With winter comes fun snow days, warm hot cocoa, and snuggly sweater weather. But bad weather months also means that playtime shifts from occurring outdoors to indoors. If you’re looking for things to do indoors with toddlers, take comfort in knowing that there are still plenty of options that will keep your child entertained. With some creativity and brainstorming, you’ll have plenty of fun ideas in no time. But if you’re looking for some inspiration, here’s our list of ideas for winter activities for toddlers.
Babies learn about the world around them through the use of their senses—touch, smell, sight, and sound. To help foster a healthy curiosity of the world around them, encourage them to play with different materials that stimulate their senses. Here’s a few options to get you started:
Water playGrab a few towels, a tupperware bowl or other large container and head to a non-carpeted area for some fun water play! Fill up the bowl with water and add any other items you have on hand—cups, toys, rubber ducks, etc. Your child will love getting to play with toys and water.
If you like the idea of water play but don’t want your toddler to splash everywhere, try filling up that same large container with rice instead. Add cups, funnels, buckets, and toys, and your toddler will be sure to enjoy the texture of rice between their fingers.
If there’s one “toy” that has been utilized for generations, it’s slime. By mixing two cups of water, one cup of cornflour, and a drop of food dye of your choosing, you’ll get a fun, goopy material your child is sure to enjoy. Just make sure to keep an eye on your toddler so they don’t eat the slime!
For this activity, grab a few pipe cleaners and a box of Cheerios. Have your toddler push the pipe cleaners through the holes of the Cheerio. To make this activity harder, use a thinner material (such as a spaghetti noodle or thread for older children) and encourage your child to keep threading the Cheerios through your object of choice.
If your toddler loves to paint, but you don’t love the mess, then squirt paint into a Ziploc sandwich or gallon bag. Your toddler will get a kick out of squeezing the paint between their fingers and exploring the texture, and it’ll make for a really easy clean up on your part. Win-win!
Don’t have any extra supplies on hand? All you need is ice and two bowls. Your toddler will have a blast scooping ice from one bowl and transferring it to the other.
If your toddler likes engaging in creative projects, then they’re sure to delight in experimenting with arts and crafts projects. The good thing about these projects? If you don’t have “typical arts & crafts” supplies, you can also come up with a number of ideas using objects from around the house.
Don’t worry; this suggestion doesn’t involve letting your toddler actually paint their body. Instead, have them lie down on a large piece of paper and trace the outside of their body. Then, cut the paper and let them either draw or paint the cutout of their body. Bonus points if they attempt a self-portrait!
Have a few extra cardboard boxes lying around? Have your toddler build a box house and color the outside. Or, perhaps transform a larger box into a rocket ship and have them decorate the outside like their ideal rocket!
Recycle item fun
Take out a few recycled items (such as old cereal boxes, plastic bottles, and other recyclables) and see what your toddler can create with the items. Perhaps they’ll create their own mini-city or create their own new invention.
For the toddler who likes arts & crafts and food, baking can be a terrific indoors activity. Try a simple recipe like sugar cookies, and let your toddler assist you with measuring and mixing ingredients, cutting out fun shapes with the dough, and decorating with sprinkles or icing. They’ll love getting to eat what they helped make!
Although many of these activities are sure to stimulate your child’s brain and foster a sense of curiosity and excitement, here are a few additional activities for parents who want to offer even more challenging games for their toddlers:
Grab a few of your toddler’s puzzles and mix all of the pieces together. Encourage them to sort through the pieces in order to complete all of the puzzles. Their brain will be stimulated as they have to sort through the numerous puzzles to find the correct pieces.
Pom pom fun
Fluffy pom poms are a great item to have on hand when it comes time to think of indoor activities for toddlers. Take an empty box or plastic container and cut holes in the top, allowing your toddler to push the pom poms through the holes. To make the activity more challenging, set a timer and see how many they can get in an allotted amount of time. Or, color code the holes, and quiz your toddler on their colors by having them push the green pom poms through the green hole, etc.
ABC scavenger hunt
Looking for a fun way to practice the ABC’s? Create an alphabet scavenger hunt. Ask your toddler to collect items around the house that start with all of the letters of the alphabet. Or, pick one letter at a time, and see how long it takes them to find something nearby that begins with that same letter.
For this game, you can either find rings (such as pool rings or plastic rings) or make your own rings by twisting pipe cleaners together. Once you have your rings, toss them into their bowls or buckets. For more of a challenge, have them stand further away or have them use their non-dominant hand.
Golf tee hammering
If Dad is a golfer, chances are you’ll have a number of golf tees laying around. If so, grab the golf tees and an empty cardboard box, and let your toddler “hammer” them in (either with a toy hammer or a small hammer). To give your toddler more of a challenge, ask them to only hammer specific colored golf fees, and let them pull the tees out of the box.
Toddlers who normally enjoy playing and running outside may need some more active activities when cooped up inside. Here are a few ideas that are sure to keep them active and happy.
Blow up a couple of balloons and grab some fly swatters and tell your toddler that the goal of the game is to make sure that the balloons don’t hit the ground. If your toddler gets the hang of it, make it more challenging by adding another balloon to the mix or using a stopwatch to see how long they can keep one balloon in the air.
Build a fort
No matter the age of your child, chances are they’ll enjoy building some sort of fort inside. Grab chairs, blankets, pillows, and anything else you can think of and transform part of the house into an inviting den. Once you have the structure set up, your toddler will have fun “decorating” the inside of the fort with their favorite pillows and toys.
Have a toddler that’s obsessed with their toy cars? Grab an empty pizza box, container, or other miscellaneous box and help them transform it into a car ramp. (Bonus points if they can decorate their car ramp). Once it’s finished, they can race their cars down the ramp and see how far they fly.
If you have cans or bottles around your house, challenge your toddler to see how high they can stack them. Or, challenge them to gather miscellaneous items around your house and stack those objects, starting with larger objects and finishing with the smallest objects.