people.

If you want to explore a specific country and don’t have that type of restaurant nearby, make your own meal. Say, “Today we will be French!”  Pick your recipes, make a shopping list, and try something new.

Bon appétit!

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