30+ Boredom Busters

Quick fixes to entertain your stir-crazy kids this winter

As winter settles on Alaska, parents brace themselves for several months – inside – with the kids.
To avoid the dreaded cabin fever, here are plenty of fun and creative indoor activities to keep the kids entertained.

Help kids start a hobby. They may want to build model cars or start a stamp collection. Or they may want to learn a skill, like playing the guitar, dancing or knitting. Hobbies benefit children in numerous ways, such as busting stress and fostering creativity and a sense of competence.

Make a hat. Cut a strip of cardstock to fit round your tot’s head, then have her decorate it.

Freeze dance. Turn on the music and get moving! When the music is turned off, freeze like a statue. This one gets all ages giggling. If you’re playing with more than one, anyone who isn’t “frozen” when the music stops is “out” for a round. Take pics of the kids as soon as they freeze and show it to them! We guarantee that your cheeks will hurt from laughing.

Let the kids (and you!) have a fun night out. Check out one of these great Parent Night Out programs: Mystery Overnights in the Museum, Anchorage Museum; Parents’ Night Off, The Alaska Club (Anchorage, Eagle River and Wasilla); Friday Night Out at Aurora Kids (Anchorage); and Kids Night In at the Fairbanks Children’s Museum.

Create paper snowflakes. Have your children fold a piece of white paper in half three or four times and then cut small shapes from the sides. Once they unfold their snowflakes, give them glitter and glue sticks to decorate them. Use string to hang them around the house.

Ask a friend over. Children love to have a companion and they tend to entertain each other.

Make a snowy sensory bin. Too cold outside to play in the snow? Then bring the snow inside! Fill up a plastic tub (or sink or bath tub) with snow. Give kids a few scoopers, measuring cups, arctic animal figurines to add to the fun. Mix water and food coloring so the kids can “paint” the snow with brushes or spray bottles.

Feed the birds. Make a simple bird feeder with your kids by coating a pinecone with peanut butter, then rolling it in some bird seed. Hang your feeder outside and see which birds visit.

Create a photo scrapbook. Include all your adventures together this year. Let your kids write the captions.

Play cotton ball blow. Mark a start line and a finish line on the floor and give each child a cotton ball. The race is on as they try to blow their wad of fluff to the end the fastest. Too easy for older kids? Give them a straw or add some obstacles to the course, like a paper tube for the cotton balls to travel through.

Trace a child. Place butcher paper on the floor and have your child lie on it, trace her outline, and then let her color or paint it.

Make playdough. In a pan, mix together 2 cups of flour, 2 cups warm water, 1 cup salt, 2 Tbs vegetable oil, 1 Tbs cream of tartar (optional for improved elasticity). Cook over a low heat until formed and not too sticky. Knead in some food coloring (liquid, powder or unsweetened drink mix) and scented oils.

Gym time. Pile couch and chair cushions – or even bed mattresses – on the floor. If your toddler is just learning how to walk and balance, this activity will help to strengthen muscles and build stability. If your toddler has been toddling for a while, climbing and jumping off cushions will be a squealing treat that could last hours.

Form a band. Get out those spoons, bowls, and kitchen utensils and start banging.

Plan a puppet show. Find hand or finger puppets, or small dolls. Get a big appliance box; have the kids cut out an opening for the stage. Staple on a piece of cloth or towel for the curtain, paint the box to make it festive, tie on a few helium balloons, and have the kids present a show from inside the box.

Make a “sand” box. Put rice in a box, bucket, bowl or small plastic pool for a fun sensory tub. (Rice is great, but there are lots of other materials you can use – beans, oatmeal, etc. – so get creative!) Add some spoons, cups, funnels and anything else to make the experience fun, and let your little ones get to work.

Make homemade pizza. Ingredients for pizza dough: 1 package yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 1 cup warm water, 2 Tbs oil, 2 1/2 cups flour, 1 tsp salt. Dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water and add oil. Combine flour and salt. Pour yeast mixture over dry ingredients and mix. Let rest five minutes. Roll dough onto greased pan. Add favorite pizza toppings. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes.

Make crystal snowflakes. These snowflakes will last all winter long with this simple borax crystal growing recipe: Cut a white pipe cleaner into 3 equal sections and twist it together to make a 6-sided flake. Fill a wide jar or glass with boiling water. Mix in borax 1 Tbs at a time (3 Tbs per cup of water) and stir until it’s dissolved. Add food coloring, if desired. Hang the snowflake in the liquid, making sure it does not touch the sides or bottom of the jar. Set the jar where it won’t be disturbed and let the crystals grow overnight. The next day the kids will have a snowflake covered with tiny crystals.

Visit a museum. From art and history to science and creative play, there are a variety of interesting museums with hands-on exhibits geared toward kids, like the Anchorage Museum, Alaska Aviation Museum, Fairbanks Childrens Museum, and the Transportation Museum.

Get wet. Take swimming lessons or just splash around at an indoor pool.

Play light games. Carefully poke holes in the bottom of a paper cup to form a design. In a dark room, shine a flashlight into the cup to see the pattern that was created. Add colored cellophane for interest. Spin the cups to create a kaleidoscope effect.

Make cookies. Let the kids help with the entire process: mixing the batter, rolling out the dough, creating fun shapes with cookie cutters and decorating the cooled cookies with icing and candy sprinkles.

Make festive “trees.” Make a mini Christmas tree by painting a pinecone green. When it’s dry, dab it with glue and stick on mini pompoms to make tiny baubles. Make it “snowy” by pushing bits of cotton into the gaps.

Go on a bus ride. It doesn’t matter where to – it’s the adventure of the journey that counts!

Decorate the windows. Use washable window paint or dry erase markers.

Play “Follow my leader.” Your little one has to copy everything you do, jump up and down, pat your tummy, sit down, stand up, walk up stairs, walk like a bear, or put your slippers on your head. The sillier the better! Once she’s got the idea, let her lead you.

Create baking soda and vinegar art. Fill a shallow pan or plate with baking soda. Add food coloring to vinegar, and let your kids drip vinegar onto the baking soda. It’ll bubble and change, and kids will get a kick out of their creations.

Go DIY bowling. Line up some plastic cups or cans, grab a ball and throw for a strike.

Build a fort. Who doesn’t love a good fort? They can drape a bed sheet over chairs or other furniture, then crawl inside with flashlights and pretend they’re in a mountain cave or secret room. Offer props to enhance the play, like pillows, plush animals or toy cars. If you build it, they will come ... with imagination, excitement and even more ideas!

Play hopscotch – indoors. Grab some painter’s tape (it pulls off floors easily when they’re done playing) and create an indoor hopscotch board they can use to get from one side of the hallway to the other.

Create edible necklaces. String colorful “o” shaped cereal onto yarn (or use craft lace for easier threading). With no paint or glue required, they’re completely mess-free. Plus, they double as a treat, so kids will actually clean up after themselves for a change.

This list is just a start and maybe it helped spark another idea in you. What are YOUR boredom busters and quick fixes for cabin fever? Share your ideas on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/alaskaparent) or email us at info@alaskaparent.com.