Indoor Activities for Winter (and Beyond)

>> 11.01.2012

After Sandy, our temperatures took a nose dive into the low 40s. It looks like they are going to stay that way (the high Saturday is only 38!), possibly indefinitely now that winter is upon us. So, not only do my hometown's cloudy days per year rival those in Pacific Northwest locales, but we also get the short end of the stick with the chill factor.

And let's not begin to talk about all those possible winter storms.


All the bundling in the world won't help when the winds are blowing and the thermometer reads below freezing most of November through March. Needless to say, I'm not thrilled at the prospect of being stuck in my tiny house all winter.

I'm sure Ada isn't either. She just doesn't know it yet.

Sure, we have a membership to the children's museum, the library has great story hours, and the mall has a nice indoor play area -- but none of these places are within walking distance and often the ice and snow will keep us from getting there. When Ada's running around on her own two feet . . . and eventually drops to only one nap per day, what will we do?!

I found some links . . .

20 Indoor Activities for Kids -- Besides TV
Indoor Toddler Activities
Learn Through Play: Indoor Toddler Activities
101 Fun, Easy, Cheap Indoor Activities
35 Simple Indoor Toddler Activities
12 Things to Do With Baby On a Rainy Day
17 Great Indoor Games and Activities
Indoor Activities for 12-18-Month-Olds
10 Winter Activities for Toddlers
Winter Activities for Toddler
350+ Toddler Activities

I created this list rather selfishly, so I know where I can find all this info when I need it. If you'd rather not visit all the links, these are my top 20 favorite ideas (many appeared on multiple sites, as well as some of my own) for at-home, mostly indoor activities for pre-toddlers and toddlers:


  • Beach Party: Like a bath on steroids. Put on the bathing suit, blow up the beach ball, put on some fun music, "swim" and play! Too bad we don't have a heat lamp in our bathroom.
  • Indoor Picnic: Lay out a blanket, forget the high chair, and share a sandwich. Maybe even play some nature sounds in the background via YouTube. Bonus would be bringing all Ada's stuffed animals to join us.
  • Sensory Box: We made a rice box for Ada and I feel like she's not getting old enough to use it. We have cups and other toys for at least a half hour of entertainment. Just need to keep the vacuum nearby.
  • Obstacle Course: Obviously for a 1-year-old it won't be too difficult. But on a particularly chilly day, I'll set up different stations with little "challenges" like crawling through a long play tunnel or crawling over a blanket "mountain".
  • Finger Painting: I am excited to start making art with Ada. I bought a few $1 vinyl table cloths at a discount store and could see introducing finger paints and making other small craft projects atop our dining room table. This canvas painting is top on my list.


  • Ball Pit: I may just need to get some of those colorful plastic balls and turn the Pack 'n Play into a ball pit. The PnP has been neglected for far too long anyway.
  • Dance. All we need is music, and we've got plenty of that. Crank up the tunes -- alternating with fast and slow songs for variety -- and wiggle wiggle till we drop.
  • Visit Neighbors: I don't mean play-dates. We don't live in walking distance to friends who are home during the day. Our next-door neighbors, however, love seeing Ada. On a chilly day, we could bundle for the 30-second walk over there for a visit to brighten everyone's day. They have two cats, too!
  • Fold Laundry: What's more fun than folding clothing straight out of the drier? It's warm and cozy -- smells great -- and kids love to take things out of laundry baskets! Could be incentive for me to stop slacking on chores, too.
  • Puppet Show: I saw this puppet theater on Land of Nod for nearly $40. I think making my own would cost me only some old fabric and my time. 


  • Star-Gazing: Ada's room has only one window and can be quite dark on cloudy days. What if I made sure it was black and then projected stars for us to gaze at with her turtle constellation night light? We have flashlights, too. Maybe even glow sticks!
  • Rock Band: I already wrote about our Melissa and Doug band-in-a-box kit. But I also have a violin and guitar. Ada loves when I play them, so we could definitely make it a more regular part of our routine. She's a fantastic percussionist and has even started singing lately. 
  • Bubbles: I haven't met a child who doesn't get all excited when bubbles are blowing around. Really, in particularly bad weather, I could riff off the indoor picnic idea and pretend we're at the park.
  • Face Time: We're not the only ones stuck indoors. The majority of our relatives are, too. I think it's absolutely incredible that we're able to talk "face-to-face" with technology. I've already joked with Stephen that I'll Face Time with Ada every night when she's at college.
  • Hike: Again, this would only involve trekking into the backyard. But we have a small "mountain" that we could "hike" up and then look at the sticks, pine cones, and other nature-tastic things. And if things get too chilly, we'll come back indoors in two seconds flat. I bought Ada a like-new pair of snow pants at Good Will, and I intend to use them.


  • Cooking: Our kitchen isn't huge and there isn't a great way to Ada to really help me cook at this stage - she's just too young. But she loves sitting in her high chair watching me chop veggies and stir pots of soup, etc. I could let her sample my creations -- yeah, that might "eat up" an hour or so! 
  • Egg Hunt: Ada's grandma gave her two of those Easter eggs that you can hide things inside. She's obsessed with them. If I got more, I could hide them in the couch or in her play tent and then let her loose to find them all. 
  • Dress-Up: I don't know if you could tell, but Ada really enjoyed her Halloween costume. I have a ton of scarves and hats that I could put inside a box for play time. I bet we could even craft some simple masks to go with them. 
  • Petting Zoo: I loved this idea on Taking Terrible Out of Toddler. Just arrange stuffed animals all around your babe's room and then pet and even "feed" them.
  • Life Skills: I know this sounds intense, but when I saw the list of skills a 12-18 month old can already learn to master, it got me thinking. We could practice these things. Why not?


What are your favorite indoor activities? Truth be told, we spend a lot of time at home in general due to our budget and my at-home work schedule, so many of these things can be year-round favorites, too!

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