Stuck inside all day with your kids? Snow days are fun for kids, but they can be stressful for adults who are overwhelmed by the thought of entertaining their young children at home all day.
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. While you may start the day with grand plans of reorganizing or cooking, it might be all you can do to just get through the day. That's okay too.
Here are some ideas to help your little ones (and you!) have fun at home.
How to Play with Babies and Toddlers in the Cold
First, if there’s fresh snow on the ground, it’s a great time to get outside with your kids. Unless it's too cold, or you don’t have warm weather gear for them, take advantage of the unstructured time and play outside! Even if you get suited up and are outside for only a few minutes, call it a win (we all know toddlers like to poop, want snacks, and tantrum at the most inopportune moments). It might be the highlight of your day.
Some tips for safe snow play:
Toddlers who love helping will love having their own shovel or tools to help clear the walkways with you. Just make sure it’s size-appropriate so that they don’t get overly frustrated.
Sand toys or kitchen tools are great for scooping and dumping fresh snow. Just be aware that any metal will be very cold to the touch, plastic toys are preferred for this reason.
Babies younger than one year might not be able to play much with the snow. But if they are well bundled take them for a walk. Take the carrier as a stroller won’t get very far.
For any age child be sure to adequately protect them from the elements.
Bright sun and glare can be hard on their eyes.
Cold wind may nip at their skin so keep it all covered.
Bring tissues because wet faces (from snow, drool, or a runny nose) are very uncomfortable and can get chapped.
And be aware that babies are the most susceptible to the cold because their tiny bodies are more likely to lose heat faster than they can produce it and can’t really tell you when they’re too cold. Keep your outside activities to 20 or 30 minutes maximum.
Indoor Snow Day Activities for Babies
Most baby activities are inside already. Use the snow day as a great excuse to spend uninterrupted time cuddling or practicing age-appropriate milestones like rolling over, shaking a rattle, reading baby books, or playing peek-a-boo.
Sensory play – there are many sensory activities you can put together for babies. Fill a sheet tray with pulsed breadcrumbs (like sand!) or rice and let them play. Use taste-safe ingredients in case they want to put it in their mouth.
Glitter globe – fill an empty water bottle or plastic zip lock bag with water and glitter. Just make sure it’s very well sealed!
Extra tummy time — get down on the floor with your baby to give them some great one-on-one attention during tummy time.
Snow bin – bring the snow inside and let them play with it in a contained environment, like a big tub, pot, or shallow bucket.
Indoor Activities for Crawlers and New Walkers
For those kids who aren’t yet toddlers but need more active stimulation and attention than babies, safety is a big concern. If you haven’t yet baby-proofed your home, a snow day is a great time to see where you may need to make some updates.
Laundry basket – does your little walker like pushing things around the house? Try giving them an empty laundry basket. Then put them inside and push them around!
Tow cart box – have extra Amazon boxes laying around? Pad one up with pillows and attach a string to it. Sit your kiddo inside and pull them around like a little go cart and watch their face light up.
Climbing – does your little one love climbing? Take the time to stand with them as they climb wherever and however they want—on stools, chairs, or the stairs. With your attention they’ll be safe and they might also gain some dexterity with their skill.
Busy board – build a board full of objects they can lift, pull, squeeze, and play with. Glue zippers, flaps with photos underneath, bright colored swatches of various textures. They’ll love exploring the board with you.
Texture box – empty out a shoe box and cut a large hole in the top. Fill the box with a household items with varying textures (a ball of foil, dry sponge, popsicle stick, etc.). Let them fish out objects one-at-a-time and talk about the textures.
Home-made shakers – add beans or coins in a toilet paper roll and cover with tape. Let your child shake and throw it to make all the noise!
Snow Day Activities for Toddlers
When you get tired or reading books, molding Playdoh, drawing, and watching cartoons, here are some extra activities your toddlers will love, and you might enjoy too!
Indoor hopscotch – use blue tape or colored paper shapes on the ground for your child to hop on. You can help them identify the colors and/or shapes as you move around them.
Make a racetrack – speaking of tape, use some to make a track for cars, ponies, dolls, or you and your toddler. Practice the concept of fast and slow. You can build in stop signs along the way. Ramps, blockades, chutes, and tunnels are easily made from cardboard pieces, pillows, or other objects on hand.
Draw on the floor – toddlers love novelty and new things. If your little one loves drawing, change it up a bit and put the paper on the kitchen floor! You can buy painter’s protective paper for cheap in large rolls, it will give them a big space to move around as they draw. Just be very clear about drawing on paper only, and not the actual floor.
Squirt bottles – if you have any empty squirt bottles around, fill them with water and put your kid in the tub. Older toddlers who have a bit more strength and dexterity with this. Just watch out for pinched fingers!
Bean counting and pouring – get out a large sheet tray and a cup of dried beans. Add a few various sized tuperware containers or measuring cups. Give them a few spoons, forks, chopsticks, or scoops to move the beans from container to container (sand toys work well here!). Hopefully most of the beans will stay on the sheet tray, a few may stray so it’s best to let them do this in the kitchen or on a hard surface. If you don’t have dried beans, try colored pom poms, dried rice, coins, or other small objects.
Play salon – let your child “do” your hair. No accessories needed. Toddlers are so tactile and sensory, they will enjoy moving your hair in and out of your eyes, pulling it together to make a ponytail, and more. not all toddlers will be interested, but the ones who are might be entertained for a while playing salon.
Balloon streamers – blow up a few balloons and let your little one throw, kick, and play with them. If you can hang a few from a doorway (with streamers or string), they’ll be able to bat the balloons around in a more contained area.
Build a fort – gather a couple of chairs and a big bed sheet or blanket and make a cozy spot for reading or playing. Your toddler might really love it if the fort is big enough for you to join play time inside. Add a flashlight or glow sticks for an extra special vibe.
Cardboard hiding spot – toddlers love the game hide-and-seek. If the game has already gotten stale for you, gather a few bigger cardboard boxes you have around. Younger toddlers won’t care if you’re sticking out of the box. They'll just enjoy the concept of hiding in a new spot.
Play dress up – get a few smaller items out of your closet (a thin scarf, hats, slip on shoes, sunglasses) and let your toddler dress up. They’ll love trying to walk around in your giant shoes!
Dance party – toddlers love to get physical and many of them need to get their energy out. Find some fun songs (they don’t have to be kid-specific songs) and dance around the house together. If you’re feeling extra tired, your toddler might find it silly to dance while lying on the ground.
If you can, get outside and play! Toddlers love eating and playing in the snow. Just make sure they are properly bundled. If you have a home that requires shoveling, get your little one a small shovel. They’ll love “helping” you out, plus you’ll get a few minutes to get a chore done while they come along with you.