Having kids home on school break is simultaneously wonderful and overwhelming. It can be a winter wonderland of fun all mixed with the chaos of all the kids being home!
One way to make the most of your kids’ time at home is to incorporate some winter-inspired activities into your days. Depending on the ages of your kids, there are a million different crafts and activities!
Even if you are intimidated by the mess that comes along with crafting with kids, there are lots of options that keep things pretty clean.
And, if you’re in need of some inspiration, here are some ideas for activities to make the most of winter break with your kids. We’ve included a range from minimal mess and clean up to potentially very messy with lots of clean up to suit you and your family’s cleanliness comfort levels.
Minimal Mess Activities
Using a winter or holiday-themed puzzle (or any other one you have on hand), wrap all or some of the pieces in wrapping paper or tissue paper. This is the perfect opportunity to use the leftover, scrap, and oddly shaped pieces of wrapping paper that usually just go to waste when wrapping presents!
As your child unwraps their puzzle presents, they can put the puzzle together.
As the paper flies have a bag or bin on hand for them to appropriately dispose of. If you have older kids, they could shoot hoops from various places in the room in order to earn their next puzzle piece.
For younger kids, this is a great activity to practice their fine motor skills and strength by unwrapping the presents and tearing the paper.
There are so many ways to expand on an activity like this. Some families add in hiding the pieces like Easter eggs, some families make a whole game out of it with points for the basketball shots. The creative options are endless, and an activity like this can grow over time.
Contact Paper Ornaments or Tree
A fantastic hack to eliminate a ton of crafting mess with small children is clear contact paper. It takes away the need for glue which can be a huge mess-maker in kids’ activities.
A winter-inspired crafting idea that harnesses the magic and simplicity of contact paper is making ornaments.
To prepare:1. Cut out the center of a paper plate or cut out a “frame” with a piece of construction paper.
2. Cut or rip small pieces of colored tissue paper.
3. Cut out a piece of clear contact paper of the same size as your frame or plate.
4. Carefully peel the paper layer off of the contact paper to reveal the sticky side.
5. Stick the contact paper to the frame or plate with the sticky side exposed in the middle of the frame.
Now your child can add the tissue paper to the sticky contact paper.
If there is still sticky contact paper exposed, put another piece of contact paper over the tissue paper to “seal” it in.
These are great for decorating your tree, hanging in windows, and giving as gifts to family and friends! And, this is another great way to use some of the extra and random pieces of tissue paper you have left from all of the wrapping you’ve been doing.
Moderate Mess Activities
If you are okay with a little more mess in your activities and crafting with your kids, bring out a few more supplies!
Increasing the sensory element can be incredibly engaging for your kids, so incorporating things like playdough and kinetic sand is a great way to hook your kids into an activity this winter break.
When using materials like kinetic sand and playdough, keeping them on a tray or cookie sheet should help confine the mess.
Another great option for managing the spills is to lay down a large picnic blanket or towel under the play area. This way you can pick it up and shake it out without having little pieces of playdough or sand on the floor.
Playdough Winter Scene
Using playdough as a base, give your kids some small, winter-themed toys (trees, reindeer, Santa, etc.) to create a wintery scene. The dollar store often has seasonal toys like this available for cheap.
Younger toddlers will enjoy the sensory experience of sticking the toys into the playdough while older kids can get even more creative and make additional items for their scene with other playdough colors.
If you are looking to make your own playdough, it is surprisingly easy and fast! (Here is a recipe you could try). But, of course, store-bought is always an option without any extra work.
Digging in the “Snow” with Kinetic Sand
Start by hiding some small winter-themed toys or holiday-colored stones in a tray of kinetic sand.
Give your kids some tools to excavate and find the items in the kinetic sand “snow pile.” You could try small spoons, paintbrushes, popsicle sticks, etc.
Once the items have been unearthed, this could easily transform into a similar activity as the playdough scene above using the kinetic sand as the base.
Embracing the Mess Activities
Sometimes the mess is worth it! With the right preparation (and an attitude of accepting an inevitable clean-up!), messy activities can be a lot of fun with your kids.
If you’re feeling up for the mess, try doing some handprint painting! Paint their hands, have them use their hands like stamps, and make all different kinds of holiday and winter paintings.
These are great sensory activities for babies and toddlers. Older kids will enjoy the hand-painting, but also the additional steps of decorating the rest of the craft.
Using green paint and putting multiple handprints in a circle to make a wreath is a good option for a wiggly kid who can’t quite get one solid handprint to work with.
Another fun option would be to use brown paint on both hands to print “antlers” on the page. Then, draw the shape of a reindeer's face underneath the handprints.
There are tons of other handprint ideas if you look online!
Another fun kids' craft is making holiday and winter paper collages. This is another one that can go in so many directions depending on the age of your kids and the supplies that you want to use.
If you have a toddler, have them rip paper and glue it onto another sheet to create a wintery scene. You could also go even more simply by using holiday-colored paper and letting them glue their ripped paper wherever they want.
For toddlers, gluing can be a little intimidating. Using a glue stick or putting a little bit of school glue in a cup to be applied with a paintbrush are two ways your little one might have success.
Older kids might like to rip paper or find images and colorful areas of magazines to cut out and use. They might glue their pieces into an outside, snowy wonderland or a holiday party, or illustrate a scene from their favorite holiday story.
The flexibility leaves so much to the imagination, and our kids are filled with creative ideas!
Both of these crafts make for excellent holiday cards, ornaments, and gift tags.
Whatever you choose to do, have fun with your kids this winter break! Small moments and activities make for wonderful memories and time together.