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February 27, 2019

How We’re Beating Cabin Fever

Contributed by Lauren Wierzbicki, Education Specialist

I have two children – an almost three-year-old and a nine month old – and there is nothing I would like more than to take them outside. But here in Western New York, it seems as though we’re getting a new Winter Storm Warning every week. It’s been extra cold and windy, snowing, freezing rain – for MONTHS. While I’ve done what I can to take my older daughter outside when the weather has allowed,  it hasn’t been enough.

To help keep everyone happy inside the house, we’ve been adapting favorite activities from Doodle Bugs!  for play at home. I have a bit of an advantage based on the fact that I’m a curriculum author, but you can ask your child’s teacher what their favorites are and how to adapt them for home, too. Conveniently, you can do most of the activities below with things that you probably already have in your house:

Playing in the sink.

When I need to spend some time in the kitchen meal prepping or cleaning up, I’ll plug the sink and fill it with warm, soapy water. I add some kid plates and bowls, and my daughter has a blast filling, scooping, pouring, and pretending to “do the dishes”.

Bubble wrap skating.

We got a package in the mail the other day, and my daughter asked for the bubble wrap. She put the pieces on our hardwood floor, put her feet on them, and started skating around! If you don’t have bubble wrap, this activity also works with paper plates (and those work on carpet!).

Bring the snow inside.

All you need is a storage container or even a few bowls, a towel, and your child’s gloves. Gather snow from outside and put the container or bowls on a towel on the floor. By offering your child their gloves, they can still experience and play in the snow without the risk of frostbite! The best part of this activity was that my younger daughter was able to play with her sister, too, and I could take a moment to sit back and relax.

Let children help you bake.

It always feels like a special treat for children when you bake pancakes, bread, or even cookies together when you’re stuck inside the house. Young children can help you measure ingredients, mix them together, and scoop them onto a pan – and you’re introducing them to early math in the process!

Introduce a simple sensory bin.

I’ve got a secret – this photo is actually from over the summer when I was on maternity leave. I was home with a 2 year old and newborn, and I didn’t want to go outside for a different reason – it was too HOT! I filled this under bed storage bin that I had emptied out with some dried oats from the pantry (but you can also use rice, beans, flour, or cereal), added a few spoons and bowls, and let my daughter play. She loved this and wanted to play with it every day, bringing in lots of her own toys and making this activity her own.

All of the art.

If I give my daughter some basic art materials (crayons, markers, glue, paint, foam shapes we had recently gotten from Nana) she is content (and learning!) for a long time. The bigger that I can make the experience for her, the better. Large sheets of paper on the table (or even on the floor), multiple options for paint and paper colors, and the freedom to do what she wants are the magic ingredients for creative, expressive art that occupies her for lengthy periods of time.

To my fellow northerners, I’m sure you can agree that this winter has not been kind. To those of you who live in warmer climates who are missing out on all this snow, and perhaps you’re sometimes stuck inside due to the heat, this blog’s for you, too. Everything I’ve shared can be recreated indoors and out, except the snow – but you can make your own fake snow with one of the recipes at the link here!

Though Mother Nature has her own timeline, here’s hoping spring is near so we can get back outside soon.