When it's too cold for the sandbox

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Well, hello there!  Everyone waking up from the extended upheaval that is the month of December? Ah, the Monday after the holidays.  Back to work, back to routines… and April seems oh-so far away.

swings in the snowOn the plus side, my kids seem quite undeterred by cold and snow.  They would be quite pleased to just keep on playing on the swingset in the backyard, even if it’s coated in 3-4 inches of snow.  And sometimes, we do.  We pack on the puffy jackets, snowpants, and boots, and out we go.  But sometimes I just can’t handle all of the cold-and-snow prep, and it’s too cold and nasty.  So I’ve had to find some new indoor activities for my all-over-the-place 17-month-olds.

If it were summer, it seems they’d be at the prime age to start playing with sand and water tables.  We used an indoor version during one of the classes we took in the fall, and it was a big hit.  But I don’t have the table or the space or the patience for water all over my floors.

rice boxInstead, I share with you the biggest hit of the last few days with my kids: the rice box.  It’s not a new concept, not by a long shot, but I figured I’d put it out there for anyone in need of an idea.  Some people use rice, some use dried beans.  But it’s a fun way to play with texture and scooping and all of that.  And much easier to clean up than sand.  All you need is a wide, shallow rubbermaid container.  Throw in some inexpensive dry rice or pasta or beans, and add some good scoopers.  Measuring cups, sippy cups whose tops have long since disappeared, or anything else.  If possible, put a sheet or tarp underneath it for easier cleanup.

Will the kids keep every grain of rice inside the box?  No.  Will you have to supervise closely to minimize destruction and prevent the kids from eating it? Yes.  Will you have to unclench and accept the fact that the rice will still escape the area and require immediate vacuuming upon completion of the activity?  Yes.

rice box mess

But hey, it keeps them entertained for 5-10 minutes, so I’ll take it.

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7 thoughts on “When it's too cold for the sandbox”

  1. Our day care has a mini sand-box inside they use for rainy days. It’s basically a small Rubbermaid tote with beach toys. The kids love it and they just vacuum up the sand.

  2. This sounds like a good idea, I will try it.
    Another idea is to have “beach/ swim time” indoors. Make your bathtub an indoor kiddie pool with toys they don’t normally get at bathtime, let them have those colored bath paints, etc. and splashing around keeps them happy for a while.
    Also, play flashlights- indoor camping. Use the kiddie nylon play tent, dim the lights, pull out the flashlights and it can be fun for a change.
    Finally – BIG CARDBOARD BOXES. Endless fun going in and out of if you can get a hold of such boxes.

  3. Oh, my guys are warm-weathered southern babies, like me! I may have lived here for 15 years, but I still don’t think it should get below 30 degrees—-ever. And all that snow! The one time I put on the snowpants and took them out in the snow, they were horrified. Danny kept trying to go back inside and Abigail just wanted to sit on the step and watch Daddy snowblow.

    My best suggestion for indoor activities? Find someone who has a nice basement playroom and invite yourself on over! :)

  4. Love, love, love this idea. I’m betting my 4 year olds would get a kick out of it as well. . . just gotta find a box big enough for 3 kids to get around. hmmm.

    Another fun thing that keeps my kiddos (and me) from going bonkers is “painting” on the chalkboard. . . give ’em a cup of water, a paintbrush, and a paper towel and they’re occupied for a long time. We have an easel, but the little hand-held chalkboards would work too. So would a window :)

  5. Such great ideas! We are enduring our first winter outside of Texas (Canada now). We have never lived in or seen much snow. I have no idea how we are going to handle the winter with the babies now they are starting to walk.

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