We have all been there: You look out the window and realize it’s too rainy, windy, snowy, cold, humid, or [insert bad weather phrase here]. It’s too miserable to go out.
You feel your chest tightening and your breath quickens as the panic sets in: What are you going to do stuck inside ALL DAY with a high-energy child?!
Your heart sinks as you see your entertainment options quickly dwindling. You can’t even drive to the store or the library in this weather. You are STUCK. All day. Alone with your young, highly energized child(ren). You can feel their energy building inside their tiny bodies, vibrating the walls of the house.
You suddenly feel defeated, and the day hasn’t even begun yet.
Then you remember The Box. The one you planned ahead of time, because you knew the need for this emergency box was looming in the near future.
The best way, I think, to utilize “The Box” is to pick out one item at a time (for the littler ones) or have your child choose one activity at a time. When they get bored of something, or you’ve completed the craft or activity, you can move on to the next surprise item.
Are you excited for The Box list? I am!
1. Felt balls
There are endless possibilities with felt balls: you can sort them, throw them, string them together, make necklaces, make Christmas ornaments, or teach yourself to juggle.
2. Wool for Wet Felting
If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can make your own felt balls! All you need is some wool roving. Here’s a handy little tutorial on how to easily make felt balls. (Bonus: your kid gets to play with water! Inside! How thrilling.)
It’s fun to have one or two special books that only get pulled out for special occasions. These extra special books can be finger puppet books, noisy ones, silly ones. They can be coloring books, alphabet books, or educational books. Whichever you choose, they will be extra special because they will only be pulled out on these bad weather days.
4. Noisy toys
These toys are the ones you don’t want to hear all the time. The ones the grandparents or childless friends gave you that you need to keep around, but don’t really want to. These are great entertainment in small doses.
Keep on hand a big assortment of colorful crayons, glitter crayons, wacky colors... Something they aren’t used to seeing in their everyday coloring kit
Include plain paper that they can draw on with their wacky crayons, or use to cut out snowflakes, or learn how to make paper airplanes with.
Let your little one warm the beeswax up in their hands as you tell them a story, and slowly begin to mold the warmed beeswax into a character from the story.
8. Pom Poms and Plastic Cups
Admittedly, this sounds like you are preparing them for beer pong in their future (especially since red SOLO cups work so well for this). BUT! If it can entertain drunken college students, it can entertain toddlers.
Set up the plastic cups in a row and practice hand-eye coordination as your little one throws the pom poms into the cups. You can also sort the pom poms into colors, or stack the cups as high as they will go and watch them topple over. Balance the cups on your head! Put water in a cup and watch the pom poms float and the rocks (below) sink to the bottom. The possibilities are endless.
A must have. Finger paint, paint objects collected from nature, paint on paper, paint on faces. The world is your painted oyster.
On your countless walks around the block or days at the playground when your little one has magically collected endless pebbles, rocks and sticks, don’t throw them away: save them in The Box to be painted.
11. Dry Erase Markers
These are wonderful to draw on windows with as you gaze longingly out at the bad weather that’s keeping you stuck inside. Those colorful window squiggles will wipe right off when you’re done.
12. Cookie cutters
Find cookie cutters in fun, special shapes to bake sugar cookies with. Or pour rice on a cookie sheet and have your little one make shapes with the cookie cutters.
13. Stacking Cups
These stacking cups are great to learn hand-eye coordination, build up, topple over, pretend-eat out of, wear as hats, you name it.
Again, great way to teach the littler ones about fine motor skills use tongs to pick up the pom poms and drop them into different cups, or arrange them in a muffin tin. You can find easy to use tongs for little hands.
15. Dry Yeast Packets
Keep these in The Box and you will always have yeast on hand to bake bread. Children love the process of baking, from mixing to kneading to watching the dough rise, and finally eating it. What a valuable lesson! And, it’s easier than it looks.
16. Christmas Lights
Build a fort, and set up Christmas lights in there to make it extra cosy.
17. Tin Foil
Paint the foil, let it dry, then use the cookie cutters to trace shapes. Cut the shapes out, and Voila! You’ll have a painted foil butterfly or star in no time. String them together to make a garland.
To paint on everything.
If your little one is old enough for legos, store extra special ones away in The Box that will keep them delighted and entertained for hours (or minutes). For the extra little guys, you can always try those jumbo lego.
Who isn’t fascinated by the flickering flame of a candle? Make sure you have a lighter on hand. Useful especially for power outages, but also for fun like making gooey, yummy treats (see #21).
Pop a marshmallow on a fork, and ‘roast’ it in the flame of the candle. Yum!
22. Hot Chocolate Mix
Chocolate is always a safe bet to have on hand, and if your little one doesn’t get this treat regularly, it’s especially exciting for them. Of course, then you’ll have to deal with the sugar high (and subsequent crash). On second thought, include chocolate at your own risk.
23. Flashlight (with batteries)
Not only practical, but it’s also so fun to use a flashlight to make fun shadows on the wall. Hide in your fort, turn off the lights, shine that flashlight against the wall, and see what shadow-shapes and animals you can make with your hands.
Fresh, clean play dough that hasn’t dried up is a novelty.
Paint them, string them together to make a garland, or coat them in peanut butter and birdseed for the squirrels.
26. String or Yarn
String is perfect for stringing everything together that you’ve already made, like the felt beads or foil butterflies. Yarn is great for finger knitting, or garlands. And for the older kids, you can teach them how to cat’s cradle.
Include kid friendly scissors to cut shapes out of paper, foil, and to cut the string or yarn.
28. Construction Paper
Always a must. Cut out construction paper triangles, decorate with glitter, and string together for a garland to decorate your fort with. The Christmas lights will make that glitter sparkle (see #29).
For those who don’t want a glitter-infested house on the regular, a little bit of glitter on a rainy day goes a long way.
Glue googly eyes (see below) onto the rocks, pinecones or construction paper snowman you just made. You could try washable glitter glue for extra fun times.
31. Googly Eyes
Make a bell necklace, shake them loudly as you sing Christmas carols, or sew them to an old shirt and shimmy around the house like no one is watching.
33. Old Movies
Pick a DVD or two of your favorite childhood movie. These “old,” classic movies may not keep their attention on normal days, but snuggled up with you and a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day will make them extra special and inviting.
34. Favorite CDs
Dance party! Teach them about your favorite music, pick silly music, whatever you want that you can dance to. This is a great way to work out that energy they got from drinking all that hot chocolate.
For mom. Enough said.
Before you know it, the day is done and you’ve packed that box away for the next bad weather day. Now all you have to do is rest with your feet up, drink that bottle of wine and pat yourself on the back for having been so well prepared for what could have been one disastrous day.
What would you add to The Box? Let me know in comments below!