Keep the little ones occupied and entertained during the colder months of the year with activities that are guaranteed to provide the perfect balance of fun, creativity, learning and well-deserved family time.
We have easy baking projects using wintery flavours like spicy ginger and cinnamon, and afternoon teas including tasty sandwiches and warming hot chocolates. You can find more winter and Christmas baking ideas with our selection of Christmas cookies for kids recipes.
Get the kids crafting with festive decorations and cold-afternoon activities such as painting, playdough fun, papier mâché madness and more. For more practical and (noisier) projects, follow our guide on the 5 instruments kids can make.
We also greatly value mindfulness and the importance of kids winding down after a busy day. We’ve listed some tips on how your kids can make the most of quiet time to keep their brains as stress-free as possible. Our guide on mindfulness tips for a calmer Christmas is filled with psychologist-approved activities to ensure Christmas is stress-free and enjoyable. Yoga exercises and outdoor fitness are also great for healthy minds and bodies, as well being both fun and versatile.
Use up simple cupboard ingredients to make fun salt dough, which can then be baked and decorated. Let your kids' creativity run wild with different shapes, colours and patterns. You can follow our guide on how to make salt dough, with a few tips on how to make the most out of decorating. Using this recipe, you could also try out these salt dough Christmas decorations with a variety of biscuit cutters.
Gingerbread is the ultimate wintery sweet treat and is both delicious to eat and fun to make. Ensure parental supervision is in place for the warm sugar syrup as it is very hot. Once cooled, the gingerbread is ready to be iced and decorated and is perfect to have for a cosy afternoon tea with family and friends. Check out our recipe on how to make these delicious gingerbread people.
Grab an old jam jar and some festive glitter and create a magical snow globe at home. It is the perfect way to keep kids occupied, get crafty and recycle household goods. Follow our guide here on how to make a snow globe.
4. Go see the Christmas lights
Why not bring the whole family along to see some beautiful Christmas lights in your local town or city centre? It could be a great way to stimulate your kids’ imagination, whilst also lifting everyone’s mood and bringing some festive cheer. You could also put up your own home decorations with the kids, including those pretty salt dough decorations you made on another day.
Sweet gift alert! Make these reindeer hot chocolate cones for family and friends to enjoy on a cosy winter evening. Kids will enjoy filling the bags and decorating on the reindeer faces. One cone serves four, so make a batch and there’s plenty to go round.
6. Have a family movie night
Sometimes all you need is to lounge all evening and watch your favourite family blockbusters, accompanied by (of course) your favourite family snacks. Follow our guide on the ultimate family film night for both sweet and savoury treats and yummy drinks.
Fairy cakes are particularly nice to make on a rainy day when kids don’t want to be outdoors. Having an activity which stimulates learning and creativity whilst also (hopefully) being quite calming, is always a good way to spend your time. We have a delicious fairy cake recipe suitable for kids, as well as a wider selection of the best fairy cake recipes for everyone to enjoy.
8. Explore winter wildlife outdoors
You could also take the kids outside to explore the wildlife this time of year, learning about seasonal changes and the impacts on wildlife hibernation. For outdoor play and exploration at home, these mud kitchen ideas for your garden ensures kids are developing their knowledge in numeracy through the use of scales, literacy when reading recipes and basic biology when identifying different creatures and plants.
9. Make afternoon tea
Either for a special occasion or just a jolly time, an afternoon tea party is always a good idea. This guide on a simple classic afternoon tea for kids is a nice time filler for those slow days during school holidays. We have a selection of activities and ideas, including delicious kids' sandwiches and a selection of cakes and scones, and you could easily swap cold drinks for warming hot tea or hot chocolates if preferred. You could also try these sandwich fillings for kids for more tea party inspiration.
10. Take time for mindfulness
Research done by psychologists and professors in mind development in recent years has shown that mindfulness in schools is worthwhile and positive. Even 20- to 30-minute sessions can improve the emotional and physical states of young people over time, thus reducing anxiety, stress and bad behaviour. Our 10 mindfulness exercises for kids provide some simple exercises for kids and adults alike to do at home.
