Parents, grandparents, uncles and aunts know how difficult it can be to keep kids entertained during winter. It can often take a lot of whining and discipline, trial and error, to get kids settled on activities that they enjoy.
It’s quite important to have a plan and a range of go to activities ready before they get out of hand.
Rather than handing over your cell phone or turning on the playstation, it’s better to focus on activities that can improve a child’s development. At a young age, children can learn and improve skills like competitiveness, creativity, a sense of accomplishment and social behaviour.
We’re not saying video games are all bad, but it’s important to have a balance!
So without further ado, here are our top picks for activities that will help in your child’s development this winter.
1. Games room
First up is the games room. Plain and simple but every home needs one!
Games such as ping pong or foosball keep kids active while teaching them competitiveness and social skills. Not to mention, they’ll thank you for it when they get to college or work in an office with a table.
A game of darts will help with hand eye coordination and a game of pool can develop a child’s strategic skills.
A games room is perfect for winter option if it’s available for you and provides a sanctuary for kids.
2. Virtual Reality
Mainstream Virtual Reality has gained popularity over the last few years. Largely because of the high quality content and overall affordability.
If you’re lucky enough to have access to a device such as the Oculus Rift or HTC Vive, then you have access to some impressive next generation learning.
Now, there are some interesting games available that will get kids off the couch and moving around. For example, Cloudlands Mini Golf is a bright and colorful mini golf game, designed to be challenging just like the real game.
However, you will also find applications that will help your child learn in new ways. Fantastic contraption is an application where your child can build things and test their inventions – all in a Virtual world. Now what could be more fun than that?
It’s incredible to realise that puzzles have been around since the late 1700s and they continue to be a great tool for learning. They encourage children to solve problems and provide sense of accomplishment, no matter how big or small the puzzle is. Everyone is happy when they finish!
Better yet, puzzle making is an activity that can be classified as a “quiet” activity. It involves attention and concentration, bringing a nice relaxing escape from the world. Not to mention some much needed peace and quiet for parents.
Puzzles come in a variety of forms, including the traditional picture puzzle, word puzzles such as cross words or math puzzles like sudoku. A perfect activity for all ages.
4. Science Experiments
Do you remember how much fun early science classes were? Making a marshmallow catapult or homemade play dough?
Science experiments are a great indoor activity that can also be suited for kids of all ages. With more jobs being created in the STEM (Science, technology, engineering, mathematics) field it also provides an introduction into their potential profession.
The benefits are enormous. They can help a child understand and improve skills in goal-setting, planning and problem solving. Not to mention sparking their intellectual curiosity and helping them better understand the world.
The practice of experimentation also provides some useful everyday life skills, such as generating ideas, making decisions and using data to understand issues.
From all the activities in our list, there’s not one that would have a wider impact like learning how to cook. It’s a skill that everyone will need to call upon sooner or later.
Not only will it keep their tummy’s full, cooking is also an excellent development activity for kids. Similar to science experiments, cooking enables kids to follow a process to achieve an outcome. It also increases math ability, reading skills and their focus and attention.
Furthermore, they’ll be gaining some good life skills and learning about healthy eating. Being a little selfish, you could also score a free meal out of it!
6. Learn to play an instrument
One of the most influential activities to help your child’s development is learning how to play a musical instrument.
Learning an instrument can be directly related to improving verbal intelligence, math skills, memory, coordination, attention and concentration. Plus it has a host of benefits including understanding how music is created and performing in front of audiences.
The most popular instruments to get them started include the guitar and the piano. Kidsguitarzone.com is a great resource which provides an online video course for beginners. For learning the piano, the Hoffman Academy provide some free video content designed for kids.
Other ideas include woodwind instruments such as the clarinet or saxophone, string instruments like the violin, or brass instruments like the trumpet. Getting them enrolled in a school or local band can help their interest and focus.
7. Indoor camping
A child’s imagination is wonderful and often it doesn’t take much to mimic a destination without actually going there. Insert indoor camping.
When it’s miserable outside, it can be hard to get kids to sleep or stop them from misbehaving. Kid’s love camping. But if you can’t do it outside then why not try it inside?
There’s something about being in a tent which provides them with a sense of excitement. You don’t even need a real tent! A makeshift blanket over a few chairs could even do the trick!
Indoor camping can be great for socialising and a neat idea for when you’re hosting sleepovers.
Some things to prepare or keep in mind include:
- Lighting – it can be quite simple to create a night sky and it adds to the fun.
- Everyone will need a torch.
- Sleeping bags, pillows, mattress and blankets are always a good idea.
- Ensure you have plenty of snacks, healthy options are always favoured.
- Games – have a range of games (like puzzles) to keep them occupied.
8. Learn how to code
Curious kids often turn into curious adults. There are certain skills that help encourage kids to unlock their potential and coding is one of them.
Coding helps teach math concepts, improves creativity, problem solving and persistence. Just imagine your child building their own video game for a few weeks or months and finally getting it to work!
Better yet, according to code.org 71% of all new jobs in STEM are in computing, but only 8% of STEM graduates study Computer Science. So there are plenty of well paid jobs out there.
It’s difficult to believe that coding can be fun for kids, but the breadth and quality of applications has made it much easier for younger people to grasp. You can get them started at code.org or http://kidsruby.com/.
While it is getting easier, we recommend it a good activity for kids over 6.
9. Create a movie
Let’s face it, the current generation of kids are all about video consumption and gaming.
So why not have them create and act out a play or movie, and learn the skills to produce the video. In futurist-speak, this is called “applied learning.”
Recreating a sci-fi story or favourite comic book is not only fun, it can provide development in so many areas for young children. Creativity, communication, story-telling, multimedia production and even costume design are just some of the things they can practice.
With the widespread access of high powered cell phones, its relatively easy to get your hands on home video equipment today. Here are a few tips to get started.
But if that’s not an option or isn’t to your child’s taste, you can use tools such as Toontastic which uses existing characters to create 3D movies.
10. Get crafty
Sticking with the creative theme, there’s something about a DIY art and craft kit that can make parents cringe! Not because of the hours of distraction it can provide, but because of its potential to require a rather large clean up.
With that small issue aside, we believe the benefits can far outweigh any potential negatives. Let your kids create anything from costumes, making toy houses, paintings, or their own paper flowers.
Most craft projects require moving the hands and fingers so dexterity and hand eye coordination will be improved. But your kids will also learn self expression, innovation, creativity and decision making skills.