We’ve rounded up our winter-break bucket list for kids with fun things to do at home and around town. We know that there’s often more mud and rain than snow during the holidays, so…no snow required!
Need more inspiration? Read 50 Cold-Weather Day Ideas for Kids.
1. Decorate cookies.
Prep sugar cookies for kids (you can use premade dough for ease, or try this fantastic Foolproof Holiday Cookies recipe from America’s Test Kitchen—tried and loved!) Then lay out a muffin tin with different colours of decorative sugar, sprinkles, nonpareils, and quins, and maybe some crushed candy canes. Set out some writing icing tubes. Then let the kids go crazy.
For younger kids, you might pre-frost cookies and chill so they’re set a bit before adding extras.
2. Paint the windows.
This sounds messier than it is! Megan at Coffee Cups and Crayons has a two-ingredient window-paint recipe. We personally love Crayola Window Markers, which are even neater, and at around $5/pack, they’re worth the investment.
3. Decorate the windows (paint-free).
If you want even less chance of a mess, you could buy window decals and have kids decorate with them. Not quite as free-form, but it keeps little hands busy. You can make your own DIY window clings—see a tutorial and download snowflake templates from Carol at Plentytude.
4. Dance away the day.
Learn some new dance moves! On YouTube, you can find dance videos and songs for kids, like Elmo’s Freeze Dance Party, Disney Dance videos, and Just Dance Kids videos that are lots of fun to groove to.
Kids might enjoy doing a workout video with you, too!
5. Play board games.
Kids as young as age 3 can play some games, like any memory-based games, Guess Who?, or board games especially for younger kids like Animal Upon Animal. For older kids, think beyond the Toys R Us games section and check out board game shops, whose staff geek out over giving recommendations for educational and truly engaging options.
Check out Board Game Geek online for recommendations and even video reviews.
6. Do puzzles.
Puzzles come in all shapes and sizes, for all ages. There are huge floor puzzles, 3D puzzles, block puzzles, foam puzzles, chunky peg or knob versions, and traditional versions with six pieces up to thousands of pieces.
7. Make bracelets or necklaces.
Beading necklaces is fun, easy, and has a low-mess quotient. If you’re more ambitious and have older kids, these popsicle stick bracelets from Michelle McInerney at Molly Moo Crafts are fashionable. And they’d make excellent homemade gifts from kids.
8. Play active indoor games.
Here are just some of the games you can play indoors that will get kids moving:
Huckle Buckle Beanstalk
hide-and-seek (with people or objects)
9. Make collages.
Get out the construction paper or poster board and glue stick! It helps if you’ve been saving catalogs and magazines and cool paper and stickers over time. Other fun collage items:
10. Cook together.
You’ve got to make meals anyway, right? Kids at any age can do something, whether it’s measuring, stirring, washing, mashing, juicing, garnishing, or setting the table. And everyone can get involved in meal planning.
Sure, food prep will take longer and be messier, but it’s quality time!
11. Plan a family movie night.
Make it an event: Decide on a movie together, make popcorn and stock up on sour-gummy candy. Create seating with big pillows on the floor and set the mood with some movie-themed props.
12. Make stationery or cards.
This is a good idea if kids have thank-you notes to write for holiday gifts. They can personalize stationery or blank cards with drawings, collage, paint, and/or stamps. then write or dictate thank-yous.
13. See a show.
The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol are traditional yuletide performances for families, but winter is prime season for all types of family-friendly theatre shows, from musicals to kids’ concerts to Cirque du Soleil and Disney on Ice.
14. Go swimming.
Indoor pools are open for free-swim time through winter at aquatic centres, city recreation centres, and at indoor water parks and wave pools.
15. Go ice-skating.
Once December hits, outdoor ice-skating rinks open. Many of them are free and also provide skate rentals.
16. Try rock-climbing.
If you’ve never been rock-climbing, you might be surprised that most facilities have kid-centric climibing days and times. You may have to take in intro course yourself to help them climb—or you can sign up for kids’ classes with an instructor. It’s a great way to keep active in winter.
17. Jump, jump!
Kids love trampolines, so it’s no surprise that they go crazy for trampoline centres and “parks”, with wall-to-wall bouncing spaces, ball pits, and fun games like trampoline dodge ball.
18. Play at an indoor playground.
These just-for-kids establishments are genius for those days when it’s too glum or cold outdoors, but kids really need to blow off some steam. Find an age-appropriate indoor playground and let them go wild while you take a breather from entertaining!
19. Head to a museum.
If you have a children’s museum in your neck of the woods, you’ve got it made. But art museums and history museums generally run special family programming and kid-friendly exhibits during school breaks, so be sure to check out what’s on.
20. Go to the movies.
During school breaks, check to see if your local movie theatres and chains are offering special matinees, Christmas movies, or second-run films at low prices. Cineplex Family Favourites films are $2.99 on Saturday mornings, for instance.
Or go all out and see a big-budget blockbuster like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, or the latest from Pixar.
21. Explore an aquarium or science centre.
Whether under the sea or up in the stars is more your style, science and nature centres offer fun exhibits and activities for kids. Like museums, they often have special programming and special deals during school breaks. Just go early to beat the crowds.
22. Do a “foodie” tour.
You’ve seen those hordes of food-lovers who trek to all the best ice-cream joints or bahn-mi shops? Do your own! What is your family crazy about? Hot chocolate? Pizza? Donuts? Pick a handful of spots you want to try around town, and hit them all—and compare notes.
23. Sign up for workshops.
One-off workshops are offered by museums, historic sites, parks, nature centres, art schools, and more during school breaks. Kids can try something new or delve into a subject they love in greater depth—anything from programming to pottery to trapeze!
24. Go to a sporting event.
It doesn’t have to be the NHL! See a semi-pro basketball team, a WHL team, an indoor soccer match, roller derby, or water polo.
25. Take a day trip.
Explore a town or attraction nearby. It could be an indoor water park, a resort with non-skiing activities for families, a living-history museum, or a town with a great attraction you’ve never tried like a wave pool, indoor trampoline centre, or an extra-cool skating rink. The point is to get into the car, get out of town, and treat it like a mini-vacation!
Find kids art classes, indoor sports centres, swimming centres, and more fun things to do in our Toronto/GTA directory.
READ MORE LIKE THIS:
Even more indoor and outdoor ideas (snow or no): 50 things to do on cold-weather days with kids!
Get the most out of your visit with our family insider’s guide to the Art Gallery of Ontario.
More ways to keep busy indoors: 15 great indoor play ideas!
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