Keep the boredom at bay this winter!

It can be challenging to keep your children entertained during long, snowy days at home! Check out these seven fun and unique ideas to help keep your children busy.

Sledding is one of many ways to keep children busy during winter break. Photo credit: Belt.

Sledding is one of many ways to keep children busy during winter break. Photo credit: Belt.

Nearly as soon as the wrapping paper is picked up, and the family has gone home, the chorus of, “I’m bored!” will sound from children who are home with a long winter break stretching out before them. Here are seven fun ideas by Michigan State University Extension to keep your children busy during break, after the luster of the new toys has worn off!

  1. Make snowflakes: Did you know that real snowflakes in nature have six points? Follow this folding pattern and make your own six pointed snowflakes to decorate your home. Younger children can draw the lines for you to cut, as sharp scissors are needed to cut through the folded paper. Hang completed snowflakes or glue to windows for beautiful wintertime decorations!
  2. Make giant marbles: Carefully place a few drops of food coloring into an empty balloon and slowly fill with water. Freeze, then pierce the balloon and peel it back. The result is a beautiful giant marble! Make a variety of colors and line your sidewalk, or try different amounts of food coloring or mixing colors for varying effects. To go further, talk with children about how ice forms and the states of matter.
  3. Maple syrup snow candy: Did you know that maple syrup production is the oldest agricultural practice in the U.S.? In the pioneer days, once the maple sap was boiled down to syrup, some was poured onto fresh snow and cooled to form candy. Sugar was hard to come by, so candy was a special treat! To make snow candy, heat maple syrup (some recipes call for butter as well) to the hard crack stage on a candy thermometer and then pour it onto clean snow. Remember that boiling the maple syrup is an adult only task.
  4. Go sledding: There isn’t a list of fun winter activities that doesn’t include outdoor play! Make sure to dress appropriately for the cold weather and head outside! Many Michigan communities have community maintained sledding hills. To prevent injury, teach children to slide feet first and consider use of a properly fitted winter sports helmet. Always supervise sledding and choose sledding hills with caution. Select hills that are free of obstruction and avoid those that end in a street, parking lot or drop off.
  5. Build a blanket fort: When it’s too cold to build a snow fort outside, gather up the blankets and make a blanket fort, inside! Children love building forts with blankets, sheets, pillows, tables and chairs. It’s all the more fun when parents join in the game. Take this timeless activity to the next level by helping with the structural engineering. For instance, pool noodles make excellent safe roof supports for the middle of your fort. Once your fort is built, grab some favorite books and a mug of hot chocolate and snuggle in for story time.
  6. Paint the snow: Fill up clean spray bottles with food coloring and fresh water. Head outside to find some beautiful fresh white snow, and turn your little Picasso’s loose! Be sure to go over the guidelines for this activity before heading out. MSU Extension suggests the first rule is to only spray the snow. Remember to bring along a camera since these masterpieces will not last for long!
  7. Go on a winter scavenger hunt: Bored with sledding? Already made a snowman? Send your kids on a winter scavenger hunt! You can create a list of items for them to find, or turn to the Internet for a free printable list. Go further with this fun activity by visiting your local nature center, zoo or park and learn more about animals and nature in the winter.

While it can be challenging to keep children engaged on cold, snowy days, winter presents many fun and unique opportunities for learning through play! MSU Extension encourages you to take advantage of the weather, and explore with your children this winter!