Cheap indoor winter activities for kids

39 Fantastic, Frugal Indoor Activities for Kids This Winter

It’s that time of year again. 

It’s the time of year when days are shorter, nights are longer, and, the worst of it, – your kids are stuck indoors.

I love my kiddos dearly, but at this time of year, I can’t stand to hear them proclaim “I’m bored” one more time.  On the other hand, it’s not in their best interest to let them play with electronics all day while I try to get things done at home.

So, what’s a mom to do? She gets armed and ready.

This year it’s time to use a new strategy. Before your precious darlings can mutter those dreaded two words, get your supplies set up for these winter boredom busters.

We have a great list of free family activities, but many of them require going outside. So, I’ve put together of 38 indoor winter activities for kids so you don’t have to come up with something completely new.

Go ahead and pin or bookmark this page, you’ll be glad you did when school has been canceled! You’ll be ready to defend your day and keep the minds of your children stimulated without screens.  It’s a win-win for everyone.

I have separated this list into Toddler and School Age to make it a little easier to find something perfect for your child. But don’t let the recommended age limit your imagination! Many of these ideas can be adapted for younger or older children.

Toddler Age (Ages 2-4)

Lavender playdough for kidsDIY Lavender Play Dough

There are several recipes online for making your own playdough. But not only is this lavender playdough recipe perfect for keeping kids occupied while indoors, it has an added bonus of calming the senses. I need to get my hands on a lifetime supply of this stuff.

Learning games for kidsLearning Art Projects

I would hardly consider myself super crafty, but these art projects look like something even I could enjoy doing with my kids. Best of all, it uses supplies you likely have on hand and aren’t expensive to purchase.

Free alphabet coloring printablesAlphabet Printables

This is perfect for the little ones who are just learning their letters. Even if your child can’t read (i.e. only likes to scribble) then this will be a great choice too. Download these alphabet printables and let them color to their heart’s content.

Color matching wheel to teach kids their colorsColor Matching Wheel

A craft that a toddler can complete themselves, isn’t messy, teaches them colors and word recognition – yes, please! While this color-matching wheel isn’t very complicated, it will keep your little one occupied long enough to let you enjoy a cup of coffee.

Snowman craft with construction paperSnowman Decorations

Get the entire family involved with these adorable snowmen decorations. Not only do these make a fun and simple craft (where your toddler can practice cutting skills and fine motor skills), but you can use them as decorations around your house or give as a gift. Who knew snowmen could be so adorable?

Crayon oatmeal push activityCrayon Push Activity

If you have a large empty oatmeal container (or a similar structure that has a flimsy plastic top) then you can make this simple craft! Grab a pair of scissors or a knife and poke holes in the plastic top. Make sure the holes are big enough to wedge a crayon through but not too big so it’s not challenging. Then secure the top onto the container and give your child a batch of crayons to “push” through the holes. They will love the sound of the crayon dropping and will wonder why they can’t see it any longer.  

Ball PitPlastic Ball Pit

Do you happen to have a plastic pool from the summer that you aren’t using? Then break it out and fill it up with plastic balls and watch your toddlers go nuts.  You can also make an indoor ball pit even more fun by adding an indoor plastic slide to your pit. So it’s not quite Chuck E. Cheese, but I guarantee they will love it just the same.

Play doctor with dollsPlay Doctor

Let your kids bust out the box of bandages that they have been dying to get their hands on all year. If they have any dolls or stuffed animals that need to get their annual shots, then now is the time. They can practice giving the shot and then cover them in as many bandages as needed. I would encourage them to make sure as many of their dolls and stuffed animals are taken care of as possible.

Kids hot chocolate standHot Chocolate Stand Printables

Nothing screams Winter fun better than hot chocolate. These printables are not only adorable, but they teach your children early on about basic business principles. Once you print everything out for your kids, sit back and listen to them learn how to run their own small business.

Kids Indoor Play StructureIndoor Play Structures

If you have a toddler then chances are they have more energy than you know what to do with. Fortunately for you, an indoor play structure can provide them with a perfect place to expend that energy. If you’re able to order a play structure ahead of time then you’ll thank yourself when you’re stuck inside.  

Advanced alphabet mazeAlphabet Maze

If you have paper, markers, and a few stickers on hand, then you can create an Alphabet Maze. The best part? If you have older children then they’ll be able to create these for the younger ones so everyone is involved. I love that it teaches the younger kids letter recognition but also encourages creativity.

