With winter pressing down on us in Happy Valley, it's hibernation time. Small ones can't regulate their body temperatures well enough to endure long stretches of outside time. According to Parenting.com:
- Green Zone: 30 degrees or higher, safe to play in layers with hats & mittens
- Yellow Zone: 20-30 degrees, be cautious. Layer clothing, take a break every 30-40 minutes to go inside & warm up
- Red Zone: Below 20, not safe to play outside
We are firmly ensconced in the yellow zone with the red zone breathing down our necks. Being stuck inside all winter can make the kiddos (and parents!) go a bit stir crazy, so I like to have some great activities ready. My boys love science, arts, and crafts and our favorite winter mix-it-up experiment combines all three.
What you'll need:
1 Cookie Sheet per child, the kind with rimmed edges for spills
1 Pie Dish per child
1 Muffin Pan
1 Box of Baking Soda
1 Bottle of Vinegar
Medicine syringe or squeeze bottle
Food Coloring, your choice
I'm guessing you know where this is going, but this activity is so much fun for the kids. Put the pie plate on the cookie sheet and fill the pie plate with a layer of baking soda. Pour some vinegar into each of the muffin pans and add a few drops of whatever food coloring colors your kids want to try. Then give them the syringe to slurp up some of the colored vinegar. Let them loose on the baking soda. Your kids will love the bubbly patterns and swirls they can make with the different colors. They will want you to scrape the plate out and do it over and over again. Bonus: pour the used up baking soda into your stainless-steel sink for a nice scrubbing clean.
If you don't have a medicine syringe, you could probably use spoons or a little gravy ladle, but that might get MESSY! Any pharmacy will give you a syringe for free if you ask. To add to the fun, I like to take pictures of their creations before we wipe the plate for the next round.
Some other ideas:
- Puzzles, like the adorable ones you can find at The Animal Kingdom.
- Board games, even preschoolers can get in on games like Memory.
- Scavenger hunts, hide clues around the house to find a toy. Clues can be pictures for smaller kids.
- Break the rules, play ball inside. I've been known to move the cars from the garage, just to have a warm, outside play-zone! Basements work great for this, too!
If all else fails, just snuggle up with some hot cocoa, a new movie, and a plate of cookies. What do you do in the dead of winter to keep the kids from going stir-crazy?
Sara Spock Carlson is a mom of two amazing boys, wife, Penn State graduate, researcher, and freelance writer. When she’s not sipping coffee by the fire, she can be found crafting and painting with her boys or shopping for adorable deals at The Animal Kingdom.