If you’re lucky enough to live in a rural area, take advantage of your surroundings by finding a winter-friendly nature walk. Even in the colder months, there are still plenty of opportunities to go bird watching and spot a deer. Obviously, kids might get tired, or complain about the cold. So make sure they’re bundled up, and consider bringing hand warmers and toasty drinks in a thermos.
Before you go out into the wilderness, make sure to do some research about safety in your local area. For example, some places rain more in the winter months, so there is likely to be an increase of mud and slippery conditions in wetlands. Predators like bears are typically hibernating in the winter, but wolves are still active in the cold. Just do your research, be prepared, stick to the trails, and have fun.
The idea of making an ice sculpture seems intimidating, especially if you have never done it before. But there are actually a lot of easy DIY ice sculpture ideas on Pinterest. One of them is simple and straightforward, by using a plastic cup as a mold, pouring water into it, and allowing it to set in the cold. Some people will add food coloring to the water beforehand, which creates a colorful “sculpture”. Others figure out a way to make ice bricks so that their kids can build an igloo.
If you’re the type of person who wants to dive into a more professional type of ice sculpting, check out this video by Wired, presented by an ice sculptor named Shintaro Okamoto. Unfortunately, though, it’s probably too difficult and dangerous to allow your kids to do.
34. Make Paper Mache Out Of All That Extra Toilet Paper and Paper Towels
Admit it. You’ve been hoarding toilet paper and paper towels, haven’t you? If you have extra lying around, you might as well use some of it for a fun winter time craft! Believe it or not, you can make paper mache and even modeling clay out of wet paper towels and toilet paper. YouTube is full of videos teaching you how to make various types of paper mache with flour, glue, water, and paper.
One of the easiest paper mache projects is to use glue or mod podge to stick paper towels onto a balloon. Once the paper is dried, your kids can use a needle to pop the balloon. What’s left is a bowl shaped structure. They can turn it into a face, bowl, and so many other things. The possibilities are actually endless with DIY paper mache. Check out Pinterest and YouTube for inspiration.
When I was a kid, building a blanket fort was one of my favorite games to play with my brothers. It felt like a little secret hideaway where I could read my books in peace. Obviously, a lot of people felt that way about their childhood too, because the comedy TV show Community featured an entire episode with the world’s biggest blanket fort.
If your kids haven’t done so yet, encourage them to make a blanket fort. Even if you don’t have a lot of throw blankets, try helping them to build one with an extra bed sheet. Obviously, make sure they set things up far away from anything that can fall and break.
32. Make Trips to the Library to Pick Up Free Books and Movies
One of the best things to do on a snow day is to curl up and read a good book. But since we’ve been stuck inside for so long, many of us might have run out of books to read. Ever since last spring, most public libraries closed down to customers. However, you can still reserve books and movies online for free. Check out the website of your local library brand for further details about picking up media safely.
Besides renting physical books, most libraries are also sharing their content digitally. Download the OverDrive app, and log in with your library card information. Once you have everything set up, you can borrow ebooks and audiobooks for free for up to 2 weeks. This will save both adults and kids a ton of money compared to paying for Audible or Kindle.
Painting is a great way to relieve stress for both kids and adults. With so much going on in 2020, nearly everyone can use a break with painting. One of the cheapest and easiest paints to get started with is watercolors. Dollar Tree even sells a little set of paints that you can buy for your kids. If they’re very young, allow them to paint over top of pre-existing coloring book pages. Admittedly, this is going to bleed through if it gets too wet, so be sure to keep paper towels underneath whatever they’re painting.
A pack of watercolor paper usually costs around $5 to $10 from the craft store, and it should be enough paper to last all winter long. The great thing about watercolor paint is that if your kids accidentally make a mess, it’s not going to stain your kitchen table. But if you want some added protection, Dollar Tree sells $1 plastic tablecloths, too!
If you live in a hilly area, sledding is one of the best activities for kids to do on a snow day. As an added bonus, an average adult can burn around 240 calories after 30 minutes of sledding. So go ahead and join your kids in the fun. Don’t forget to buy a snow suit for each of your kids before you go, since it’s all too easy to get your clothes wet and catch hypothermia. When it’s all over, change out of those clothes, take a bath, and curl up with a cup of hot cocoa.
