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Affordable ideas to have fun indoors this winter

Outside, the temperatures are falling and winter is in full swing. Inside, your children are sitting in front of the TV, claiming to be bored. Fear not! We put on our thinking cap and assembled a list of a dozen indoor activities that will entertain, engage and educate your kids – while enjoying some good, inexpensive, parent-approved fun!

Conduct a science experiment. What kid wouldn’t love the chance to make some frozen slime or a homemade lava lamp or even a Harry Potter potion? These are three of many science experiments you can do at home using things you’ll find in your kitchen cabinets. The internet is filled with ideas. For some, simple ideas, start at the No Guilt Mom website.

Create a home spa.
Could someone use a little pampering? Let your kids take turns painting each other’s nails, styling their hair or applying makeup. Better yet, let them give you a complete spa treatment.

Learn a language. Would your kids like to learn to speak Spanish? How about Chinese? Or even Hawaiian? With a smart phone or computer, it’s easier than ever. Websites and free apps provide kids – and parents, too – a fun way to learn new languages. Duolingo offers 33 different choices – including Klingon, the fictional language spoken in the Star Trek universe!

Listen to a podcast. Looking for a way to spur your kid’s imagination? Visit your favorite podcast app and subscribe to a podcast for kids. There are dozens available on everything from science to meditation for kids. For starters, you might subscribe to Story Pirates. (It’s free!) In each episode, world-class actors, comedians and musicians take original stories from real kids around the U.S. and turn them into comedy podcasts. Your kids can even create and submit their own story ideas for future shows.

Make a movie. With a smart phone or iPad and an active imagination, your kids can make their own movie. They might create their commercial or a spoof of their favorite TV show. Or maybe they can script their own story. Your phone or computer probably comes with free movie-editing software, such as iMovie, that makes it easy to edit and add special effects.

Make some music. Gather up all the musical instruments in the house – or make your own using pots, wood spoons and other kitchen utensils. Then let the kids make some music, performing popular or traditional children’s favorites.

Create a music video. Once they’re ready to perform, let your kids capture their songs on video. Kids of all ages can make their own original music videos with easy-to-use smart phone apps like Video Star. They’ll get to expend some dance- and music-making energy – while letting their creative juices flow. The result will be a video they can watch over and over with friends and family.

Have an indoor treasure hunt. You don’t need silver and gold to have a treasure hunt at home. Just pull together some household items and hide them around the house. Give the kids a list of clues to help them guess their locations. And let the search begin!

Bake cookies or cake. If your kids are small, they can help you combine the ingredients and decorate the finished product. If they are older – and time permits – invite them to try baking homemade yeast bread. They will enjoy seeing the dough rise and kneading it down again. And everyone loves the smell of fresh bread baking.

Learn to draw. Is your child interested in drawing horses? Race cars? Dinosaurs? Just Google “how to draw a….” and fill in the blank. You’ll discover all kinds of examples to help your young artist get started. Have plenty of blank paper and markers available, and let the drawing begin.

Make a greeting card or write a letter. There are few things that grandparents, cousins and friends love more than receiving letter or card in the mail. While your art supplies are out, invite your kids to create a card or letter that they can send to a loved one. It’s a great opportunity to practice their handwriting. And who knows – maybe they’ll get one back in return.

Teach money skills. Learning about the money, saving and spending can be fun! If you collect coins in a jar, invite your kids to count them and offer them a cut, say 10 or 20%, of the total. You can pick up some coin rolls and show your kids how to use them. When the weather warms up, take your kids along with you to the bank so they can see how the coins can be exchanged for bills. Better yet, they can deposit their “new money” in their own savings account.

With a little imagination and creativity, having fun indoors can be an easy – and inexpensive – feat! And, you’ll create memories with your family in the process. Stay warm – and have fun!

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