Kids winter fun for less

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by Sara Noel

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Winter is upon us. The kids get cabin fever quickly when their outside free time is limited. You're looking for some fun things to do before you all start climbing the walls. You don't need a wallet full of cash to enjoy the cold, snowy days. There are all kinds of frugal ways to enjoy the winter season together both indoors and outdoors. Here are a few frugal boredom busters to have as your 911 "plan" for the winter blahs.

Outdoor Fun

  1. Homemade Snowman Kit - It's just not winter fun without building a snowman. Assemble a snowman kit to have handy. Your kit can contain a hat, scarf, mittens, plastic carrot nose, charcoal briquettes, buttons, and two dowels or branches for arms.
  2. Obstacle Courses or Winter Olympics - Jump over the mounds of snow or have relay races.
  3. Snow Paint - Mix food coloring and water and add to spray water bottles and spray the snow to make colorful works of art outside.
  4. Homemade Bird Feeder and Bird Identification - You'll need large pine cones, peanut butter, and birdseed. Add peanut butter to pine cones and roll in birdseed. Keep a journal of birds in your yard. You can borrow a field guide from your local library.
  5. Snow Ice Cream - Mix together a quart of milk, an egg, 1 cup sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract in a pan. Cook on stove top until mixtures thicken and cool to room temperature. Pour this mixture over fresh snow. Or mix 3 cups loose clean snow, 2 tablespoons milk, 1/4 cup sugar, and 1 tsp. vanilla extract.
  6. Snow Golf - Use a tin can buried in the snow for the holes or just carve out holes in the snow.
  7. Winter Photography - Take pictures of nature, such as icicles, birds, trees, etc.
  8. Identify Tracks in the Snow - Check out a book from your local library on animal tracks.

Indoor Fun

  1. Paper Airplanes - See
  2. Make a Snow Gauge - Mark inch lines on a coffee can or plastic liter bottle with the top cut off and set it outside to catch snow in.
  3. Mister Grass Head - You'll need a nylon knee stocking, grass seeds, potting soil, a baby food jar and wiggle Eyes or glass paint/markers.

    Using hosiery, place some grass seeds in the toe, which is where you want the grass to grow. The hosiery is the head and the excess will be placed in the baby food jar to soak up water. The toe of the hose is the head and the grass will look like hair as it grows. The baby food jar is the body. Add some potting soil in the end of the hosiery on top of the seeds. Make sure the hosiery of seeds and soil is bigger than the opening of the baby food jar.

    Tie a knot in the hosiery to keep the seeds and soil in. Completely soak the soil/seed ball. Place the hosiery in a baby food jar filled with water making sure the head is above the mouth of the jar. Decorate the jar to look like Mister Grass Head's clothes.
  4. Smores - For indoor smores, you'll need 1/3 cup light corn syrup, 1 tablespoon butter, 1 (12 oz.) package chocolate chips, 4 cups honey graham cereal, and 1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

    Bring corn syrup and butter to boil. Lower heat and add chocolate. Stir until chocolate melts. Add cereal and marshmallows and stir. Put in square pan, covered with foil. Let set and cut into bars.
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  6. Shadow Drawing - Take brown grocery bags and tape together until you have enough paper to be the same size as your child. Have your child lie down on the paper bags and trace your child's outline. Your child can then color her "shadow" drawing to look anyway she wants.
  7. Homemade Toys - Decorate a paper towel tube. Paper punch a hole about an inch from the end. Now tie a mason jar ring to a piece of string about one foot long. Attach and tie the loose end of the string through the hole in the cardboard tube. Hold the tube and flip the ring up and try to catch it onto the tube.

    Or try taking a plastic, styrofoam, or paper cup and poke a small hole in the bottom. Run a piece of yarn through, tie it securely in place, and add a large button on the loose end. Catch the button in the cup.
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  9. Bubbles in the Bathtub - It's fun to blow bubbles indoors. You'll find some homemade recipes at
  10. Homemade Bowling - Use empty water bottles or coffee creamer containers as the pins and find a spare ball to roll.
  11. Indoor Snowball Fight - Wad up newspaper balls and have a snowball war inside.
  12. Homemade Hot Cocoa - Nothing beats the winter chills away after a day of snow fun outdoors than hot cocoa. Make your own with this recipe.

    2 cups nonfat dry milk
    1 cup white sugar
    1/2 cup cocoa
    1/2 cup non-dairy creamer
    1 pinch of salt
    miniature marshmallows

    Combine ingredients and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Add 4 tablespoons of mix to a mug and add boiling water. Stir.
  13. Window Fun - Crayola Window Writers are a product that writes and easily washes off of windows. You can also purchase spray snow for windows.

Sara Noel is a freelance writer and the Editor/Publisher of, and Visit these sites for information on getting back to basics through frugality, gardening, organizing, home keeping, lost arts, simplicity, homesteading, and natural family living.

Take the Next Step:

  • Consider these 10 kid-friendly tips for surviving long winter days.
  • Don't allow debt to prevent you from providing for your family the way you would like. Start taking the steps to get out of debt today so you can give your family a better tomorrow.
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