Jan Roberson: Winter Activities with Little Ones


Fall is wonderful. We drove to Minnesota recently and got a wonderful dose of fall color. I do love fall, but there is a sense of impending doom that comes with it! The time change brings early darkness; the days get shorter. The weather is greyer and cold…winter is coming. For moms with little ones, that is not always the most fun of seasons. You are all inside together, day after day. They get sick, you get sick, you all are cranky. Fun.

I thought perhaps it would be a good time to throw out some ideas for activities at home in the winter. I thoroughly enjoyed hearing Debbie Savik and Chloe Moore speak at our last MOPS meeting. So this is a little addendum to the joys of motherhood with some specific ideas to make it more joyful!

Do you ever notice how kids can have tons of the latest toys and still have “nothing to do”? I often have thought that less is more in regards to the collection of kids’ toys. Usually what children want is to interact with M.O.M. And often, what moms want is for their kids to entertain themselves for a while so they can get a break!

Here are some things that may take a little time on the front end for planning and engaging your kids, but also things that might engross them and stir their little imaginations.

  •  Do you have a wall or a space that you can paint with chalkboard paint and even undercoat with magnetic paint? Then you have a large space where they can use chalk and magnets. This way, they can draw and color and erase (all favorite things of preschoolers) AND push magnetic letters or shapes around.
  • Read some I SPY books from the library and then let them create their own I SPY scenarios.
  • When you have multiple kids (your own or someone else’s), kids love the “hide the object” game. You simply find a small recognizable object and hide it in one room. Then let them look until they are tired and begin to tell them if they are “hot” (close) or “cold” (far away). The one that finds it gets to hide it next.
  • Pillows! Make a nest, fort, house…with as many pillows as possible. Kids seem to like to rearrange these sorts of things, over and over again!
  • Painting. Paint on windows, old furniture, old large maps, a chair from the thrift store, mirrors. Children love the process of painting. Use water color, tempera or even craft acrylics.
  • Have a winter picnic in the living room with summer clothes, summer food, and summer books. Use a big lamp to be the sun, turn the heat up a little and enjoy your lemonade!
  • Go outside and pick up nature’s fall and winter “collections.” Leaves, berries, moss, pine needles, pine cones, whatever catches the eye. You don’t have to do anything with them, the looking and collecting is an adventure in itself for most little ones.
  • Sorting…such a great learning activity. Use an egg carton, several small bowls, boxes, or anything that makes sense to use for sorting. Kids can sort things in their own way…ask them why they sorted them that way. Use buttons (usually at fabric or craft stores in bulk), beads, rocks, shells, coins–anything small even to be held and sorted. (Of course, this is only for those who do not eat buttons and coins, etc.!)
  • Plan a treasure hunt or scavenger hunt. Draw pictures for the clues or items to find.
  • Take a walk. How many different sounds can you hear? How many different colors can you see”? How many different shapes can you identify? You could even take photos of the shapes and colors or numbers that you see. For very “littles,” you could ask them if they can hear or see a doggy or a truck-or whatever they could identify.
  • Sit on the floor with your kids in a circle and everyone’s feet spread out and touching. Roll a ball around and maybe introduce a couple more balls to the mix. This seems to be very entertaining (!) and also works hand/eye coordination.
  • Read or listen to a story and have the kids dance or do something silly every time they hear a certain word or phrase. This helps their attentiveness and listening skills.
  • Brighten dull days with little ideas…today we can only wear red socks; for lunch time, we can only whisper; on this walk, let’s tiptoe-skip-hop; let’s run around our house 3 times before lunch; today, teddy or dolly can eat at the table with us.
  • Bring them on over to my house and I will let them climb trees, dig in the dirt, and generally run around. Then they will come in and bang on pots and pans, have tea parties, and play with playmobiles. Have fun with your kids!

Jan Roberson has been a mentor in the Bigfork MOPS for 7 years. She has taught in public and private schools, homeschooled and has been a private tutor. Dan and Jan have two adult children, Caitlin and Nathaniel, and have lived in the Flathead Valley for more than 20 years.

photo credit: horizontal.integration via photopin cc