Depending on where you live, your local mountain or ski resorts might still be open to allowing sledding, tubing, skiing and snowboarding, so long as you can social distance. If at all possible, bring your own equipment so that you don’t need to touch the same objects used by strangers.
Hopefully you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, because we’re suggesting that you build a snowman with your kids. It doesn’t matter if the snowman is big or small, as long as it has a lot of character. Most of us grew up building a snowman at least once in our lives, and it’s a right of passage for childhood. (Unless you live somewhere warm where it doesn’t snow.)
Consider preparing for this snowman ahead of time by buying large buttons, a corn cob pipe, or anything else that you might plan to put on it. Even if you don’t have the money to buy these accessories, a hat and scarf with rocks for eyes always seems to do the trick.
In the past, it was popular for people to go to their local photographer for family photos to put in their Christmas cards. Depending on your financial situation, or your comfort level with taking the family out or photos, that might not be possible this year. But you don’t have to give up your annual family photoshoot just because we’re living in the 2020 holiday season. One alternative you can do is try to set up a photoshoot in your own house.
This might require you to put up your Christmas tree early, or possibly make some props to put in the background. They also sell affordable ring lights online, so you can give your home more professional lighting if you’re staying indoors. Personally, my family usually takes our photos outside so that we can have a lot of natural light and used trees as the background to our photographs. This way, it doesn’t matter if your house is a bit of a mess. You can still get a great family photo together with everyone.
In the winter time, birds will peck into the snow looking for something to eat. Obviously, it’s more difficult for birds to find food to eat when it’s cold outside. Don’t worry- they’ll be okay, and it’s a natural part of life. But the difficulty finding food is why a lot of people like to set up bird feeders to help them. This will help to increase the bird population in your local area, especially if you have birdhouses set up for shelter.
Another great benefit of a bird feeder is that you can watch the birds as they gather to eat. Many people like to put these bird feeders right in front of their window, or at least somewhere in the backyard where you can watch them. When I was a kid, my mom helped us to spread peanut butter all over a pinecone, and then we dipped it in bird seed before hanging it by a piece of yarn. If you set this up together with your kids, and they’ll get excited every time they see a new bird or squirrel taking a snack from their feeder. This could also be an educational opportunity to learn about the various birds that come out in the winter time in your local area.
Some of you may have grown up making “pomanders”, or a perfume ball made out of an orange. This is a French tradition, and pomander essentially means “apple of perfume”. It is a tradition to take cloves and stick them into an orange. This released both scents at once, and it smells incredibly festive and amazing. The good news is that they’re easy to make with your kids, too! Poke any pattern you want with the cloves. It could be a straight line, star, heart, or whatever you like.
Years ago, oranges were given as a Christmas gift. Citrus fruits were expensive and rare, but people loved to eat them. Some French castles, or Chateaus, even had “orangeries”, or an entire greenhouse devoted to growing citrus. Today, some families in Europe still carry on the tradition of putting an orange in their children’s stockings. While you make the pomander balls with your kids, cut up an extra orange into slices so that they can enjoy a health snack. Or, if you’re feeling naughty, give them the chocolate orange candy, instead.
The majority of people in the United States celebrate Christmas every year. This is especially true if they grew up with a Christian background. But just because you grew up in a secular or Christian household doesn’t mean that you can’t learn about something different. In the TV show called The OC, one of the characters named Seth Cohen created his own holiday “Christmakkuh”, which is a combination of both Christmas and Hanukkah. In previous years, I chose to celebrate Christmakkuh at home, and it was so much fun. Instead of just celebrating on Christmas, my family had 8 nights of Hanukkah, too.
Celebrating multiple holidays could also be done with other winter occasions like Kwanza, Boxing Day, Omisoka, and Chinese New Year. Don’t worry, because you don’t have to spend a lot of money to buy new decorations for each of their holidays. Even by simply learning about the traditions of other people, you’re going to open up your kid’s minds to respecting cultures that are different from their own.
