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Don’t let miserable weather get you and the children down, delve into your cupboards for odds and ends and use our boredom-busting indoor activities and craft ideas to keep them entertained indoors.

Here are some clever boredom-busting indoor activities and crafts to keep children of all ages occupied when they can’t venture outdoors.

For toddlers

Music mates

Make a tambourine: Get your child to colour in the backs of two paper plates. Staple them together, putting in beans or rice before sealing it. Then add ribbons or streamers.

Make drums out of old coffee tins: Clean the tins, then paint them or wind ribbons around the outside. Put the lid back on and get drumming.

Home-made playdough

This is one of those indoor activities that smaller children never tire of because they love the idea of making it themselves. Plus, they’ll have spend several happy hours creating and modelling with the finished product.  Playdough is easy to make (and edible). Put one cup of flour and one cup of salt into a plastic mixing bowl. Let your child mix it before slowly adding one cup of water and a few drops of food colouring. Knead the dough until smooth and elastic, but not sticky. After that, let the children roll it out, cut it with cookie cutters or make any shapes they like.

Paint patterns

Drop blobs of paint onto a piece of paper, and get your child to blow through a straw to make interesting shapes and creatures in the paint. Or, put paint onto a sheet of paper; fold it in half while the paint is still wet and push the paint around. Unfold it to reveal interesting patterns.

Kings and princesses of the castle

King’s crown: Cut a wide strip of cardboard to fit around your son’s head. Cut out points in the top of the crown, colour  and decorate. Try making jewels out of coloured paper and sticking them on. Staple the ends together.

Princess’s crown: Draw a crown on a piece of cardboard, then cut out, colour in and decorate it with glitter and stickers. Cut a strip of cardboard to fit around your daughter’s head, fix the crown onto this, and staple the ends together. Make a wand to go with the outfit.


When it comes to indoor activities for older children, you can really get creative and they can do most of the making themselves.

Coffee-can stilts

Get two same-sized coffee cans and turn them upside down. Ask dad to make holes in each side of both cans. Push the ends of a piece of rope through the holes and tie together inside the can. Make sure the rope is the same length on both cans and that it is long enough to hold onto while walking.


These are fun to make and children can use them to put on a play. Let your child cut out holes in a paper plate for eyes and a mouth. After that, they can create a character of their choice, from a lion to a princess by colouring in and decorating the mask. Use extra paper to make ears, or wool to make hair. Add some teeth for a monster or a tongue for a frog. Fasten elastic onto the sides of the mask so that it fits onto your child’s head.


This one falls within the category of slightly messier indoor activities. Papier-mâché maracas may be messy to make, but are loads of fun. Fill a balloon with a few beans or some rice. Blow up the balloon to your desired size and tie it off. Attach a small stick or straw near the knot. Make a papier-mâché mixture by adding one part flour to two parts water and mixing until smooth and sticky. Dip strips of paper into the mixture and use these to cover your balloon. Leave it to dry, then pop the balloon with a pin. Finish off by painting your maracas.

Fly a kite

Attach two dowel rods at right angles to each other. Cover this frame with thin material and attach it to the ends using wood glue. You could also use strong paper or plastic. Tie some string to the centre of the frame and wind the length of this string around a piece of wood for your child to hold while flying the kite.

Treasure box

Create a special box to store precious keepsakes. Girls can cut out pictures from magazines or from old photos, or you can help to cut out pictures they like. Get your child to glue these pictures onto a shoe box. Once the glue is dry, cover the box with a sealant or clear lacquer spray and leave to dry.


To dye for

Tie-dyeing is great fun, but can be messy, so do this in the garage. Make your dye in old containers, and keep a bucket of soapy water nearby for rinsing hands. Get some white shirts and tie off wherever you don’t want them to be coloured, using string or elastic bands. Following the instructions, dye the shirt and leave it to set overnight. Then remove your ties, rinse the shirt and wash it separately (the dye will run for the first few washes). Try making different patterns or using two or more colours.


Cut door-shaped holes out of opposite sides of a cardboard juice carton, and paint the outside. Decorate it with buttons or paint and use sticks to make a roof. Make a small hole underneath each door and pass a stick through them, so there is room for birds to sit on either side. Fill up with birdseed and leave in your garden for the birds to find.

Into the future

Robots can be as easy or as complex as you like. Use old boxes, tinfoil, toilet or carton roll tubes, and egg boxes. You will also need glue, sticky tape and maybe silver spray paint. Use a larger box for the body, and a smaller one for the head. Add paper rolls to make arms and legs, and to join the head to the body. Egg boxes can be used to make a helmet or hands. Spray paint or cover it in tinfoil, and add eyes and a mouth. Try making a robot dog.

Budding entrepreneur

Clay beads or flowers can be used to make beautiful, unique jewellery. Get air-drying clay from your local craft shop and use it to make beads or flower shapes. Ask your craft shop about colouring the clay, or what paint you can use on it. Mix different coloured clay to make swirled beads. Make a hole through the beads and leave to dry. Thread them onto string or ribbon making sure it can fit around your child’s neck or wrist.

Stock up

Pop into your local craft shop to stock up on a few handy extras.

  • air-drying clay
  • cardboard
  • paint/crayons
  • dye
  • ribbons/string
  • wood glue
  • clear lacquer or sealant

Boredom-busting is not impossible when you are armed with creative ideas and have resources and recyclables at your disposal.  For more fun family things to do during the winter, click here .

Tamlyn Vincent