Monday, February 7, 2011

100 Free or Cheap Family Activities for Winter

Winter brings with it snow, hot chocolate, fires and CABIN FEVER! 

In an effort to direct all the pent up energy my children have, I made a list of 100 free or inexpensive activities for us to do.  I hope they inspire you to spend quality time together as a family.

  1. Cook popcorn on top of the stove.  Provide a few add-ons like shredded cheese, M&Ms, nuts, or chocolate chips to give it a special touch.
  2. Paint pictures on heavy paper with water colors.
  3. Paper wad war!!  (Use scrap paper or paper from your recycle bin.)
  4. Nerf dart gun war!!  
  5. Work a 1000 piece puzzle.
  6. Cook Snickerdoodle cookies.
  7. Play a classic board game (Sorry, Clue, Chutes & Ladders, Candyland, Monopoly just to name a few).
  8. Pillow fight!!!
  9. Build a snowman.  Think creatively.  It can be 6 inches tall, look kind of like Jobba the Hut, or be have a red scarf.
  10. Watch a movie marathon.  Anne of Green Gables, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, 80s movies, Little House on the Prairie, Lord of the Rings, Disney Princesses, or Toy Story would all make great movie marathons on a dreary winter day.
  11. Play shadow puppets in a dark room with a lamp or flashlight.  Then make stick puppets from your shadows.
  12. Read aloud a classic children's book.
  13. Color in a coloring book.  Our local dollar store has seasonal coloring books.
  14. Build a house with Lincoln Logs.
  15. Snowball fight!!!
  16. Cook chocolate chip pancakes for supper.
  17. Attend a free children's craft/building clinic at Lowe's or Home Depot.
  18. Play with the Thomas the Tank Engine table at Barnes and Noble.  Check out the clearance table for good books while you're there.
  19. Make homemade finger paint and create self-portraits.
  20. Play a card game. (Go Fish!, Old Maid, Skip-Bo, Uno)
  21. Plan a Backward Day.  Wear your clothes backward and do things backward or in reverse order.
  22. Visit your local library and check out books.
  23. Melt broken crayons together to create fun swirled crayons to use for coloring.
  24. Build cars, houses, or space ships with Legos.
  25. Drink hot chocolate.
  26. Build a house of cards.
  27. Write a story together.
  28. Illustrate your story.
  29. Work a crossword puzzle.
  30. Take a walk through a state park and look for animal tracks.
  31. Play trashcan basketball with an empty trashcan and paper wads.
  32. Cook homemade personal-sized pizzas.  Let each person choose their toppings.
  33. Write a short skit together.
  34. Video your skit performance.
  35. Host a game night with friends.
  36. Skype with friends or family.
  37. Draw outlines of each family member on left over wrapping paper or butcher paper.  Decorate your paper person and then sticky tack to the wall.
  38. Make snow ice cream.
  39. Watch old home movies.
  40. Play with a doll house.
  41. Visit a consignment or second hand stroe and buy wacky clothes to wear for Wacky Wednesday.
  42. Host a Wacky Wednesday Party.  Wear crazy clothes.  Serve drinks in bowls and food in cups.  Just make it wacky.
  43. Build a blanket fort.
  44. Memorize a poem together.
  45. Tour a local green house.
  46. Make your own bowling pins.  Play a game.
  47. Play "I Spy."
  48. Bake chocolate chip cookies.
  49. Make your own scavenger hunt list.  Divide into teams and visit a local mall armed with a camera for each team.  Take photos of a team member with each item on the list.
  50. Tour a local museum.
  51. Play hide and seek.
  52. Make cards to mail to grandparents or friends.
  53. Complete a Word Search puzzle.
  54. Plan your spring break vacation.  Request tourist brochures and travel guides for your stay-cation or getaway.
  55. Host a cowboy party.  Dress up.  Eat chili.  Watch a John Wayne movie.
  56. Play indoor volleyball with a line of chairs and inflated balloon.
  57. Make and eat s'mores.
  58. Create your own board game.
  59. Play Charades.
  60. Play Simon Says.
  61. Play Pictionary.
  62. Read several children's picture books about a historical figure.
  63. Make and fly paper airplanes.
  64. Have a taste test with salsa, ketchup, or other condiments.
  65. Visit your local zoo. (Admission might be 1/2 priced through February.
  66. Celebrate Squirrel Appreciation Day (January 21).
  67. Read a joke book aloud.
  68. Bake homemade cinnamon rolls.
  69. Get all dressed up and take glamorous pictures of each other.
  70. Make a paper mache mask.
  71. Build a race car with a box.
  72. Sign up for a free month of Netflix.
  73. Create your own crossword puzzle.
  74. Hold a family dance in your living room.
  75. Host a Tropical Cruise party.  Invite guests to wear their Hawaiian shirts, make paper leis, and drink fruit punch.
  76. Rearrange the furniture in the living room or a bedroom.
  77. Make a scrapbook or photo album from Christmas pictures.
  78. Build a birdhouse for spring.
  79. Start seeds for spring planting.
  80. Grow bean sprouts.
  81. Make homemade play dough.
  82. Cut out pictures from magazines and make a college of "My Favorite Things."
  83. Listen to The Chronicles of Narnia on CD.
  84. Make a list of free days at local attractions. (Often area business will sponsor the 1st or last Saturday of the month.
  85. Race matchbox cars.
  86. Turn large boxes (appliances or something similar) into houses, rockets or anything else.
  87. Check out a how to drawing book from your local library.  Practice drawing animals or insects.
  88. Make sock puppets.
  89. Celebrate a Space Shuttle launch (February 3 and 4, 2011).
  90. Celebrate National Tortilla Chip Day by making homemade salsa to go with your chips. (February 24)
  91. Celebrate National Napping Day (March 9).  Take a nap, read a book about sleeping animals or spend the day in your pajamas.
  92. Challenge family members to a Wii bowling tournament.
  93. Bake homemade peanut butter cookies.
  94. Listen to Adventures in Odyssey Radio Drama.
  95. Listen to The Secret Garden by Focus on the Family Radio Theatre.
  96. Go sledding.
  97. Make a countdown to Spring Break paper chain.  Remove one link everyday.
  98. Read magazines at your local library.
  99. Make milk jug bird feeders.
  100. Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count.
Did I forget your favorite winter family activity?  Please share it with us!!

