Whether your child is home on holiday break or they are always home with you, mamas and papas all around are trying to think of creative ways to keep their kids engaged and entertained during the holiday excitement. These 10 Easy Homemade Winter Break Boredom Busters are simple, play based activities you can throw together in a snap using stuff you probably have hanging around your house! They are sure to get your child’s creative juices flowing and help ensure your sanity stays intact during the holiday hubbub. 

1. Homemade Calming Lavender Play Dough. Homemade play dough is really easy to make, so much softer than store brand, cheaper and often lasts longer! Children find endless ways to explore and play with play dough whether they are 2 or 12. Let them use your holiday cookie cutter to cut out festive shapes, give them pipe cleaners to stick into the dough, or let them figure out their own play! The aroma therapy of calming lavender is also bound to mellow them out while you finish that cup of (likely cold) coffee. 

 Image credit: Mommypotamus Image credit: Mommypotamus

2. Homemade Moon Sand. Is play dough not exciting enough for your kids? What about homemade moon sand? I bet you have all the stuff you need to make it kicking around in your cupboards! My students and daughter love this out-of-the-box sensory activity and stay engaged for long stretches of time when given spoons and bowls to explore it with. I like to keep my moon sand white for simplicity’s sake, but you can add natural food coloring to it to jazz it up a bit if you like. If you don’t have corn starch or arrowroot flour, you can try this similar recipe using regular flour. 

3. “Snowball” Toss Game. Chances are, you have a few cotton balls (or marshmallows) kicking around. And I’m pretty sure you have a few cups or bowls. If you have those simple and basic items, you can make a game for your bored kiddo to play while also practicing their hand-eye coordination!

4. Jingle Bell Freeze. Before you pack away those holiday decorations, use those festive jingle bells to play a fun game with your stir-crazy littles. We all remember the game of “Freeze” when we were young. You play music and dance your heart out until the music stops…and then if you moved, you were out of the game! This is the same concept, expect a bit more festive and older kids can run it for the youngers. Take the children outside (yes, even in the snow) and have them run run run their energy out while the bells ring. But the moment they stop, the kiddos better too or they are OUT! If you can’t get outside due to frigid temps or freezing rain, have them jump or dance. 

5. Mini Ice Rink.  Inspire that imaginative play with a dash of science! Use a baking dish to freeze water into a mini ice skate rink for you child’s toys. Add some extra fun by throwing random art supplies (like beads, pompoms, and ribbons) for a colorful freeze. Put a towel down and let the children play and observe as the ice melts.

6. Cardboard Play. I’m quite sure you have a few boxes kicking around after the holidays. Before you toss those suckers into the recycling bin, let the children have some fun with them! MyLifeandKids.com has a list of different ways your kiddos can transform the boxes you already have into hours of fun play.

7. Cranberry & Toothpick Structures. Are your kids builders? Or just love a challenge? Try out this simple but great STEM activity! It will get them engaged and problem solving with things that your probably already have in your kitchen! No cranberries? You can also use mini marshmallows to hold the toothpicks together. 

 Image credit: Growing A Jeweled Rose Image credit: Growing A Jeweled Rose

8. Snow Volcano. If you live in a place that has snow on the ground, you have got to make a snow volcano! Volcanoes are a simple and classic childhood experiment that uses materials kicking around your kitchen! Plus (and this is my favorite part) the mess stays outside and Mother Nature does the clean up for you!

9. Snow Painting. This is an activity I remember fondly from my own childhood in Maine. My mother would send me outside in the snow with water colors paints and the whole world became my canvas! You can also mix natural food coloring or water color in spray bottles and let the kids graffiti-up your yard! No worries, it’ll all wash away come spring or be covered up by the next snowfall. 

 Image credit: Create Art With Mrs. P Image credit: Create Art With Mrs. P

10. Salt Tray Drawing/Writing. So simple, yet so magical. A little salt in a baking sheet can provide children with a unique medium for creative play, drawing and writing. Whether they use their finger to draw, a paintbrush, or even a candy cane (you know you have lots of those hanging around right now), this is a simple activity to throw together in a flash! For a little extra fun, place their favorite color construction paper on the baking sheet before pouring the salt on so that the color pops through when they draw!

The possibilities for creative and play based activities to engage the natural learning in your child is truly endless. Just poke around your house and be open to new and exciting ways of using everyday objects! You’ll be amazed by what kiddos come up with on their own when they are given an open-ended activity that sets their imagination on fire!

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