By: Cristina Moreno, Bilingual Outreach Specialist, Penfield Children’s Center

Winter is here, and while snow days and a white Christmas may be a dream come true for many children, playing in the frigid cold or driving on messy streets are not an adult’s idea of fun. Chances are, if you live somewhere that gets to enjoy a true winter season, you will also get some days of wind chill advisories and winter storm warnings that can make venturing out to the car, let alone playing outside, unsafe. At first, younger children and toddlers might just enjoy being able to spend whole days at home with their parents or caregivers, but eventually the novelty wears off and the cabin fever sets in for adults and children alike. While older kids may be happy to sleep in, read books, or watch movies, toddlers and young children may require a little structure, and a lot of attention, in order to avoid meltdowns or having your house turned upside down.

If you are facing the prospect of yet another weekend that is too cold to go anywhere other than from your bedroom to the living room, stock up on food and snacks ahead of time and try a few of these fun ideas that can (hopefully) help your young child, or children, use up some energy so you can enjoy a cup of hot chocolate and your favorite show or book come nap time.

Get crafty:

Put a box together full of fun art and craft supplies like ribbon, construction paper, stickers, glitter, stencils, etc., and keep it put away for a rainy or snowy day. Pick a simple craft that you can help your child put together or teach them to do on their own. Because the box of supplies is only brought out on special days, it may make it more enticing to your child and keep her attention longer than her typical paper and crayons. I remember when I first learned how to fold paper into a card and add in little details that made it “pop up,” I wanted to make cards for everyone I knew. This might be a good opportunity for your child to make some nice handmade Valentine’s Day cards for her class or turn her handprints into works of art to give to her grandparents or other family members.

Get cooking:

While your young child asking to help with dinnertime might be out of the question on rushed weeknights, a snowy afternoon when you have nowhere else to go may be the perfect time to indulge her. You can have your little helper assist with mixing ingredients, or even measuring quantities, and of course tasting. Kneading dough can be a good arm workout for her (and you), so maybe making crust for homemade pizzas or tortillas right before nap time could be a win-win situation. You can also make play dough using just a few ingredients in your kitchen and let her knead and “cook” with her dough while you work on your own cooking. You can find a video on how to make easy homemade play dough right here! (

Get moving:

Is your child starting to really get antsy? Play a game that will get her moving! Maybe she has to dance to a song and freeze when the music stops, or play an indoor version of hopscotch. You can also make new rules for her favorite board games, such as having to touch her toes when she lands on a green space in Candy Land, or hop up and down when she lands on a red space. Even if you usually try to limit your child’s screen time, there are days you might consider making an exception, and Go Noodle may just be perfect for those days! Go Noodle ( is a free online program that provides learning opportunities through music and movement. You may get tired of hearing Go Noodle’s silly songs, but it will be sure to keep your child entertained and dancing long enough for you to take a breather from all the toe touches, jumping jacks, and dough kneading!

How do you keep your child entertained and help him/her use up energy when you are stuck indoors?

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