7 Winter Boredom Busters with Toys You Already Have

Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this morning and says it’s 6 more weeks of winter. Hello, cabin fever. We’ve become good friends, haven’t we? Also, the novelty of Santa’s new toys has worn off and my children’s ability to play independently for hours on end has now diminished to random half hour intervals interrupted by random laps run around my dining room table. As I type this, my daughter is quacking like a duck while wandering around with a spoon and my son is jumping from his Ninja Turtles chair, sticking the landing on the living room floor. We have a groundhog day craft planned for after nap time but you may remember that my children were less than enthusiastic the last time I tried to be festive with my Chinese New Year craft. I spent some time on Pinterest this morning finding new, creative ways to use toys we (and you) already have laying around to beat our winter boredom blues (and as backup to entertain my own children when/if my craft plans fall apart). Here’s what I found!

1) Puzzles

puzzle play

We’ve done lots of peg and early jigsaw puzzles but here are some new ideas for an old classic:

– Put magnets on the backs of puzzle pieces and assemble on a baking sheet.

– Trace everyday objects onto construction paper and have your little one match the object to the outline.

– Crawl through a tunnel or wheelbarrow walk to collect the puzzle pieces and bring them back to assemble.

Check out examples here.

2. Play Dough 

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We have lots of Play Dough kits, books, tools, etc. but honestly, sometimes mama needs new stuff to do too. I can only play Play Dough barber shop SO many times, so here are some new ideas:

– Themed play dough trays with craft supplies to make monsters, bugs, robots, etc.

– Practicing pre-writing skills by drawing designs into play dough.

– Using toothpicks with play dough to build simple shapes and structures.

Check out my Play Dough Pinterest Board.

3. Cars

Car play boredom busters

Full disclosure, Caleb needs NO outside motivation to encourage him to go play with cars but here’s some fun stuff anyways:

– “Driving” cars with magnets attached to them.

– Rescuing cars in frozen ice blocks.

– Adding paper sails to cars for a wind race across the table.

Click here for links to these car activities.

4. Potato Head

potato head

We love Potato Head so much we had to buy an extra box of random, miscellaneous pieces on ebay. Still though, sometimes my imagination bank is running low and I need ways to spice it up such as….

– Fetching potato head pieces out of sensory pins like rice, sand, pasta, and even Jello (go ahead and get messy-I have bath time suggestions coming up).

– Potato Head construction with ACTUAL potatoes and fridge veggies.

– Using the pieces on a “head” made out of play dough, kinetic sand, or snow (it IS a WINTER boredom buster!).

See more here!

5.  Blocks

blocks

As entertaining as it is to watch the back-and-forth of Caleb building towers only to have Ari ninja her way through and demolish them, here are some other things we’re going to try!

– Wrapping blocks in foil and playing with them or building with them in a shaving cream tub.

– Building structures and patterns on top of mirrors.

– DIY blocks made from sponges we can put in the bathtub.

Check it out!

6. Crayons/Markers

crayons

YES!!!! I needed help with this one and am most jazzed about these Pinterest finds!!!!!

– Taping markers to cars for car coloring (and we already talked about creative car play so that’s 2 birds, 1 stone).

– Coloring onto different textured surfaces such as sandpaper.

– Sitting Ari’s behind in a big ol’ cardboard box and letting her go to town coloring 360 degrees around her.

Here they are.

7. Bath Time

tub time

I mean….they’ve gotta get clean sometime, anyways, right? I need to be better about “bath for fun” instead of my current model of “bath for function” that involves a whirlwind of peach scented body wash and 1 dunk (that I don’t give any notice about) of water from a bucket. Here are some things we’ll try:

– Glow sticks in the water with the lights turned off. (Also, you’re preparing them for college with this one).

– Homemade bath tub coloring paints (however, we used to have bath crayons which generalized into regular crayons down my back hallway wall so don’t say I didn’t warn you).

– Water balloons in the tub. Everyone’s already wet anyways!

Here was my inspiration.

So, thanks a lot Phil. I hear there’s snow coming Sunday so your prediction must be right. Until next year, my friend.