Kids love when you read to them, especially when they’re young. According to multiple academic studies, reading out loud to children helps them on multiple levels. This helps their communication skills, attention span, literacy, and even gets them to behave better in school. Children who read from a very young age tend to get very good grades, and go on to have great careers. As we mentioned earlier, public libraries are still lending out books to people via car side pickup. So even if you’re financially struggling right now, it should be free to get some good books for your kids.
Besides making them more intelligent, reading a story does multiple things. It shows your children that you care about them, and want to spend time together. A story can also help to give them something beautiful and happy to think about right before they go to sleep. This is much needed right now, with so many scary things happening in the world right now. And when they read along with you, they tend to pick up on the words. So if you’re not already doing so, we highly recommend you getting started reading stories with your kids. I highly recommend getting theIllustrated Harry Potter set. This is an amazing way to re-read an old favorite, while exposing your kids to the series for the first time.
Nowadays, almost everyone has a camera on their cell phone. And if you’re in your 20’s or 30’s, you may have grown up being filmed by your parent’s camcorder. If you own kids haven’t seen all of these old home movies, it might be time to bring them out. Your kids will love seeing themselves open presents from Christmases in the past.
As an added bonus, you might even want to consider editing the video together on your computer, if necessary. Kids always love to see themselves when they were younger, and they might be surprised to know that you were once a kid, too. If your older home movies are on a VHS tape or CD, you might want to consider purchasing a VHS digital converter for Christmas so that you can download the memories forever without risk of the tapes getting damaged. This could be an incredibly sentimental and heartwarming surprise gift to give someone.
If you’re on a budget, having your kids cut snowflakes out of construction paper is one of the cheapest and easiest winter decorations. It doesn’t matter if they look perfect, so long as your kids had fun making them. Dollar Tree sells packs of construction paper for just $1, and it’s enough to get your kids started. Plain white printer paper works, too.
If you’re trying to make more intricate designs, search the Internet for templates to make folding snowflakes. When all else fails, have your kids freestyle their own creations. Just pay attention to all of the little pieces of white paper that are likely to fall on the floor. Once all of the snowflakes are complete, you can tape them to the window as adorable decorations.
Packs of Christmas cards are cheap and easy to buy from the store. But if you want to give your kids a fun craft to do, encourage them to make their own Christmas cards for their friends and family. Packs of construction paper can be found at the Dollar Tree for only $1 each, and they also sell markers, scissors, stickers, and more.
Chances are that if you stocked up on crafting supplies for homeschool, you probably already have everything you need at home to get started on this project. Reach out to parents on Facebook, or have your kids ask for the addresses of their friends. For just a few dollars, you can send handmade cards to friends and family, and it will surely bring a smile to their face.
Board games are a classic way to enjoy an evening where it’s too cold to go outside. Depending on how old your kids are, you should choose a game that’s friendly for everyone. (For example, it’s not really appropriate for younger kids to play Cards Against Humanity.) Chances are that you have some games already lying around the house. And if you contact your parents, they probably have plenty of games from your childhood sitting in the attic.
But if you’re looking for a suggestion of a new board game to buy, a great title for any age isSettlers of Catan. Board games can be a great gift to give around the holiday season. Catan also has several expansion packs, as well as a Junior version. I was skeptical about enjoying this when I first learned to play, but it was truly fun. It should be a good time for the entire family.
Baking is an essential skill for most people, but there are still plenty of adults out there who have never experienced it. Even if your skill set limits you to making a box mix, it’s still an amazing experience to bake cookies or brownies with your children. They will feel proud of themselves, and it is a great bonding experience. And one day, when they grow up, they will look back and remember the fond memories of baking together as a family.
As an added bonus, decorating sugar cookies or gingerbread men is like doing an edible craft. If you have the extra money to spare, consider buying candy and icing so that you can decorate cookies. This is something that will stick in their memories for years to come, and a great photo opportunity for Instagram. I know some people that have a cookie decorating competition in their house every year, which adds a bit of fun and competition to the mix.
