Need some new ideas for kids stuck indoors? On a snowy winter’s day, kids love to play outdoors, especially when these 14 classic outdoor winter activities are on the agenda. But sometimes it’s just too cold to struggle into the snow pants one more time! Takes these tips from an apartment-dwelling family that having a few ideas for indoor nature activities is essential for a day of winter fun.
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Here are some of our tried-and-true favorite indoor winter nature activities:
Playing with thin ice. My kids had great fun playing with thin ice. This idea was inspired by a visit to the local lake that wasn’t quite frozen over. See how my boys explored a tray of thin ice that we made indoors. I’m a big proponent of free play and this was ended up being a great idea! They used rocks, toys vehicles, and sticks and it was surprisingly entertaining!
Bring the snow inside. See how we brought the snow inside for a winter-y traffic jam. Playing with snow inside is a wonderful and sensory-filled way to pass the time. Place snow-filled trays on a large towel or tablecloth to protect floors from the inevitable melted snow.
Create an indoor snow scape. Make Instant Snow! I realize this isn’t exactly “natural,” but my kids LOVED it, and it’s an especially welcome activity when it is cold outside but there is NO SNOW, which frequently happens here in the Big Apple. Fill up a large, deep tray or tupperware bucket with the stuff, add a few toys and your kids are all set for an afternoon of pretend play. Later on you can repurpose the fake snow in mini winter terrariums. (Note: Do not put it down the drain!)
Get creative with rocks. I’m willing to bet your kids love playing with rocks. My kids adore throwing them in ponds and rivers. While they can’t throw rocks inside, one of the most universally loved indoor nature activities is to decorate rocks. This is an especially good indoor activity for tweens. A kid armed with metallic Sharpies can make some super cool Zentangle rocks! Kids can paint on rocks with tempera paint, melt crayons on rocks, or use puffy paint to create vivid designs.
Show love to winged friends. Make bird feeders to hang out when it’s not too chilly to open the door. We have four bird feeder recipes for you. Be sure to make some hot cocoa and pull a chair up to the windows for some indoor bird watching.
Fill your home with sweet and spicy fragrance. Make pomanders with oranges and cloves. It doubles as excellent fine motor practice!
Decorate with nature. Dry and string orange slices. We did this one year and then set them out in a neighborhood tree. We loved seeing it as we walked down the sidewalk and the process of drying the slices makes the house smell yummy. Get the instructions for drying orange slices here.
Set up sensory stations. A super easy way to play with nature indoors is to set a nature sensory bin. If your unfamiliar with sensory bins, here are some great instructions to set up a simple nature bin. Alternatively, make a winter “calm down” sensory bottle for little ones.
Experiment! Why not engage in a little science exploration? Throw all caution to the wind and make evergreen and berry winter oobleck.
Grow something. We plant paperwhite bulbs every year. Follow this simple tutorial for how to plant paperwhites, or grow something from your kitchen scraps. Read about how kids can regrow vegetable scraps. Or, plant items from your kitchen pantry and race to see whose grow the fastest!
Read! When you just want to relax and be cozy, read aloud to the kids. Here are some book lists to inspire you: