When summer arrived, I breathed a sigh of relief while sipping a big ol’ glass of ice tea as I banished my kids outdoors to play. All summer long, my kids would be outside making forts, sponge bombs, and riding bikes. As a work at home mom, this meant sweet sanity for me. But the leaves are changing–falling down to the cooler shivering temperatures forcing us inside as snow blankets the ground.
Needless to say, it forced me to get pretty creative in terms of entertaining all three of my kids (15, 8, 6). Below is a roster of activities to delight kids of all ages. All you need are a few simple, inexpensive supplies and today’s feature is DIY LAVA LAMPS plus 40 more cabin fever ideas guaranteed to keep your kids busy and saving your sanity at the same time!
DIY LAVA LAMPS
Inspire your little scientists with just a few household supplies and watch this activity keep your kids busy for hours or until the Alka Seltzer tabs run out! This activity was featured on Nebraska.tv.
- Plastic Bottles (Any kind will do, remove label)
- Vegetable Oil
- Water Food Coloring
1. Fill your bottle about two-thirds of the way with oil and the rest of the way with water, leaving about an inch free at the top.NOTE: We liked watching the water layer sink to the bottom, but we had to wait a while for the bubbles to disappear for the next step.
2 Add several drops of food coloring. (If you added water first, it’ll take a little while for the drops of food coloring to “break through” and tint the water.)
3. Break an Alka-Seltzer tablet into three or four pieces. Then drop a piece in and watch the magic.
4. As soon as the tablet hits the layer of water, it will start to fizz and the colored water will erupt!
5. The bubbles will stop as soon as the tablet dissipates, but they’ll will start up again as soon as you add another tablet. If the oil layers starts to become cloudy with tiny bubbles, just let it settle for a while. Then you can do some more.
More Indoor Sanity Savers!
1. Board a Plane
Click here for printable air plane tickets and security passes: Printable Airplane Tickets & Passes
Click here for printable air plane tickets and security passes: Printable Airplane Tickets & Passes
Items needed: Homemade tickets, chairs to create rows, toys to be passengers, snacks. DVD player–optional.
Line up your dinning room chairs and ask your children to collect favorite toy characters like Handy Manny, Elmo, and Stitch. In your best airplane voice, ask all passengers to board flight 1522 headed to Newcastle, Wyoming. Then collect their tickets.
Tips: To make this more fun, create tickets ahead of time and add a mini dvd player to watch movies “in flight”, complete the flight with snacks.
Let your kids invade the fridge and play restaurant with a fun printable menu plus a printable check! Printable Menu & Check.
We usually make this in the summer — outdoors but it has become an indoor favorite too. For hours of fun, FLARP glows in the dark, makes fart noises and is squishy fun. NOTE: It is non-stick which should leave you worry free about what it sticks to!! Click here for FLARP HOW TO’S.
4. Bouncy Balls
Another fun crafty experiment which will keep your kids from bouncing off the walls as they bounce their balls! This was one of my first posts on my blog! Click here for instructions and fun with Home Made Bouncy Balls.
5. Thankful Cards & Turkey Bingo
Turkey Day is just around the corner which means it’s a great time to play Turkey Bingo and create Thankful cards. Click here for instructions for both. Turkey Bingo & Thankful Cards.
6. DIY T-Shirt Bags
Great for library books or trick or treating, click here for DIY T-SHIRT BAG instructions.
7. Spider Web with Painter’s Tape
This craft needs no explanations. Easy, simple, my son and his friends LOVE it. Give your kids painter’s tape, hanging it at different angles. Then have them toss little newspaper balls at it!
Need more Snow Day Ideas? Have no fear, here is a quick list from an old post, I brought it all here for you to pin or print to keep handy. 🙂
8. Make Use of the Snow
Might as well embrace the snow. Toss your kiddos outside with a shovel and have them shovel the driveway and sidewalks. If they have extra energy and can stand the cold, suggest they shovel the neighbor’s drive way too.
9. Hot Coco Magic
Provide your kids with bowls, scoop up the snow and add it to your sauce pan. They will love watching it melt into chocolately goodness on the stove top with you.
10. Maple Syrup Goodness
This makes another sweet snack for your kids. Boil real maple syrup for 10 minutes, stirring often. Then carefully take the syrup outside. Have your kids find a smooth, clean area and pour the syrup into the snow. Have fun and draw your kids names in the snow with it. Just be sure the syrup has cooled before picking it up and nibbling on it. You can find another recipe at Family Go.Com
11. Snowman Marshmallows
Marshmallow snowmen: put three jumbo marshmallows on a plate to create the snowman’s body. Add chocolate chips for eyes and buttons and a butterscotch chip for the nose. Then, stick the whole thing in the microwave for about 7 seconds. Take out and attach thin pretzel sticks for arms. Then, enjoy this gooey treat!
12. Polar Express
Create a train like atmosphere with your furniture. Have your kids make train tickets. Then read the story and let their imagination take off. My kids love playing “train” or “Polar Train,” it’s similar to our plane idea above but this idea is magical near Christmas time.
13. Spa Day with DIY GEL Nails.
I have two girls, we round up our mani & pedi supplies and stake out a place near the fireplace. You can do this with your girls, paint toes and giving facials. For DIY Gel Nails at home, click here for the post. DIY GEL Nails on a dime.
14. Game On
Mostly boys? They love competition, consider a Wii tournament or Uno.
15. Make Snow Ice Cream
Scoop up snow in waffle cones or cups.
- 1/2 cups half & half or whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 4 cups of clean snow or shaved ice
Blend the milk, sugar and vanilla together until the sugar dissolves. Mix 4 cups of snow & stir until you get the same consistency of ice cream. Add toppings or chocolate syrup to make a Snowy Sundae!
Here’s more about homemade ice cream.
16. Have an indoor picnic
Who needs a table and nice cooked meals? Make cookies and other finger foods ahead of time and let your kids decide where (within reason) to picnic.
17. Make homemade play dough
1 cup flour 1/2 cup salt 2 tbsp. cream of tartar 2 tbsp. oil 1 cup water food coloring (optional) Scent (cinnamon, vanilla, mint, etc. – also optional)
In a saucepan, mix flour, salt, cream of tartar, scent ingredient, and oil. Slowly mix in water until it’s all smooth. Then turn the heat on medium and stir until it forms a ball of dough. I used a heat-resistant rubber spatula so I could scrape the bottom of the pan easily. Once it’s a ball, plop it onto some wax paper until it’s cool enough for you to touch.
Here are six other recipes for play dough
18. Make homemade finger paints ( I found this one at Thrifty Fun)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/3 cup of cornstarch
- 2 cups water
- 1/4 cup dishwashing soap
- food coloring
Put the sugar and cornstarch in a saucepan and then slowly mix in cold water. Then cook the mixture over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring constantly until you have a smooth gel. Let cool and then add dishwashing soap. Divide into as many containers as you would like colors and then mix in food coloring drops until you have you desired color. If you have colored dishwashing soap that can influence all the colors you try to create, which isn’t always a bad thing. Here’s another recipe for finger paint.
If homemade paints is for the birds, simply break out your store bought paints and let them go to town on creating. If you’re really brave, let them add glitter to their masterpieces.
19. Taffy Time
Have a Taffy Pull in your kitchen with your kids. I remember doing this every Christmas with my grandma. I may have to purchase some supplies and do it. You can find the directions here: Berkshire Cottage.
20. Indoor Snow Castles
My kids love this but be prepared for a little bit of mess. Bring in your kiddie pool and add buckets of snow. Provide your kids with their sand making supplies. OR add the snow to your tub. I like the tub, easier and less mess.
21. Color Free Printables
There just isn’t enough time in the day to be creative. Consider finding free printable coloring pages for your kids. Most sites like Nick Jr, Disney, etc have printables.
22. Computer time
There are several sites online for your child’s education use and fun. We use ABC Mouse and Starfall.com, Other sites we like are Nick Jr and PBS Kids.
