I live in Minnesota, where snowy forecasts threaten and chapped lips are a way of life.
Despite a desire for a little more elbow room, I simply cannot bring myself to banish my children out to the frozen tundra on restless January afternoons.
So, I, with many other hearty Midwest parents, have been forced to plan creative indoor activities, thereby saving our kids’ eyes from electronic combustion.
Here are three indoor activities to offer your children — and if the parents play along, the fun rate exponentially increases…
Puzzles may look like a simple, slow activity, but working jigsaw puzzles is actually a brain-building, skill-building pastime. Jigsaw puzzles enhance problem-solving skills, improve learning, support social interaction, and generate a feeling of accomplishment.
Puzzles are an absorbing, therapeutic activity that can last days or weeks. If you have a spare table where a puzzle-in-progress can stay available, this is optimum. (We don’t; we just let the puzzle take over the dining room table until it’s completed.)
Jigsaw puzzles are great for many ages (but not all — watch those tiny pieces and keep your babies away.) Puzzles are beneficial for older people, too; they stimulate the brain and may delay the onset of dementia.
Although audiobooks shouldn’t take the place of visual reading, audiobooks have their own unique benefits. Kids love being read to (adults do, too) and audiobooks are becoming popular and widely available.
Audiobooks are a worthy activity because they:
- build listening skills
- improve attention span
- enhance critical thinking skills
Kids can listen to audiobooks while they draw, build, or work puzzles. Audiobooks are also great for car trips — long or short.
Young readers can listen to an audiobook while they read along with the print version and reluctant readers who aren’t enthusiastic about print books can be wooed into a love of reading with audiobooks. (True story.)
Audiobook narrators are usually awesome, and they transport a child right into the pages of the book. Some of our favorite audiobooks for kids include:
- Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Mysteries
- A-Z Mysteries
- Chronicles of Narnia
- Mysterious Benedict Society Series
- Best Christmas Pageant Ever
Note: We listened to three (Hardy Boys) audiobooks while we worked the Ocean Life puzzle shown at the beginning of this post.
Okay, this one was dredged up from my childhood math class (thank you, Mr. Kesti) and it’s more educational than it is pure fun. But, approached creatively, Krypto can be a pleasant addition to your indoor arsenal of activities.
There is a commercial version of Krypto, but this is how we play it at home, without buying the game:
- Choose 5 cards from a joker-less deck of cards.
- Write those numbers on a white board.
- Choose one more number and write it at the bottom.
Everyone looks at the board and tries to find a way to use all top 5 numbers to get the target number at the bottom.
You can add, subtract, multiply and divide the numbers until the target number is reached.
Example: 13 – 3 = 10….10 -7 = 3…5 – 3 = 2…2 x 1 = 2
This uses all of the numbers, and the result is the target number (2) at the bottom.
When someone arrives at the target number, she yells, “KRYPTO!” and demonstrates how she got the answer.
We keep track of points and play it regularly as part of our homeschooling routine.
If your kids take to it, you can plan a lively Krypto tournament.
With or without competition, you’ll have some fun and keep math skills sharp over the holidays. Krypto is also a great low-key summer activity – a great way to stay math-savvy over school break. For more explanation, here’s a Krypto video.
Whether you live where it’s cold, or just need some rainy day ideas, hopefully you will enjoy some of this indoor fun that keeps Minnesotans snowbound but smiling until March.
Make that April.
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