HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
January 15, 2007, Herald Journal

Fun ideas for the family this season


We finally had it, what many children were waiting for (and to be honest me too) a good old Minnesota snowfall. It wasn’t even predicted, and sometimes that’s more fun.

Regardless of the amount of snow, as soon as we got just an inkling of it, my kids were out in it creating a snow fort, snow balls, snow angels, and snow people.

This year for Christmas, my children received snowball snow block makers, so it made the fun task of forming snowballs and snow blocks an interesting process.

Of course, just trampling through the snow is a wondrous activity in and of itself.

Living in a land with such seasonal changes certainly makes one appreciate each season and all it has to offer. Our young ones show their excitement and awesome wonder of each season’s uniqueness best. We need to see nature through the eyes of a child.

Sometimes, though, we can’t always get outside and spend as much time outside as we would like, but we want our children to be engaged in fun, creative activities inside as well.

Here are some reminders of mostly simple, yet family fun ideas to engage in:

• Pretend you are outdoors, and have a picnic on the floor. Put a blanket or tablecloth on the floor and enjoy a family picnic together.

• Put up your tent inside the house.

• Get a big refrigerator box and make a fort out of it. Most appliance stores are glad to give away their boxes. Children can then decorate their forts or castles and add windows and doors too.

• Make a fort out of chairs, blankets, pillows, clothespins, etc.

• Bring some of the outdoor toys into the basement. I recently brought a couple of ride-on toys into the basement for our youngest, so she could ride around and expend some energy indoors as well.

• Write or draw (depending on the child’s age) and decorate some thank-you cards for gifts received and send them off.

• Draw a picture for grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, etc. and send it to them. People appreciate this gesture.

• Play games together.

• Snuggle up and read together, maybe even inside the tent with a flashlight. Kids think this is cool.

• Listen to some children’s stories on tape or CD. If you don’t have any, the library is a good source.

• Set up a play date for the kids.

• Watch movies of your kids and family and eat popcorn together.

• Celebrate a pet’s birthday. Make decorations and bake a cake. Give the pet a special treat.

• Play with shaving cream on the table, a tray, or in the bathtub, but don’t use mentholated shaving cream.

• Put some flour, rice, salt or whatever you think appropriate in a cake pan and allow your child to play in it with fingers and even maybe some mini cars, trucks, and animals. (Suggestion: Put a table cloth or towel underneath to help catch the stuff that creeps out of the pan.)

• Bring a dishpan full snow (if there is some) inside and let the children play with it.

• Let kids take apart some safe broken appliance, bike, etc.

• Do some shadow dancing. Switch off the lights except for a lamp, turn on some music, dance and watch your shadows on the wall.

• Put some music on and dance.

• Play some children’s music and sing.

• Bake some cookies or make some instant pudding. Mix the pudding in closed container and allow the children to use the shake method to mix it. They enjoy shaking the pudding.

• Make a “crazy mixed up meal” and serve dessert first (the cookies or pudding)!

Some of these ideas were from a Glencoe/Silver Lake ECFE class my daughter and I took together, as well as “tried and true” activities.

“All the wisdom in the world cannot, by itself, replace intimate human ties, family ties, as the center of human development.”

—Selma H. Fraiberg,

author “Magic Years”