Just like baking, learning how to cook is an essential life skill. Right now, in 2020, more people than ever are realizing just how important it is to know how to cook their meals at home. Without the ability to rely on restaurants, options are limited. You need the skills to make healthy food from home. Start out by teaching your kids some basic recipes. Walmart makes pre-made pizza dough in the bakery section for just $1 each. All you have to do is preheat the oven, roll out the pizza dough, add sauce and cheese, and you’re done. Also teach them some of the recipes you already know. Reach out to parents and grandparents for old family recipes.
If you’re still struggling to know how to cook, there are a ton of YouTube videos out there that will give you tips on how to get started for free. Personally, I think watching videos is the best way to learn, because you can rewind, pause, and double-check how someone cooked something. If your kids grow up learning basic skills, they will grow up to be competent adults who are more likely to be healthy with the food they eat.
Making snow angels is a rite of passage for most people. If your kids have never made a snow angel before, show them how it’s done. In case you didn’t know, a snow angel is when you lay down in fresh snow, and flap your arms and legs until it forms the shape of an angel. Take pictures on your phone to capture the memories, and just have fun with it!
However, if you don’t have a snow suit, clothes can get cold and wet very quickly. Make sure your kids don’t stay outside for too long if they have been laying in the snow. Follow up the snow angel making with some warm cocoa, and a cozy fire.
16. Teach Them About Your Family’s Cultural Traditions
The United States is filled with people from all different cultural backgrounds. And if your family has been around for a while, chances are that your ethnicity is a mixture of many different countries around the world. Unfortunately, most people only bother to celebrate the traditions that we see in TV and movies, which is Christmas and New Years.
Take some time to learn about your family’s cultural traditions, and pass them on to your children. This is an opportunity for everyone to learn more about your roots, and celebrate what makes you unique. You may find that your cultural background has a tradition that is so exciting, you’ll want to start incorporating it into your holidays every year.
Depending on your situation, you might be very picky about how your Christmas trees are decorated. Some parents want to have complete control over the tree, because they want it to look like something out of a designer magazine. However, most kids actually love to help you decorate a Christmas tree. The years when they enjoy the process go by so fast, so don’t let those moments slip away. Even if you do enjoy making a designer Christmas tree, try to pass on some of those tips to your children. When they grow up, they’ll be master decorators.
If at all possible, allow your kids to help you decorate the tree. And if you can afford it, consider buying a second tree so that your kids can just go wild putting whatever non-breakable ornaments they want on that one. In my house, my parents always put the breakable glass ornaments near the top of the tree so that they were too high for us kids to reach. Try to figure out what works best for your family, and have fun.
Puzzles are one of the best winter pastimes that you can possibly do. For some of you, the thought of doing a puzzle sounds boring. But in reality, it’s actually very stimulating no matter who you are. Your kids will have a lot of fun doing this puzzle together, especially if they can watch one of their favorite movies in the background. In nursing homes, elderly people are given puzzles, because it helps them to prevent alzheimer’s disease. Puzzles can help the mental health of your family too, for alleviating anxiety and giving everyone something to focus on.
For anyone on a really tight budget, your local thrift store will probably have used puzzles between $0.50 to $2 a piece. Friends and family might also have leftover puzzles that they’re willing to give you for free. But if you have some money to spend, there are plenty of options online for you to buy puzzles of your kids’ favorite characters. There are also 3D puzzles, too.
Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive. Over the past year, Dollar Tree has really expanded their craft section to include most of what you could find in a typical craft store. This is perfect if you’re looking for something to keep your kids occupied for just a few dollars. Most major craft store chains like Michael’s, Joanne Fabrics, and Hobby Lobby also have very affordable options for under $10.
If you want to get inspired,Check Out These Creative Dollar Tree Craft Ideas. We already made a huge list of amazing suggestions that you can complete for under $10. Most of the time, you’ll be able to find many of these objects around your house, and purchase extra products for just a few dollars each.
