By Kim Robson
Summer is quickly drawing to a close, and Labor Day will be here before we blink. Before we know it, the days will be getting shorter and colder. A little later, there will be days when the kids are out of school, trapped in the house and bored out of their skulls. You can send them out in the snow to play, but eventually they’ll find their way back inside. Rather than resort to mind-numbing video games or movie watching, try out some of these ideas for creative indoor fun.
Indoor Blanket Fort:
When I was a kid, I LOVED making forts. There was something about hiding away in my own space. Great fun for sleepovers, too.
Step 1: Gather chairs, sheets, light blankets, pillows; and fasteners like clothespins, binder clips, rubber bands, and bungee cords. Arrange chairs to form the structure of the fort. You can also use the end of a bed, a table, the back of a couch, or hang sheets from curtain rods. Get creative with the room and furniture available.
Step 2: Drape sheets over chairs and secure with fasteners. Hold down edges with books. Leave an opening for getting in and out, and clip a pillow over the opening to make a “door.”
Step 3: Furnish the fort with blankets, pillows, a music player, games, books and snacks. Set up a battery powered lantern, electric candles or flashlights. Make “rooms” by hanging extra sheets inside the fort. An overturned cardboard box makes a good table.
Step 4: Invite friends over or host a stuffed animal brigade for company. Have fun pretending your fort is a pirate cave, bear den, clubhouse, castle, pirate ship, tea room, or anything else you want it to be. And remember, indoor forts are NOT just for children; they are for kids of ALL ages!
Red Yarn Laser Grid:
While an indoor fort can be set up for a few hours or a few days, this fun project would be great for an afternoon birthday party. We’ve all seen it in the movies: our hero must carefully negotiate his way through a complex grid of laser beams to reach his goal. Break one beam, and the whole security system is activated and the mission is a failure.
All you’ll need for your own laser grid is a roll of red yarn and some thumbtacks or masking tape. Select an out-of-the-way den or hallway for your laser grid. You don’t want it to be in a high traffic area or in front of a bathroom. Pin lengths of yarn across the space at random angles. Let the kids try getting through without touching any “laser beams.” You might want to get the video camera out to capture the hilarity.
Indoor Bowling Alley:
Still using plastic water bottles? Pull a few empties out of the recycle bin and set them up at the end of a hallway. Use a rubber ball for a “bowling ball.” If the bottles fall over too easily, partially fill them with water or dried beans.
Little kids love disco; no one knows why. They love to dance to it, too. Turn off the lights, close the blinds, and give each child a flashlight or glow stick and a small scarf to twirl around. Cue up some classics like “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, and “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor; and watch the disco magic unfold. Another candidate for some epic YouTube videos!
Pirate Treasure Hunt:
Just a Few More Ideas:
· Use masking tape to mark out a hopscotch grid in a hallway, or a gymnast’s balance beam on the floor.
· Pack a full-out picnic with blankets, pillows, and baskets of sandwiches, sippy drinks, raisins, string cheese, etc. Set up in the middle of the living room.
· Clear a room of breakables and declare a Pillow War!
· Play Simon Says.
· Make your own DIY PlayDough. All you need is water, flour, salt, cream of tartar, oil, and a pack of Jell-O.
· Make cookies. Get the kids involved with measuring and mixing.
· Reading a book aloud together is so much more interactive and interesting for both parent and child. Much better than just assigning a reading list.
So when winter arrives — and it will soon (Christmas, anyone?) — you can keep your kids’ minds and bodies active even when the weather outside is howling.