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Brother and sister look out of their ski lodge window. The little girl's hand is against the window.

When it comes to being stuck inside because of the snowy weather, sometimes it’s all too easy to plop on the couch and stare at a screen all day. However, there are plenty of alternatives to keep you and your brain active. These activities are especially important for kids on a cold winter day. As the days keep getting colder, it’s smart to have some engaging things on hand, such as low-tech learning activities, crafting and cooking supplies, and a little sense of adventure.

These ideas are sure to be a hit to keep your kids active during the winter.

Read a Book

A snow day is the perfect time to dive into some good books.

As I was growing up, my mother always brought home a giant tote bag of books from the library for us to read each week. There was nothing like the excitement and anticipation of the new books at our fingertips. Having these on hand for cold winter days could be as easy as a trip to the library just one night per week.

Move It or Lose It

Another staple is to have something prepared that involves movement – it could be a yoga lesson geared for kids or a cardio hip-hop dance DVD so you can all stretch or dance together. If these aren’t your thing, ask the kids to share a game they learned at school, like Slow-Motion Ninja Zombies. It’s a classroom game where kids move around the room with ninja and zombie moves, all the while trying not to move too fast or get tagged by someone else.

For younger kinds, creating an account with a fun, interactive website like Go Noodle can liven up any chilly day and get everyone moving. The website is a favorite among teachers for encouraging movement indoors. GoNoodle features fun videos with music and opportunities to play and dance along.

Get Crafty

Crafting and sensory activities are a no-brainer for a cold day.

One idea is to have washable paints in storage so you can use them to make designs in the snow. Just grab some snow from outside and place it in plastic containers, and then you can paint snow from the comfort of your heated home.

Another huge hit with many families is having the supplies to make homemade playdough. Not only is it engaging for the kids to follow a recipe, but it’s also a great way to practice fine motor skills and imagination, using their hands to create different shapes and characters.

Become a Master Chef

What’s even better than crafting? Adding delicious snow-day snacks to go along with a craft. Have some white mugs and paints or oil-based paint pens reserved for a cold day to decorate your own mugs to sip some homemade hot chocolate. Or, teach kids how to make your favorite slow-cooker chili recipe. Have the kids help build it in the slow cooker and check in on it as the day goes by.

You can also never go wrong with combining the ingredients for your favorite cookies. Making sugar cookies require minimal ingredients and keep the kids engaged. They get to be involved in the entire process: mixing the batter, rolling out the dough, creating fun shapes with cookie cutters and decorating the cooled cookies with icing and sprinkles.

Go on an Adventure

Maybe it’s your third snow day in a row and you’re running out of things to do with the little ones – or maybe you’re just looking for something extra special to do. One of the most magical things you can have on hand are a few elements of adventure when you can’t play outside.

Castles, tent cities and forts offer some of the greatest imaginary playtimes, even for adults. Simply pull out some of those large moving boxes you may have stored, or try to keep a couple extra pillows and blankets around for more than just visiting guests. Pick a room and deck it out to make you feel as if you’re stepping into another world. Use crayons to decorate the boxes and scissors to cut out window holes; use chairs and couch cushions to drape bed sheets across a room. The kids will have a blast and happily ride the wave of freedom to tear up the house for fun. Don’t sweat it though, parents; turn clean-up time into a game afterward as well.

When all else fails, another way to introduce adventure would be to have a field-trip day planned ahead of time for those days when it is safe to travel outside. Save the day with a trip to the recreation center to go swimming at an indoor pool or play in the open gym. Go to that science museum you haven’t gotten to yet. As a matter of fact, research has shown the importance of bringing kids to art museums – they foster more than just creativity in kids. Turn the trip into a play date and meet up with another family.

The possibilities are endless – all it takes is a little planning ahead of time. Try picking one thing from each category to cover you for the few too-cold days that this winter will bring. Reserve them for only those special days, and you’ll be sure to win their attention over the TV. What are some things you like to have on hand? Share them with us in the comments section.

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