This winter has been unlike any I can remember in Lincoln, with extremely sunny and warm days (today, 60s!), so there isn't a lot of playing in the snow. We've had maybe 5 inches of snow altogether from October through early January, but with it melting so quickly it's been easy to play outside daily in the sun this winter. Normally over the winter we would have the kids try to be outside at least 1 hour per day, even in freezing temperatures, to get fresh air, move around, yell, and get their energy out. This year we've been playing at parks, taking after-dinner walks, and enjoying down-time mostly outside. There are a few things I schedule every winter because, normally, it's cold, dark, and we may even be home-bound for days at a time without stuff on the calendar.
A few things we participate in every winter are two classes my kids have grown to love:
1) Preschool Music at Around the Corner Music Studio. For 10 sessions at a half hour each, they are just the right amount of time for short attention spans and it works great in the day, too-just a fun activity right before lunch. The owner, Mrs Susie Munns, is energetic and draws each child out. Her creativity in teaching music to children is downright inspirational. The kids LOVE her, and all the instruments they play and activities they do in her class. I often think she must put in at least 2 hours of work for every 30 minutes of class. She's just that good.
2) Swim lessons at the local YMCA. This will be Lukka's third swim session, and Ani's second (she did Float 4 Life with an independent instructor) and L, being the big guy, is in a class with other friends and the teacher and his first class like that went great. The other two sessions I had been with him, starting at 2 years old, but he has grown to be much more confident in the water, and seems to be enjoying it a lot now that he's in his own class. That leaves me with Ani, my little fish, who is extremely confident in the water (almost frighteningly so), and this will easily be my last class with her as she'll progress on to Lukka's class level next time.
Both of these classes come out of our yearly home-school budget, so we never have to think twice about it, and they are great winter activities because they're both indoor, and involve movement of some kind.
One thing we often find ourselves doing often in the winter is visiting the library much more than in the summer (we haven't gone to a Toddler Time or a Preschool story time in a long time, months...but I hope to take that up again around April).
We do a lot more art projects with the kids like free-drawing and free-paint time. Just this morning the children sat at the table doing stamps (yes, my old stamp pads and rubber stamps!) for over an hour, happy as larks. The Artful Parent is an excellent resource for creativity with small ones.
We still do a scheduled 'school-hour' at any point in the day, but most often it's from 8:30-9:30, as we're all our best and up for a challenge in the morning. Our school days usually consist of 3-4 subjects, a poem & song that the children memorize and recite daily, and a bible story. On Wednesdays, we do 5 subjects instead, and on Fridays just the poem, bible, and song before free reads and a movie (they are only allowed to watch TV on Friday's and sometimes on the weekends), so that is a big treat for them.
We bust out the board games, and rotate them every week. There is a new puzzle every week in their school shelf as well, to keep things fresh and interesting, and a rotating book bin that is mindfully seasonal next to the couch.
Lastly, something I really try to shoot for in independent (or sibling) play for 20-30 minutes each day. Usually my kids get along enough that they will do this on their own, wander upstairs and play with each other and their imaginations, but sometimes I have to institute it. I put on the timer and they rush around to find their chosen play and I work like a maniac to get the house tidy, the dishes in the dishwasher, and school-time stuff set up (or put away), gather a snack for the both of them, and if there is any time left, put my feet up on the couch for a bit and read! It's a luxury and I'm refreshed to see them again and ready to join them for whatever is next!
Here are some excellent websites I've come across to keep things fun online:
*Storylineonline.net is a website where actors read children stories. Consider this a free audio/visual story book when you're trying to get your shower in. Similar to reading rainbow in the way that it only shows the pictures of the actual story book's illustrations.
*Brainpopjr.com --just discovered this website and although there is a hefty subscription price ($135/yr), there is a FREE 5 day trial, so use wisely. I've been tooling around on it and I'm liking it so far.
*Rhythm of the Home is a seasonal (quarterly) online magazine that has enough to keep parents and children busy for the season. Recipes, interviews, DIYs (even some from kids! cool!), articles, and play ideas, it is broken down the same with every issue: Warmth, Play, Celebration, and Connection.
*Free Audio Books for Children is an amazing resource for all classic children's lit. And yes, there is a large adult section, too.
*Some excellent art materials websites are: Bare Books (blank game boards, puzzles, and books for your children to author!), creativity kits by Arterro, or monthly mail art subscription Kiwi Crates, fun audio subscription Boomerang! or Sparkle Stories, or of course taking a local art or cooking class.
*Obviously, Pinterest is an excellent place to find activites to do with little ones if you haven't already signed up for it. My "For the Love of Learning" board is all home-school and child related.
In town I know of Lux Center for the Arts that is very kid friendly and Art & Soul even has home schooler classes & punch cards, and don't forget Lincoln Friday Classes!
Now...you can't possibly be bored this winter!