Paper folding is a super easy and affordable way to get crafty with the kids. We have an origami for kids guide, which includes links to three origami animals to make!
As days get shorter and night skies sparkle, a great activity would be to stargaze. Either from the window or your back garden with some blankets and go-to snacks, take time with your kids to learn about our magnificent solar system and the stars in our Milky Way galaxy. The Star Walk 2 app, which is available on iOS and Android mobiles, allows you to point your phone to the sky to identify constellations and stars and provides an educational guide to the beautiful night sky.
13. Paint rocks
Stuck indoors and have no plans? Decorate some rocks! This is an easy rock painting guide for a ladybird design to get started and then kids will love coming up with new ideas.
14. Make fake snow
Snow doesn’t always fall during Christmas but one way to create a sense of magic is with homemade fake snow. It's an easy way to add a sprinkle of something special to nativity scenes and even can be moulded into tiny snowmen, ready to be decorated. Follow the instructions via the above link and get creating.
15. Go on a bike ride
Keeping active through exercise can be incredibly fun and create so many memories. Try cycling through open woodland and parks where kids can explore and get some fresh air.
For a fun science lesson in the kitchen, try making natural dyes from basic fruit and veg. These dyes can be used to create dyed t-shirts, socks or any white fabric you have lying around. We have tips on how to create vibrant purple, blue and pink, red, yellow, green and orange dyes.
Pick up some pinecones from your local forest and get crafting to make this easy and adorable pinecone mouse, found in our autumn crafts for kids' guide. It uses common crafting essentials such as felt, glue and card to create little rodent friends.
18. Try papier mâché
Prepare this classic papier mâché mixture in 10 minutes! Our winning recipe allows you and the family to easily create amazing projects from balloon bowls to faces and globes. Follow the recipe here on how to make papier mâché and watch our exclusive video which includes some of our fun creations. Any leftover paper can be used to make these sweet paper flowers.
Pump up the jams and get to the dancefloor! Having a little dancing session is such a great way of keeping the kids active and fit, especially when the weather isn’t too great and staying indoors is the only option. Street dance, break dancing or even ballroom dancing; whatever you feel like doing, make sure the kids get excited to shake some moves! You can also follow our 5 ways of keeping kids active guide.
Another science project incoming! Kids eight years and over are going to love making these bath bombs that are completely safe to use in the bath. With a mix of essential oils including lavender, chamomile, coconut and olive oil, these homemade bath bombs work out cheaper than shop-bought ones and are also very enjoyable to make.
When Christmas is involved, it's handy to double up activities and make them multi-purpose. Here we have edible meringue candy canes which also can be used as Christmas tree decorations and make a lovely gift to friends and family. For other easy Christmas decorations, you could try these Christmas table decorations and get the whole family involved!
There are always a few spuds left in the veg box! Use biscuit cutters and a knife to carve out shapes for your kids to dip into paint. These are so great for making homemade cards, stamping onto wrapping paper or making art to display on the fridge door. Follow these instructions and tips on how to make potato stamps.
Using only paper and scissors, create impressive snowflake designs which can be cut in lots of fun ways. Here we have an easy eight-step guide on how to make a paper snowflake. Just make sure younger kids are using safe scissors.
24. Yoga for kids
Similarly to the mindfulness and exercise activities, yoga is great for both keeping calm and active. This set of exercises tells a story within a yoga jungle that can be read aloud to your kids, and involves a set of characters with different sound effects, including a snake, frog and a flamingo which the children can act out using easy yoga poses.
It often seems the easier option to buy playdough from the craft shop and leave your kids to it. But, if you’re after a fun mini home project, this is it! Follow our video where Juliet Sear demonstrates how to make playdough, advises on equipment to use and shows us ideas for shapes and models.
Enjoyed these ideas? Discover more of our activities for kids here...
What's your favourite winter family activity? Leave a comment below...