Glitter toy snowglobesDIY Snow Globes

I don’t know of any child that isn’t captivated by a snow globe. With a handful of those tiny toys you have randomly lying around the house, you can make a snow globe quite easily. This is also a great way to use up the leftover baby jars you swore you were going to use again someday.  The combinations on these creations truly know no limits.

Homemade selfie snowglobeSelfie Snow Globes

Along the same lines as the DIY Snow Globes, a Selfie Snow Globe allows you to insert a picture of your child (or whatever picture they choose) instead of a small toy. These will last for years and provide hours of entertainment. This is an especially easy project even if you do not have a bottle of glycerin lying around – you can use corn syrup instead.

Playdough fossil gamePlay Dough Fossils

If you happen to have any small objects (such as coins, shark teeth, legos, etc) then you can easily make a play dough fossil. Keep your kids busy by having them guess what object it is that they see in the play dough. And they will love pushing items into the playdough to seeing the marks it makes.

Consider pressing objects into clay, letting it harden, and burying the “fossils” in small sand or bead boxes. Your toddlers can go on their own excavation missions!

Indoor blanket and pillow fortBuild a Fort!

A fort is a perfect snowy winter day activity – no matter what age your children are. Let them pull out all the stops and challenge them to build the best fort they can possibly imagine. Don’t limit the imagination to just pillows and blankets either. Let them use giant cardboard boxes, pool noodles, lots of bed sheets, whatever their heart desires!

Cook with kids Get in the Kitchen!

Yes, we all have days we need to quickly throw something together for dinner. And we all know it’s faster when we do it ourselves. But nothing gets kids more excited than when you set aside time to cook or bake together. What else brings a family together better than a meal or treat? Go ahead and make a mess, try a new recipe, put the aprons on and go. Whether you’re a seasoned cook or can’t recognize a sheet pan from a cookie press, it’s ok. Your kids will have a blast no matter what you do and what age they are.

Child playing in cardboard box

Cardboard Box Project

Speaking of cardboard boxes, why are kids obsessed with all things corrugated? Feed their obsession and let them play in the biggest, best cardboard box you can possibly find. Then plop them inside of it, turn them loose with a set of crayons, and watch the fun begin. The older kids can get into this too. Let them design a robot, a dinosaur, a racecar – whatever their imagination can dream up by using items around the house.

DIY marble run from paper towel rolls for kidsDIY Marble Run

Save toilet paper and paper towel rolls to paint and make this awesome marble run. Let your kids change the course and see where the marbles go next. If you don’t have toilet paper rolls on hand, you can always use rolled construction paper instead!

School Aged Kids (5 and Up)

Painted stone monstersStone Monster Crafts

What child doesn’t love a craft where they create a monster from a rock? They can make it as unique and goofy as possible-the funnier the better.  Let your kids’ personality shine and creativity soar when they make these adorable monster crafts. Perfect for your school-aged children, but with the right amount of supervision, your toddler could easily enjoy this activity too.

Travel tic-tac-toe gameTic-tac-toe Tins

I love this idea of making homemade Tic-tac toe tins to make travel life (or indoor life) a little easier. Not only is it very budget friendly, but there’s no limit to the number your child can make. They can also incorporate different designs and make several to give to friends. Get ready for X’s and O’s with this delightful craft.

Make origami paper airplanes and have races with kidsPaper Airplanes

Show your kids that long before Fortnite and YouTube, people had to actually create their own entertainment and hand make things for fun. A fleet of paper airplanes is a perfect way to get their imagination working. Not only will it take skill to make a proper airplane, but they can also design it to reflect their own personalities.

Make yarn friendship bracelets for young kidsDIY Friendship Bracelets

No childhood is complete without learning how to make some type of friendship bracelet. If you have any wool or yarn then you can help your child make this simple craft. These can be made to wear on the wrists or ankles and will keep them busy for hours. Have them make out a list of the friends they want to give a bracelet too (that is, the ones they are speaking to this week).

Snowman party game for kidsSnowman Party Game

Think “pin the tail on the donkey” meets Winter Wonderland with this game. Everyone in your family will have a blast with this easy craft and fun game. And with multiple elements to stick to the snowman, let everyone have turns and see what your final creation looks like!

Simple embroidery project for kidsEmbroidery Project

Do yourself a favor and order the supplies for this project in advance. While an embroidery project may be a little intimidating for some, this one is perfect for trying something simple with your kids. Imagine how proud they will feel when they have completed their own work of embroidered art!

Pictionary pipe cleaner gamePipe Cleaner Pictionary

Looking for a family game where the older children can work with the younger siblings? You’re in luck with this simple adaption of the classic Pictionary game. Older children can try to make pictures with pipe cleaners and yet their younger siblings guess! Who knew pipe cleaners could be so much fun and provide such great entertainment?