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    Unknown said...

    I'm putting "National Napping Day" on my calendar and no one will stop me from celebrating it, LOL!

    Stephanie Kay said...

    Crystal, I think that's my favorite one!! :)

    Anonymous said...

    Chronicles of Narnia? Do you like audio dramas for your kids? There is Billy Brown for smaller children from Giddio.

    Stephanie Kay said...

    Anonymous, we enjoy audio dramas a great deal. ESPECIALLY for road trips! My husband read the Chronicles of Narnia series with my children last year. My younger kids weren't all that interested but my oldest (7 years) really latched on to the series. He has read them all many times and loves to listen to the audio drama.

    I'm not familiar with Billy Brown or Giddio but they look cute.

    Amy said...

    Great ideas! Love the "make a crossword puzzle" idea...I'm planning to use that sometime soon! :) I think you got our favorites...we're pretty low key in the winter and LOVE snowdays!

    april tindall said...

    You have officially TOPPED my list of favorite people! This is amazing... Rodney and I were just making a list yesterday to prep for the big snow, we hit about 20... and most of these are NOT on our list. :) THANKS!!!

    Erin Terry said...

    Thanks for linking to my bowling pins! Wonderful list!

    Katie @ said...

    Oh my gosh! This list is absolutely incredible. It brought back so many memories of things my family used to do all winter long. Awesome!

    oneordinaryday said...

    This is an excellent list. I'm tickled to be part of it! And I'm also pretty pleased that we do lots of these things already, but I'm always happy to find more great ideas. Thanks!

    Stephanie Kay said...

    Thanks, ladies! I'm glad my list has inspired you.

    One Ordinary Day, you can never have too many creative ideas in your mama "toolbox!"

    Stephanie Kay said...

    Thanks, Katie! I love doing simple and inexpensive activities with my kids. Some of my best childhood memories were simply things like building snowmen and blanket forts. Sounds like you have those kind of memories, too.

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