Inspiring Ideas for Indoor Play This Winter

By Shannon Valko from Little Beans Cafe January 9, 2014

As the owner of Little Beans Cafe, I’m a true believer in the power of play for little ones to help them learn and inspire them to connect and create.

As a mom of two, I know how challenging it can be to find creative ways to entertain your crew 365/24/7 during the winter.

We opened Little Beans so that families would have a place to go for a change of scenery, to let out energy and of course, play with different toys.

For those days when you can’t leave the house (or just don’t have the energy to get everyone all bundled up), here are a few of the tricks I keep up my sleeve when we’re housebound:

  • Fabulous Forts: Find blankets, push together some chairs and couches and build a space for you and your little one(s) to play and snuggle. Forts are fun and imaginative, plus kids feel accomplished when they build them.
  • Magic in a Bottle: Empty a large clear water bottle and remove the label. Fill the bottle ¾ of the way with hot water and then add a full bottle of glitter glue and a small tube of ultra-fine glitter the same color as the glue. Shake the bottle (make sure that top is on really tight or glue it down) and watch in amazement as it turns into a glittery globe of fun that can last for days.

  • Snow Day Toys: Choose a few toys/activities that you save for only when the weather is really bad. Their novelty will make the kids more excited to play with them.

  • Mommy Magic: If your children receive a lot of birthday gifts, put away a couple of them and bring one out once you’ve exhausted all of your other options. The new toy will keep them occupied for a while. Of course this only works if your child is young enough not to notice his/her gifts have disappeared!

  • Reading Scavenger Hunt: Scavenger hunts are a favorite in our house. Put a unique spin on it by hiding books in different rooms and challenging the kids to find and read (or have you read) each one.

  • Dress Up and Sing: If your kids love playing dress up, challenge them to each put on a costume and make up a song. You can play judge and offer awards for things such as most creative song, best use of the costume and song with the most number of words.

  • Color/Number Challenge: Line up colored objects in different amounts and see who can write down the color and number of each object the fastest. Play this multiple times to see who gets the best of three or five. Incorporate nutritious food into the game to get them excited about eating the selection as a healthy snack afterwards.

  • Home-Style Top Chef: If you have older kids, give them each the same ingredients, challenge them to create a unique dish and then have a collective taste test at the end to determine the winner.

  • Finger Paint with Pudding: The night before a snowstorm, whip up a couple of different kinds of pudding to use as finger paints.

I hope these ideas spark the same energy and enthusiasm in your children that we strive for when families visit Little Beans.

Shannon Valko is a mother of two young kids and owner of Little Beans Cafe. She left the corporate world to pursue her dream of opening a place where she could spend time with her children while they played to their hearts content (and she could enjoy a cup of coffee and not worry about cleaning up).