For a lot of people, building a gingerbread house in December is one of their favorite pastimes. Nowadays, there are a lot of options out there on the market. You don’t even necessarily have to build a house from scratch, since stores like Target are offering Camper vans and other vehicle type gingerbread houses. Children especially love building gingerbread houses. It’s also the sort of project where you can either work together as a group, or by an individual gingerbread house for each of your kids so that they can have a little decorating session together.
Bakers can make the cookies from scratch, which gives you the ability to customize your gingerbread house to the next level. On Pinterest, there are patterns to help you make some amazing gingerbread house pieces to create designs you’d never find in the store. If your family is competitive, you might even want to have a little contest to see who can make the best gingerbread house.
If you already know how to knit or crochet, this is a great opportunity for you to pass on the skill to your children. Learning how to knit can give your children an outlet for their anxiety in the future. It’s also a very practical skill, since you will be learning how to make items that you can wear. Knitting a scarf is one of the most basic things that you can start out with. Yarn isn’t that expensive, especially if you buy it from somewhere like Walmart or your local craft store. I have even spotted some yarn at my local Dollar Tree recently for $1 per spool. For children, the accomplishment of knitting a scarf will give them a boost of confidence.
Once your kids get more comfortable with knitting, consider knitting holiday gifts for your family and friends together with your kids. This is especially great if you don’t have a lot of spare cash to buy presents this year. Your loved ones will still appreciate the gesture, and will most likely treasure it more than a store bought gift.
For some people, candy or caramel apples are a yearly tradition in the fall and winter. It’s actually very easy to make these on your own. Most large grocery stores sell kits for making your own candy apples, and they even include the lollipop sticks. All you really need is microwave, a bag of apples, and you’re ready to get started.
If your local grocery store doesn’t have the pre-made kits, you can easily find a caramel recipe online to make some on top of your stove from scratch. Even if your kids don’t normally like apples, they should have fun making and eating these.
This year has been so crazy, it might have slipped your mind to bring your pets to the vet or check in on their well-being. During these long winter months, your pets need attention too. If your pets don’t mind wearing outfits, consider getting them outdoor jackets, or even hitting them a sweater. Make sure they are happy and healthy. My cat, for example, started getting dandruff for the first time in her life, due to the cold, dry weather. So I’ve had to start making sure she eats more fish.
The winter time is especially difficult for pets who are used to running outside to play. And if you can’t visit friends or go to the dog park as often as before, they might be feeling a lot of pent up energy. And when their owners are depressed, pets can feel depressed, too. So make sure you buy them toys to keep them occupied, and give them indoor exercise. Playing with your pets will also alleviate stress. Encourage your kids to play with your pets as often as possible.
Homeschooling in 2020 has been very difficult for parents, so it’s understandable if that’s all you’ve had time for. However, remember that there is so much to life outside of school. Your kids should be learning basic life skills about saving money, making a budget, cutting the lawn, cleaning the house, and so much more. This needs to happen much easier than you would imagine. Kids learn their financial habits by the age of 7.
When I was a nanny and preschool teacher, I witnessed kids who knew how to clean up after themselves by age 3. I was shocked to see this, because my brothers grew up never being asked to clean the house by my parents until they were much older. The older your kids are when they start learning how to clean, the more difficult it will be for them to make it a habit. During these long winter months when there’s nothing else better to do, consider setting aside a day or two every weekend to learn a new skill. One day, your kids are going to look back on it and want to thank you for your effort.
Being stuck inside during the winter is the perfect opportunity for your kids to clean out their closet. This could be something fun, or something very difficult. If you approach this as if it’s exciting rather than a chore, your kids will pick up on your energy, and get excited too.
Before you get started, consider watching a TV show on Netflix like Tidying Up With Marie Kondo, or The Home Edit. This might get them excited to organize, too. When you’re putting some of the clothes in a “donate” pile, explain to them how much they’re helping other children have clothes to wear, especially now in a difficult time. This will help to make them feel good about their generosity and willingness to let things go.
