When the temperatures drop, cabin fever can set in big time for kids—and as any parent will attest to, it isn’t a good look. In order to avoid snowy (or rainy) day madness, it’s crucial to have an arsenal of creative games and new ideas on hand. If you’re looking to boost your creative kids’ imaginations, here are 10 ideas guaranteed to be a hit in your family.

1. Set Up Pretend Play Time

Sarah McClelland

Approximately zero children dislike playing grocery store, and what better time for them to channel their inner check-out boy or girl than on a cold day? Gather up cans of food and other nonperishable items (because nobody needs to find an errant apple in the couch cushion weeks later) and set up a little store for your kids. If you have a pretend cash register on hand, perfect (hello, kids learning games!). But if not, a calculator should do the trick just fine. Clean up on aisle five!

2. Break out the cardboard box.

Rust and Sunshine

There's a reason the old joke "kids can get a million presents and only want the box" is so pervasive—it's true. Cardboard boxes can be turned into a million and one different things (castles only begin to scratch the surface), and little ones will be amazed at each incarnation. For serious inspiration, check out these 19 incredible cardboard box creations.

3. Provide the Props

little medical school
Little Medical School

Doesn't matter if it's a pediatrician or veterinarian, kids always get a kick out of having the word "doctor" before their name. However, instead of using old kitchen supplies and 17 Band-Aids for your next round of MD play, consider the awesome and adorable kits from Little Medical School. They're stocked with everything your kid needs to set up shop. For example, the sports medicine kit comes with a white coat, student doctor badge, ace bandage, skeleton poster and stickers, craft sticks, sutures, rubber bands, face mask, surgical driver, and much, much more. Far more impressive than the broken plastic stethoscope at the bottom of your toy bin.

4. Create a craft basket.

Zhao! via Flickr

Just like the messy junk drawer that never seems to lose its allure, a craft basket holds an air of mystique and endless untapped potential for kids. Toss paper scraps, markers, tape, stickers, and anything else you can get your hands on into a basket or box and watch your kids go to town—and don't be surprised if you find yourself thinking, "Why didn't I think of that?" at your kids' incredible creations.

5. Take an Imaginary Vacation

Miss Izs via Flickr

If you're finding yourself in weather that's far from the flip-flop-wearing kind, go on a trip—in your living room. Have your kids don their swimsuits and sunglasses, and lay down towels for a few hours of beachy-keen fun. If you still have buckets and shovels on hand, break them out! And of course, blasting island-inspired tunes is a necessity.


6. Let Your Kids School You

Jimmie via Flickr

Another game that never—really, never—goes out of style with the younger set is school. Pull up a chair and let your little one drop knowledge on you. Be sure to ask questions and get in plenty of hands-on work together. Practicing penmanship and sight words while getting in some fun? Win-win.

7. Put on a Puppet Show

Sam Champan via Flickr

No puppets? No problem! Creating the characters for a puppet show is part of the fun. Scrounge up anything you can find around the house that could be transformed into a puppet—oven mitts, brown paper bags, old socks—draw (or stick) googly eyes on them, create a small stage, and get ready for big laughs! Whether they're the ones putting on the show or cracking up in the audience, kids are sure to get a kick out of this one.

8. Play Charades

Erick Eckel

A great way to get the wiggles out is a good old-fashioned game of charades. Pick characters from your children's favorite books and movies and see if they can guess who you're acting out. Also, by having them do the acting, you're getting them to think and exercise a part of their brain they probably don't use every day. This will definitely become a family favorite.

9. Tell your favorite stories—with a twist.

Jules Fishelman via Flickr

Instead of telling your kids the same stories they've heard over and over again, mix it up! Change the characters, settings, even the endings! And better yet, have them give it a go. Sit back and listen as the stories get wackier and wackier with each telling.

10. Read books.

Penn State via Flickr

Nothing quite says "cozy" on a chilly day like cuddling up under a blanket with a good book. And the best bonus of all? Your kids' imagination will grow with every turn of the page. 


What do you do when cabin fever starts to set it for your family? Share with us in a comment below!


Imagination Takes Practice

19 Cardboard Box Creations That Will Blow Your Mind

Pretend Play You Can Set Up (& Enjoy!) In One Afternoon

The Ultimate (& Mostly Free) Dress Up Checklist

Nicole Fabian-Weber

Feature photo courtesy Brittany Randolph via Flickr


kids imagination

Your daily dose of joy and connection
Get the Tinybeans app