Keeping kids entertained inside during winter

Check out these ideas to help keep you and your little ones busy, stimulated and entertained inside over the winter months. Fun things you can do together when the weather turns cold and wet. The activities have been separated into approximate age groups, but some activities are great for all ages to try.
Check out these ideas to help keep you and your little ones busy, stimulated and entertained inside over the winter months.

Fun things you can do together when the weather turns cold and wet.

The activities have been separated into approximate age groups, but some activities are great for all ages to try.

Babies 0 - 6 months

Baby massage
  • Baby massage is a great way to aid digestion, circulation, muscle tone, spatial awareness and a lovely bonding time between you and your baby. Ensure you have a warm room, try massaging after a feed, use warm compressed oil (e.g. almond oil), play gentle music and use a firm touch.
Eye tracking exercises
  • Eyes need to exercise too! To get your baby’s eyes moving, place them on their back and blow bubbles (make sure they are non-toxic), drop feathers slowly in front of them from above or bring your face in close and then far away, then from side to side. These activities will encourage your baby to use their eyes and track your face or the feathers as they move.
Host a coffee group
  • Host a coffee group at home or at a local café. Spending time with other babies is wonderful for both your emotional and social well-being and for your baby.
Rotate toys
  • Pack some of your baby’s toys away so you can bring out ‘new’ toys from time to time to help keep them stimulated. Or why not organise a toy swap with your coffee group or with friends and neighbours who have kids of a similar age.
Read read read
  • Read every day to your baby from birth (even before birth). Mem Fox - a noted Australian author advocates reading three books aloud a day to your child and they will have all the skills to be confident readers by the time they reach school. Babies love books with real photographs, particularly of people’s faces.
  • Music can be very soothing for babies. Vivaldi, Bach and Handel’s music is written at the same speed as a human heartbeat.

Babies 6 - 12  months

  • Bath your little one in the middle of the day. Water play is a wonderful experience for young children. Ensure the entire base of your bath is covered with a non-slip mat and double the fun by getting in with them. Pouring jugs, wooden spoons and bubbles all add to the excitement.

Crawling games
  • Set up some crawling games and create obstacle courses by placing large cardboard boxes in doorways to make tunnels. Or try covering your dining room table with a large sheet to make a tent.

Baby signing
  • Look at attending baby signing classes or teach yourself at home. It's a great way to learn to communicate with your little one. Babies can learn simple signs for common words such as ‘eat’, ‘dad’, ‘cat’ and ‘book’ before they can actually speak them.

Toddlers 12 - 24 months

Release grip games
  • Children enjoy dropping or releasing objects. Extend this by posting items in neighbours' letterboxes, working with shape sorters, making your own posting boxes or try filling an empty tissue box with interesting items such as silk scarves, leaves, muslin cloths or tissue paper.

Make some playdough
  • Make your own playdough. Excellent for fine motor development, creativity and imaginative play.

Visit a toy library
  • Investigate joining a Toy Library in your area. Toy Libraries throughout New Zealand stock a huge range of toys, games, puzzles and dress ups which will help your children develop their imagination, encourage sharing and also teach them the skills they need to improve their reading and maths once they are at school.

Young Children 2-3 years

  • Young kids love baking and it provides so many learning opportunities; counting with weights and measures; science by mixing liquids and solids; tactile experiences when kneading the dough. Simple recipes like pikelets, cupcakes, scones and pizzas all work well with young children.

Indoor obstacle course
  • Use pillows, blankets, chairs and tunnels to make an obstacle course around the house. Challenge your child to get from one room to another without touching the carpet.
Walking in the rain
  • Who said you had to stay inside the whole time when it’s a wet day! Find the gumboots, umbrellas, rain coats and splash in the puddles or head out for a walk to the postbox, dairy, library or countryside.

Young children 3 - 5 years

Letter day
  • Choose a letter for the day and focus everything on that letter. For example, for the letter ‘P’, wear purple, eat potatoes, visit the park etc.
Dress ups
  • Dress ups are lots of fun. Use dad’s ties, mums shoes, jewellery, wigs, aprons whatever you have around the house. Or how about dressing up as a superhero, a farmer, bus driver, scientist, teacher or other favourite characters.
Arts & crafts toolbox
  • Fill a fishing tackle box with paint pots and art supplies, googly eyes, pipe cleaners, glitter, glue, a stapler and scissors. Using some coloured paper or cardboard, come up with some fun creations.
Snow angels
  • Buy a big bottle of talcum powder and after being bathed and dried ask your little one to lay down on the carpet and sprinkle talcum powder all over their body. When they jump up they will see their silhouette like a snow angel. See what other shapes you can make.
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