Activities to entertain kids in winter

Winter sees families staying indoors to keep warm and out of the rain, but keeping the kids busy and entertained can be a difficult task. 

Here are a few fun, free or cheap ideas for indoor play activities that will keep the kids warm, cosy and having a great time in the cooler months.

1. Build a tent/cubby house: use bed sheets, pegs and chairs and tables. Make it super cosy inside with pillows and rugs and all the soft toys your kids can gather.

brothers playdough
brothers playdough 

2. Play a “hot and cold” treasure hunt: hide some fun treats or their toys around the house and play a game of hot or cold, saying “cold/cooler/warmer/hot” depending on how close they are to the item, working your way up to “boiling hot” as they almost touch it.  

3. Baking: get ready to get messy and have some fun. Get the little ones involved in measuring and mixing, and the very important job of licking the bowl! Once the goodies are baked, host a tea party and invite all the toys. Visit the Essential Kids recipe section to find yummy biscuits and cakes to make.

4.  Play dough and cloud dough: these are great sensory and imaginative play activities. Check out this Essential Baby forum thread for a play dough recipe (there’s even a gluten-free version), or this blog for a cloud dough recipe. These are lots of fun and so easy to clean up.

5. Cardboard box: what can’t you do with a big box? It’s a boat, a car, a hiding spot, a stage for dolls, a bed for toys, a drum … the only limit is your imagination!

6. Balloon tennis: play this fun indoor game with a paper plate taped to a ruler to make each racquets, then use a balloon for a ball. Remember to remove any breakable items from reach first!


7. Pasta games: pasta isn’t just for eating - it’s also a great craft ingredient. You can make a necklace with a handful of tube shapes over a piece of wool or pipe cleaners, stick them to paper or cardboard and then decorate with paints and glitter, or even dying them into different colours.

8. Clothesline contest games: string up a clothesline inside between chairs or table legs, grab a bunch of socks and lots of pegs, then make up games that involve hanging them all up (eg, who can hang the socks in pairs the quickest, or grouping them by colour or length).

9. Shaving foam activities: for a different type of sensory experience, give your child a tray and let them ‘draw’ with shaving foam, make little snowmen, or just have fun feeling it. You can also add a drop or two of food colouring to the foam.

10. Newspaper ball games: playing with a ball inside the house is usually a big no-no, but try using a crumpled up newspaper ball to toss around. You can aim it a target or try to get it into a basket, or compete to see who can throw it the furthest (or even the highest).

There are lots of activities for toddlers and preschoolers at Essential Kids - you can download and print sheets for colouring in, matching, mazes, spot the difference and lots more.