Guiding kids toward productive (nondestructive!) indoor activities can be a bit of a challenge. Here are 10 clever ideas for family fun on a cold winter day.
1. Tweak a familiar board game. Board games are lots of fun, but putting a crazy twist on a popular game creates a unique family experience that becomes an inside joke. Instead of traditional checkers, play a game where the goal is for players to get rid of checkers, not accumulate them! Or challenge Pictionary artists to draw for their teammates blindfolded!
2. Put on a family talent show. Juggle scarves, tell jokes, do a few tricks with the family pet, or show off some Hula-hoop tricks. Everyone has a little talent!
3. Bake cookies and then deliver them to the fire department. Kids love to "help" in the kitchen and you'll feel good about teaching them a lesson in community service. (As an added bonus, they might be offered a tour of the fire station!)
4. Tell stories...but add a challenging twist: Each person takes a turn grouping 10 objects on a table and then choosing someone to make up a story that includes all 10 objects. When the tale is over, the storyteller can put 10 different objects on the table and choose the next storyteller.
5. Play Would You Rather...? Kids love to choose between two bizarre options - and you'll get addicted to this game too. Would you rather investigate scary noises in the attic by yourself or sleep outside in a sleeping bag alone? (The best thing about this game: No props required.) Caution: This should be played under adult supervision only.
6. Read, then feed. Read a book aloud with a companion cookbook and then follow one of the recipes together! If your kids would enjoy listening to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, select an accompanying recipe from Roald Dahl's Revolting Recipes. If your kids are fans of the Little House series, check out The Little House Cookbook.
7. Have a puzzle race. If your gang thinks jigsaw puzzles are a bit tame, try this zany twist. Each member of the family chooses a puzzle. Dump all of the puzzle pieces into a pile, mix them up, then... BEGIN! Who can find all the right pieces and finish his or her puzzle first?
8. Send the kids on a Missing Pieces Scavenger Hunt. Take something apart (a puzzle, a jointed skeleton...) and hide the pieces around the house. Tell the kids to work together to find all of the pieces and put the item back together again.
9. Make your own Mad Libs. Mad Libs are funny enough on their own, but when you take the time to create personal stories for your own family, you'll never stop laughing. Study a few Mad Libs to see how they're written, then come up with your own unique stories and have your family members fill in the blanks.
10. Have an impromptu Family Olympics. See who can make the paper airplane that flies the farthest. Give everyone a piece of bubble gum and find out who can make the largest bubble. See who can make the most "baskets" using rolled up socks and an empty wastebasket. Who will walk away with the gold medal?
Cynthia L. Copeland is the best-selling, award-winning author/illustrator of more than 25 books for adults and children, including Family Fun Night: 372 Great Nights with Your Kids. She has sold more than 750,000 books in five languages, and her books have been recommended by Oprah, Regis Philbin, Ann Landers, and the hosts of Good Morning America.