Let’s face it. Kids love video games. Some parents use the iPad as a babysitter, but it doesn’t have to be. There are a lot of multiplayer games that you can play with your kids. Sometimes it’s possible to both be on the same iPad, but you can also download the same app on your phone while they’re logged in on their end. One of the most popular co-op games right now is called Among Us, which is very similar to the card game Mafia, only in video game form.
This is a great opportunity to listen to your kids explain why they love their favorite games, and they can teach you how to play. As adults, we don’t always take the time to show interest in what our kids love. Having fun with them almost always makes a relationship better. When you play together, this is also going to make it easier for you to tell them to turn it off. For example, if you can sit down to watch and play, say, “Once you defeat the next level, let’s turn this off, get our chores done, and make Christmas cookies.” Instead of commanding them to “do it now”, they will love that you understand and respect their game.
If your kids are in elementary school, they would have most likely made an ornament in art class to bring home with them. Since they can’t do that this year, you can pull together some simple supplies to make your own ornaments at home. You can make ornaments from popsicle sticks, clay, paper, and so much more.
Dollar Tree also has a big variety of DIY ornaments that already come with the little hole and string attachment. Some of them look like snow globes, which are one of the cutest DIY crafts I’ve seen in a while. One of the best kid ornaments to make is when they press their little handprints in clay. If you don’t already have one, check out this kit online.
This might sound overly simplistic, but simply watching the snowfall is actually a great pastime. Taking a moment to be quiet and enjoy nature can decrease your child’s level of stress and anxiety. This is a perfect pastime with a nice cup of hot cocoa, and a cuddly blanket. As simple as this sounds, your kids will remember the peace they felt when admiring the snow fall.
In today’s world, it’s all about instant gratification. There is very little time for anyone to just sit and slow down. In its own way, sitting and watching the snow is kind of like meditating. You’re just taking time to enjoy the beauty of nature for what it is. Encourage your kids to watch the snowfall for as long as they want. Or maybe encourage them to read a book while they sit on the windowsill.
3. Get Your Kids Involved With Buying Family Gifts
When you’re a busy parent, it’s all too easy to just do all of the holiday gift shopping online without a second thought. This year, your kids won’t be going to the mall with you to visit Santa, or experience holiday shopping as we once knew it. However, buying great gifts for people is actually a skill within itself. When your kids grow up, you want them to be thoughtful adults who think about the wants and needs of others.
For example, even though we’re all adults, my three brothers ask me what to buy for the people in their lives. As children, my mother really only spent time with me buying gifts for family members, because I was her only daughter. No matter what gender your child is, teach them about giving gifts, because it teaches them to pay attention to the needs of others. This will also strengthen their personal relationships, too.
During difficult times like this, it’s more important than ever to reach out to the people you love. Maybe you have already let your kids join you in a Facetime call with their grandparents and extended family. Even if they see their friends on a Zoom meeting for school, this isn’t the same as one-on-one conversations with their besties. Allow them to call their friends sometimes, and encourage them to reach out to people they love.
With so much isolation, it’s all too easy for your kids to fall into an antisocial pattern. Many parents are reporting that their children are already developing a fear of people. Psychologists report that as they grow up, they’re going to experience far more anxiety than the previous generation. The more you allow your children to reach out to the people they love, the stronger your relationships will be with those you care about. Knowing that they have the support of people who love them is going to help them get through this.
Last and certainly not least is that you should take some time to ask your kids about their future, if you haven’t done so already. What do they want to be when they grow up? So many people forget their childhood dreams, because society convinced them that it wasn’t possible. Instead of projecting your own hopes and dreams onto your child, pay attention to what gives them the most happiness. As Dr. Deepak Chopra says, “If a child is poor in math but good at tennis, most people would hire a math tutor. I would hire a tennis coach.” Everyone has special skills, and a destiny for what they were meant to do.
In the wintertime, this is a great time to let them create a Pinterest vision board of their future. Help them hone their goals, and help to facilitate their dreams. Guide your children on the steps they’ll need to take in order to achieve their dreams. For example, if they say that they want to be a doctor, explain that they need to get good grades in school, because one day they’ll need to go to medical school. This will encourage them to study and focus on their homeschooling.