Snowflake want project for kidsPrincess Snowflake Wands

Do you have a Princess that lives in your home? If so, she will absolutely love making beautiful snowflake wands that are a snap to make. A Princess Wand is a great craft for all those leftover snowflakes you bought and never used during the holidays.

Create a fun winter solstice lampMake a Winter Solstice Ice Lamp

Making a Winter Solstice Lamp is a great way to combine a craft with a lesson for the kids. You can discuss how this is the shortest day and longest night of the year. This craft happens in stages but it uses a really simple set of supplies.

Indoor bird watching for kidsIndoor Bird Watching

Birds fascinate my children, and they also love to sketch and write. You can combine the two by creating an indoor bird watching zone.  There are several tips on creating a viewing spot so your kids can catch a glimpse of some feathered friends. It’s an indoor winter activity that also connects your kids to nature.

Find a pen pal for your kidsWrite to a Pen Pal

I love the idea of finding and writing to a pen pal. What a great opportunity to teach your kids that people can truly use paper and pencils to write instead of just texting to one another. And if you find a pen pal in another culture or area of the country, your kids can learn from their new friends!

DIY washi tape bookmarkHomemade Bookmarks

If your child loves to read a physical book for fun, or if they have a textbook they are working through, then they should make these bookmarks. The tape is so much fun and they can pick designs they love. If you have any washi tape leftover from your bullet journal or scrapbooking, then this a perfect way to use it.

Fun DIY fluffy slime recipeHomemade Slime

I have a love/hate relationship with slime. I love it because my kids have a blast with it, but I hate it because it usually makes such a mess. However, if my kids are stuck in the house all day then I can suddenly overlook the mess and let them go to town with their own slime. They just have so much fun!

Glitter and unicorn slime recipeUnicorn Slime

If plain, regular, homemade slime just won’t cut it at your house, then kick it up a notch with this recipe for Unicorn Slime.  This is a fantastic way to really let your children express their own creativity. And the colors and glitter are so cool!

Festive Oreo cookie recipePudding Oreo Cookies

If you’re looking for a way to keep your kids occupied and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time, then you should check out these Pudding Oreo Cookies. While this recipe uses Christmas decorations, you don’t have to stop there. Use whatever baking supplies you have on hand to decorate your Oreos. Challenge your kids to come up with something completely unique!

Homemade foosball game for young kidsThe Flour Game

The Flour Game is definitely a way to get your kids occupied for a while. All you need is a bag of flour and plate to play this hilarious game. Even though it’s quite messy, the mess will be worth it when you hear the endless laughter coming from them.

Indoor scavenger huntIndoor Scavenger Hunt

At first glance, a scavenger hunt may sound complicated but with a little preparation, you can easily create one. An indoor scavenger hunt has many variations so you can tailor it to your kids’ ages and personalities. I love that you can get super creative with a prize and work with any budget. Pick a theme and let your inner activities coordinator shine!

DIY cardboard marble labyrinth for kidsCardboard Box Marble Labyrinth

Popsicle sticks, a cardboard box, and some marbles are all you need to make this excellent game. Making the project will take your kids some time, and they can spend hours doing different challenges once it is built. Who doesn’t love a frugal, fun STEM activity?

Hallway laser maze for kidsDIY Hallway Laser Maze

Do your kids love secret agents and superheroes? With some simple streamers, you can make an awesome laser maze to see who can get down the hall without tripping the laser alarms! Make easier mazes to start and add levels as your kids beat each successive round.

Colored origami jumping frogs for kids to play withOrigami Jumping Frogs

It might take a few times until your kids can fold these origami jumping frogs perfectly, but once they’re done they’ll love making them hop around the house. See who can jump their frogs highest, furthest, or closest to a target for an added adventure.

Homemade foosball game for young kidsDIY Mini Foosball Table

A shoebox, dowels, clothes pins and a golf ball is all you need to make your own indoor foosball table! Color the clothes pins different colors for each team, cut holes to run the dowels through the box and cut goals in the end. It’s fun to make and so much easier for little hands to play than a full-size foosball table.

Get Ready for the Indoor Fun

Being stuck indoors doesn’t mean you can’t have fun while stimulating your kids’ minds. With only a little bit of planning, you will have them occupied before you know it.

And please try to relax and enjoy the time you have together. Our kids are all growing way too fast and winter is only a season. Sunny, warm days will be here again soon!

Moms- I would love to hear your ideas for winter indoor activities. What are your favorite things to do with your kiddos?

39 Frugal Winter Boredom Busters for Kids

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