We’ve had our fair share of snow days already in the Northeast and chances are…we’ll have a few more. I know I always spent hours and hours playing in the snow as a kid, but the time always comes when you get too cold and cranky outside, but are desperate for something fun to do inside. Instead of turning on the TV, here are a few of our favorite recommendations for keeping boredom at bay. While the weather’s nice, why not plan a trip to the local bookstore or library and stock up on new books and games so they’ll be exciting and new when you’re house-bound.
1. The Mixed-Up Chameleon Maze Board: This wooden maze game is played with a small magnetic stick and little colored balls. It takes a surprising amount of patience and skill to get all the right color balls into their designated holes. We have a sample in our library here at the Museum and this is one toy that sells itself as children are drawn to it like, well, magnets.
2. Animal Lacing Cards: Another one of those activities that challenges motor skills and dexterity, these cards are perfect at home or in the car. The animal cards are so cute that they can even be hung up on the wall when you’re finished with them!
3. Match-ominoes: What I love about this one is that it’s three games in one and can be fun for a range of ages – perfect when you’re trying to find something for ALL your kids to do together. Includes cards for bingo, dominoes, and matching games. For older kids, you can make a tournament of it, with small prizes of things found around the house or coupons for fun things to do in the future.
4. Scribbles and 5. Doodles: These super giant activity books by Taro Gomi (Japanese author/illustrator of favorite books like Spring is Here – a Carle Bookshop favorite) are jam packed (over 360 pages!) with pages to draw, color, puzzles to solve, crafts to make and games to play. What I love is that they challenge you to use your imagination (“Spring has arrived. Imagine what might be sprouting”) and your brain (“Draw something whose name begins with the last letter of the thing before it”). And they’re really funny, too. Definitely a great book to have around that with a box of crayons or markers makes a fabulous birthday present for your next party.
6. The Anti-Coloring Book: Another great activity book that is a great fit for kids ages six and up. Instead of a traditional, perhaps boring, coloring book, this is filled with imaginative scenes to color and develop. “Design a robot that will do a chore you don’t like doing” or “Scientist have just found a new species of fish, but they haven’t named it yet. What do you think it looks like and what would you call it?” Created by Susan Striker, author of another of our favorite books, Young at Art.
7. Mazescapes by Roxie Munro: Similar to I Spy books or Where’s Waldo, Roxie Munro takes readers through pages and pages of various landscapes. On each one, you search out the intertwining roads and cars and try to find the same car, the same school bus, etc. somewhere on each of the pages. When you’ve found them all, go back and search again for something starting with each letter in the alphabet! There are even hidden letters hiding on each page.
8. D’Aulaires’ Book of Greek Myths: Folktales and myth anthologies are a great way to absorb the attention of older readers. I pored over this book hundreds of times as a kid and was especially fascinated by the wonderful double spread illustration of the family tree of all the gods and goddesses.
9. The New Way Things Work by David Macaulay: A must-have book for every household, you can learn in amazingly easy-to-understand detail how just about everything works. From nuclear fission to supermarkets. I especially love the pages on paper making and bookbinding. Older children can spend hours looking at this book and it’s a great launching point for home experiments and exploration.
10. George & Martha: The Complete Stories of Two Best Friends by James Marshall: I don’t always sing the praises of picture book anthologies because often you lose a lot of the original book’s essence and formatting when trying to cram multiple picture books in one big volume. However, this one is truly fantastic. The George and Martha stories are simple, charming, and oh-so-funny. Not only can you sit down with your kids and read story after story, but it’s also filled with wonderful anecdotes about the late author, James Marshall, from some of children’s literature’s favorite people – including Maurice Sendak and Jon Scieszka. Definitely a great book to add to your collection.
I hope your snow days are a flurry of art activities, science experiments and lots and lots of reading. We’d love to hear what keeps your kids busy when they’re stuck in the house. Share your tips in the comments below.