Trapped at home with a bored little kid? Here are some ways to keep you and your one or two year old sane, without resorting to TV or fancy toys.
Go outside and play. It is safe to go outside in the snow with a toddler, just make sure that they stay bundled up. If they refuse to wear mittens, it should be fine so long as the temperature is above freezing. If they refuse a hat, they might find a hood acceptable. Be alert to signs of coldness or overheating. Crabiness, rubbing hands, or other exposed body parts, and paleness are all signs that its time to go inside and warm up. Use chapstick or something similar to prevent chapped lips, and consider using sunscreen on the face if it is a bright day. You can have fun dragging them around the yard on a sled, making tracks in the snow, or maybe even helping to make a snow man, or doing snow painting with squirt bottles filled with water and food coloring. Little kids often find shoveling snow a lot more fun than grownups do, so take advantage of it while you still can!
Play with snow indoors. If its too cold, or you lack the right clothing, you can still bring a large container that you have filled with snow indoors. Your little one can play with it in the bathtub or kitchen (just pick someplace where a wet mess can be cleaned up). You can make mini snowmen or run trucks around in it or just watch it melt. You can do science experiments like: will snow melt faster in the refrigerator or on the kitchen table? will it melt faster if it is salted or not?
Make sure you catch the snow plow at work. Trucks and machinery are especially interesting to toddlers.
Crafts. Toddlers especially may not have a lot of small motor skills for crafts, but they may still enjoy watching you and older siblings do things like cut snowflakes or paper dolls. Older toddlers may be able to cut snowflakes with a lot of help if the snowflakes are made from tissue paper. (Regular paper is too thick.) If not, you may want to try coloring, play dough, or finger paints. You could even make your own play dough or finger paints and let your little one dump and stir ingredients. Most toddlers can help with sticking things that are already cut out, so a collage or paper bag puppet might also be fun. Use stickers, tape or glue stick as an adhesive. Toddlers do not have the hand strength or coordination to use liquid glue.
Build something big indoors. Try cuddling up in a blanket fort, or racing through a couch pillow obstacle course.
Active games indoors. Toss socks or small balls into a laundry basket. Play Follow the Leader or Simon Says, making sure to include active motions like jumping, hopping, and bending.
Dance. Put in a fun CD or play some tunes on your iPod. Or sing “Ring Around the Rosy” until you are tired of falling down!
Read a few good books. You’ll probably read them over and over again, but enjoy it now, while your child can still fit on your lap!