Winter can be tough, especially if you live in a part of the country where winter seems to be never-ending -- after months of cold weather, snow days and bad weather, boredom sets in and you've likely exhausted all of your ideas for entertaining little ones suffering from cabin fever. So we racked our brains to come up with new and unique winter activities -- including some activities that your kids may never have done before. Here are seven fun and eco-friendly activities to break out when the winter blues start to take over.
1. Grow an Organic Garden Indoors
Nothing says spring like new life growing up from the earth. Even though spring is several cold months away, you can enjoy the season a little early inside your home. Growing an organic garden indoors can be as simple as planting herbs in small reusable pots in your kitchen window, or sprouting bean seeds or cold crops in a miniature window greenhouse. Children will delight in first planting the seeds, then watching as the seeds sprout and begin to grow into seedlings. Then, when spring does arrive, they can help plant their seedlings in the family garden.
2. Send them on a Nature Scavenger Hunt
All children love a scavenger hunt. There is just something fun about finding hidden objects. Add a little nature to your scavenger hunt by making a list of items from nature that will be harder to find when snow is covering the ground. Your list could include; a leave, blade of grass, a flower petal, a spoonful of dirt, a berry, a rock, a stick or anything that they could find in your backyard with a little searching and digging. For added interest you could hide a few household objects as well such as an empty milk jug, or a rubber duck.
3. Sleepover at the Museum
A night at the museum isn’t just for the movies. Did you know that many museums around the country have events where children can spend the night? The children arrive at the museum after dinner and enjoy a tour of the museum, usually followed by a related movie, popcorn and then a sleepover under the exhibits. You can increase the fun by having your child get into character. For example, if your child is spending the night at a natural history museum, they may want to dress up as a prehistoric creature. Check with your local museums to find an upcoming event.
4. Go Geocaching
Have you heard of geocaching? Geocaching is an outdoor activity in which the participants use a GPS receiver or other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers (called “geocaches” or “caches”). Think of it as a type of treasure hunting — you follow the coordinates to a box of small mystery prizes, which children can not resist. Geocaching is even more fun in wintertime, because the caches are harder to find. Check with your local nature and community centers — many will offer geocaching activities.
5. Throw a Recycled Crafting Party
Children are very imaginative, they can create something out of almost nothing, by simple using their creativity. Invite your child’s friends over for an afternoon of crafting from items found in the recycling bin. You’ll be amazed by the creations your children can make when given a milk carton, scissors, recycled paper and glue. If you need inspiration, check out Inhabitots’ green DIY projects.
6. Take a Reflective Winter Walk
The world that surrounds us looks, feels and even smells differently during the winter. Take your children for an afternoon winter walk with a journal and a pen in hand. Walk around your neighborhood, taking periodic breaks to note the differences in the environment during winter. This is a great way to encourage children to stop to observe the life around them and to appreciate the many different aspects that our Earth has to offer.
7. Make Every Night, Family Game Night
Since the days are shorter and those after dinner runarounds in the grass are a distant memory — children end up spending a lot more time inside the house. Add a little fun and togetherness by making every night of the week, game night. Assign each family member a day of the week on which they will get to choose the game that is played. Whether you’re playing a classic board game, enjoying a Wii bowling match or playing duck, duck, goose, each member of your family will delight in being in charge of choosing the nightly game.
How do you keep your children entertained during the long winter?