Indoor fun with grandkids: Activities to brighten a gloomy day

The holidays have come and gone and the weather is cold outside. But don’t let it get you down in the dumps. The coming months are the perfect time for lots of cozy indoor fun with the grandkids. Try these ideas to brighten your spirits and strengthen your bond.
Make a tent or fort. Indoor tents and forts make for fun play areas, as well as cozy retreats for reading or watching movies. To build a tent, take several bed sheets, tablecloths or blankets, and drape them over tables or backward-facing chairs. For a more permanent structure, connect PVC tubing in the shape of a box then drape it with sheets.
Hold an art workshop. Gather the basics such as paper, paint and markers. Then scrounge around for a variety of recyclables such as boxes, toilet paper rolls, plastic bottles, caps, old magazines and anything else you can think of. If you have any crafting supplies like yarn, fabric or glitter, you can throw them in, as well. Now, let your family’s inspiration flow and create to your heart’s content.
Have a read-in. First, head to the library and have everyone pick a selection of books. At home, pull pillows and blankets out for the family room and spend the day lounging and absorbing your new reads. Another option is that everyone could take turns reading out loud from an age-appropriate chapter book or novel.
Learn self-defense. Buy or rent a martial arts DVD on basic self-defense. Then gather the grandkids to practice techniques that could help them escape a dangerous situation. As an added bonus, they’ll think they have the coolest grandparents in town.
Hold a magic show. Pick up some magic trick books or watch magic videos online. Then practice up and invite the neighborhood kids to come and watch your act.
Have a dance-a-thon. Crank up the volume to some pop, hip-hop or whatever your grandkids’ favorite music is and have them teach you some moves.
Play bakery. What better way to warm up the day and enjoy quality time with your grandkids than to bake up batches of scrumptious treats? Make a day of it! Once you’ve sufficiently sampled the goodies, freeze the remainder.
Sizzling science fun. Search online for fun experiments you can conduct at home with basic household products and ingredients. Perform several then make your own video of a really amazing one and post it on YouTube.
Do a game night. Pull out the cards and board games. Pop some popcorn. Put on some music. Then start keeping score to see who will be the night’s grand winner.
Do a workout. Physical fitness is important for everyone. But if you live in a cooler climate, it can be especially difficult to do this time of year. Look for a Hiit, Zumba or another cardiovascular exercise video with today’s hottest music and moves.
Paint a wall mural. Is your family artistic? If so, choose a wall in your basement, garage, mudroom or playroom in need of a personal touch. Before you begin, draw what you want to do on a piece of paper. Then pick up three or four quarts of primary color paints plus a quart each of white and black. At home, mix the colors to create additional colors and shades.
Have a picnic. Who said picnics are only for the outdoors? Put together all the workings of a picnic complete with a picnic basket, if you have one. Then spread out a blanket in your family room and enjoy the grub.
Tell stories. Write out a dozen or so story prompts each on a separate piece of paper and toss them all in a bowl. Take turns drawing a story prompt from the bowl and telling a story. Another option is for one person to start the story then go around the room, and each of you adds a sentence to the story. See how long you can keep the story alive.
Get cultured. Choose a culture your grandkids would like to learn about and experience. Find recipes from that culture online. Have everyone pitch in and help cook the international fare, even looking up mealtime customs for that culture so you can have the full experience.
Perform a puppet show. Pull out old socks or brown paper lunch bags and make your own puppets. Draw on the faces and use yarn or string for the hair. Take turns performing your shows.
By Kimberly Blaker
For Pittsburgh Senior News