23. Snow Fun
There is always the best traditions of snow angels and snow ball fights. Take pictures and capture the moments.
24. Snow Fort
Too cold to go outside? Make a fort inside, using blankets and pillows, watch a movie from the fort!
24. Melted Crayon’s, Funnel Hearts and more.
V-day just passed and chances are you still have some left over supplies from making those crafts. Here is another list of 14 crafts you can do with your kids, including Tic Tac Toe with hearts. Valentine Ideas for your Kids. Or Natural Valentine Ideas
25. Fashion Shoot
Hang up some sparkly sheets and beads, add tulle or anything fun fabric, then have your girls dress up in their favorite costumes and have a fashion shoot!
25. Sock Toss
My kids loved the sock toss when they were toddlers. Arrange baskets, buckets, or paper bags in the middle of your living room floor, stuff socks into balls. Whoever gets the most socks in the baskets wins. (Or make a sock fishing game like we did here.)
26. Science Fun!
Satisfy your pint-sized scientist. Volcano, rockets, super gel. Most of the stuff is made from things already in your house. Just check it out here.
27. Make some cookies!
- 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 1 egg
Cream the butter & sugar. Add eggs & Vanilla. Add the rest. Bake at 375 for 8-10 minutes. YUMMY!
28. Skype Grandma and Grandpa
Do you have a Skype account? Facebook? Google Plus? All of them have video chats now. And if you can’t video chat, just call! Grandma and grandpa would LOVE to hear from their grandkids!!
29. Bring the snow INSIDE!!
Grab a few buckets of snow and put it in the bathtub. Have your kids put on gloves and go to town. The mess is minimal and the fun is maximum! Plus, you don’t have to worry about kiddos getting too cold!
30. Feed the birds!
When it is snowing the birds have a harder time finding food. Now’s your chance to help out and give the kids an educational something to do! You can roll a toilet paper or papertowel holder with peanut butter and popcorn (or bird seed if you have some) or check out these other ways to make simple feeders. Or you can check out how we used gelatin to make a feeder.
31. Masking Tape City
Have kids who love cars? Get them started on a living room city project. The tape outlines the streets. Then the cars can drive around and even up and over some couches, chairs and such.
32. Octopus Spaghetti Use hot dogs and spaghetti. Mix with cheese. All kinds of kid fun. **If it is cold: FREEZE BUBBLES!!
33. Moon Sand!!
Baby oil + flour. COOL! You can see some pictures here.
34. Read a Book from your library.
No – Don’t go out in the snow. But you CAN check out books from your library on your tables or iPad!! You may have to log on to their web site or call for directions.
35. Treasure hunt!!
Hide something in your house. Then post clues for your kids to find them.
OR – just play ‘hot’ and ‘cold’ telling your kids they’re getting ‘warmer’ when they’re getting closer… and ‘colder’ when they’re walking away from the ‘treasure’
OR – Have one of your older kids hide a treasure and draw a ‘map’ of how to find it.
Use coffee filters. They’re pre-cut in circles. Just fold them in half and half again. Then cut out some circles and triangles.
37. When you’re ready to go outside – Make some art!
A couple squirts of food coloring in a squirt bottle or squirt gun and then send the kids outside in the snow to ‘paint’ the snow. This is also fun for decorating snowmen and women.
(inside) Put a piece of paper on a cookie sheet, pile snow on top of it, then squeeze a few drops of color on the top of the paint. When the snow melts, you’ll have a neat water color picture!
38. Frozen Paint!!
If you have paint, set it outside (or in your freezer) overnight to freeze it! Then kids can color with the frozen paint.
39. Popsicle Catapult
Visit Science Sparks for the directions on making this bad boy!
40. DIY Snow Globes
Parents magazine had a fantastic idea to make snow globes. Simply glue a figurine to a lid, add some glitter and baby oil–BAM–you have a snow globe. For directions, click here: Parents.com.
Photo by Kendra Clineff / Parents.com