10 ways to stave off snowy cabin fever

by Whitney on February 16, 2011

Too cold to go out? In some of your homes, that’s hardly true, but you’ll still find some fun diversions below. For others, the novelty of frozen precipitation has long worn off, even for the kids. Perhaps a little re-branding is in order.

  • Art Snow! Fill a few large containers (like a stockpot or storage bin) with snow and move to the bath for sculpting. Warm hands are able to manipulate the snow into more intricate creations than those typically built outside. We’ve had fun making miniature igloos and joining sticks with snowball joints. Take it further: Precede or follow with a discussion about Andy Goldsworthy.

  • Science Snow! Channel Mister Wizard by filling droppers or syringes with colored water and squirting over ice. Watch yellow and blue make green, red and blue make purple, etc. Then add a little salt to the water, douse the ice, and observe.

Or maybe you’d rather ignore the snow altogether.

  • You’ve got mail. Write letters, draw pictures and stuff envelopes (my toddler’s favorite part). Pen real notes to long-distance friends and family, or pass parent-child love notes. If the latter, use stickers for stamps, and make the most of annoying magazine inserts with this idea from Sofia’s Ideas.
  • Bang! Bang! Bang! Transfer some energy with a hammer and nails (or golf tees). Pound into something destined for the recycling bin. Polystyrene sheets are great for this activity; rescue them for reuse, then responsible recycling.

  • Man the fort. Throw an old sheet over a table and let the kids loose with markers (fabric markers if you’ve got ‘em). Big kids can draw windows, doors, and flowers, little kids can take you back to the graffiti-covered tunnels of your youth . . . or mine, anyway.
  • Tell a story with sound effects. Play foley artist with some clompy shoes, crumpled paper, and other odds and ends to make a book come to life.
  • Play with your food. Stretch out meal time by creating works of art before consumption.

  • Indulge the senses. Fill a shallow tray with flour and trace letters and shapes. When that gets old, add in a few small kitchen tools. When that gets old, see #7. Caveat: this can get messy. Protect surfaces accordingly or prepare to vacuum.

  • Make your own play dough. This never gets old. Kids can help make the dough, work in the color, then sculpt–a good run of play for a little effort. Kneading the warm dough is sensory delight. Live Renewed has great step-by-step instructions, as well as even more ideas to keep everyone smiling through long days indoors.
  • Spread out. Spread out paper (rolls or standard sized sheets taped together) on the floor and go to town (or draw one, anyway). Sketch roads and buildings that run the length of the hall, then add cars, people, and labels. Add three-dimensional objects and continue the play for hours.

These are all activities I enjoy doing alongside my children, but occasionally I prefer to stand in the eaves and observe the way they interact with various materials and processes. Of course, sometimes I’m just looking to keep the babes occupied while I cook dinner, practice guitar, or take a moment to gaze out the window.Whatever keeps the peace, within and about.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dakota Gal February 22, 2011 at 11:52 am

I love the snow-in-the-tub idea! That would be extremely helpful to me, as when it is nice enough to go outside I’ve got to hold the baby and I can’t play in the snow with Adeline as she would like. And I can’t believe I always forget to make forts. My sister and I used to use the couch cushions and make great forts and play for hours (well, it seemed like hours; if you asked my mom she’d probably say it was only minutes!).

It’s always good to meet a fellow Decemberists fan. I sometimes can’t get over how amazingly talented they are. I’m still a word lover, too — I keep a notebook full of my favorites. Are you and your husband childhood sweethearts, too?
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Whitney February 23, 2011 at 11:28 am

My toddler was a driving force behind the snow-in-the-tub idea. I could play outside for hours with the big kids, but that just doesn’t work with a babe in tow.

Such a great point about how what felt like hours as children was probably minutes to our mothers, but forts do actually entertain my children for the brunt of a day. The mess afterward is epic, but it’s worth it. I still love climbing inside small spaces–such magic and comfort is found there.

My husband and I are childhood sweethearts; our shared history is a blessing and a curse.

How fun to have so much in common!

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