8 Indoor Activities to Beat Cabin Fever

Parenting Tips and Tools from St. David's Center

Between sub-zero temperatures and ice-coated streets, winter—especially in Minnesota—can be a challenging time for parents of young children. Keeping young ones busy when they’re stuck indoors takes some imagination (and a tolerance for messes).

Here are some ideas from our teachers and therapists to keep kids occupied indoors:

1. Make an indoor obstacle course.

Just because you can’t get outside doesn’t mean little bodies can’t move. Crawl over chairs, under tables or around couch cushions. Half the fun is setting it up, so be sure to do clean-up before attention wanes. This is an opportunity to practice folding blankets and putting back pillows.

2. Host the family Olympics.

Take the obstacle course a step further and involve the whole family. Divide into teams and hold jumping, hopping, push-up and sit-up contests. You could also include a craft project to create gold, silver and bronze medals.

3. Save cardboard boxes.

Don’t recycle the TV or dishwasher box quite yet. Use large boxes (smaller ones will work for younger children) as props to climb in and around. Fill the box with crumbled newspaper. Play “Pop Goes the Weasel” or Jack-in-the-Box by jumping out.

4. Blow bubbles.

Bubbles don’t have to be just for summer. Dig up a bottle of bubbles (or make your own with water, dish soap and a drop of glycerin). Kids or adults can blow bubbles. Have children try popping them before they reach the floor. Experiment with popping bubbles in fast or slow motion. 

5. Bring outside games in.

The middle of the living room might be just right for a game of Simon Says, Follow the Leader or Red Light Green Light. These games use large motor skills without taking up lots of space.

6. Make an indoor snowman.

A pile of old newspapers make great filling for a “snowman” inside. Crumple paper into trash bags to create a snowman. Fill old clothes with crumpled newspaper to create life-size men, women and children. You can even make piles of newspaper into “snow banks” to kick or roll in.

7. Bring the snow to you.

Just because it’s too cold to play outside, doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the snow.  Bring in snow in a kiddie wading pool, cookie sheet or plastic storage bin. Use shovels, spoons and cups to dig and build. Add a squirt bottle of water (add a few drops of food coloring) to make designs. Be sure to have towels handy.

8. Make playdough.

Involve kids in the making of a huge batch of playdough. Then lay plastic sheeting (or cut apart plastic garbage bags) on the floor so little feet can walk over the playdough. Make a giant snake, a big ball, huge pancake or footprints.



Playdough Recipe There are many recipes for playdough on the web. Here is one. For children with gluten allergies or sensitivities, look for a gluten-free version. (Double this recipe for a huge batch)

1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups water (mixed with a few drops of your favorite color food dye)
2 tablespoon vegetable oil

Mix all ingredients. Knead until smooth. Keep dough covered and refrigerated.

Looking for more resources?

Contact CORE at 952.548.8700 or coreinfo@stdavidscenter.org.


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Information on this site is provided for informational and educational purposes and is not meant to substitute for the advice provided by your own physician or other professional.   

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