When your kids have too much energy, it’s easy to open the back door and unleash them into the yard. Maybe they hop on a swing set, climb into a treehouse, play a good old-fashioned game of tag, or jump their little hearts out on a trampoline. However, when the colder, darker winter days roll in, outdoor activity can be limited. How can you stimulate your kids and keep them active when the sun sets at 5 p.m.—or even earlier?

While limiting screen time is strongly recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the internet is filled with ideas and activities that can help your children learn and grow all winter long. Supervising them or, better yet, doing the activities with them, will not only help you monitor their exposure to digital media, but also help you get to know their interests and talents a bit better. Here are a few ways you can keep your kids active and engaged during the colder part of the year.

YouTube Fitness

Kids are a force to be reckoned with. Just when you think they’re all tapped out, they find that second wind, and off they go again. This is great but can get overwhelming or even frustrating when cabin fever sets in on a snow day. Luckily, you can keep your kids active with an assortment of youth-focused exercise videos on YouTube. From yoga to dancing to acting like animals, there are child-themed fitness videos out there for toddlers, school-aged kids, and even teens.

The best part about these videos is that even though they may be goofy, silly, or require a little imagination, they can be a good workout for adults, too. You’ll have fun with your kids, release a little of your own pent-up energy, and create a sense of structure for everyone in the family.

Online Music Lessons

Do your children love to jam out to the radio? You don’t have to hire an expensive music instructor to help your children hone their skills. Again, the internet can help you find ways to engage your child’s musical sensibilities. The Music Teachers National Association has an array of resources for online instruction, but there are also free music sites and games to keep your kids making music. PBS Kids has all kinds of games for all kinds of ages, from exposing your kids to new musical styles like jazz to learning musical composition. Many of these use themed lesson plans that tap into other areas of interest for your kids, like animals. For example, dog-themed lesson plans urge your kids to learn about music while also learning about ways to care for dogs, the anatomy of dogs, and dog behavior.

It’s important to get an instrument in your child’s hands, but you certainly don’t have to. However, if your online music instruction requires practice, then you can be confident that you’re also teaching your child the values of time management, pride in hardwork, and natural consequences.

Online Drawing Lessons

Kids love expressing themselves through their imaginations. In fact, children’s healthy development relies on their ability to play and make believe. Giving them an outlet to express this creativity, while also teaching them drawing techniques, can be a great way to occupy their minds and hands during the winter.

Like with music lessons, you can hire an instructor, but once again, the internet can help bring lessons closer to home. From free step-by-step lessons to videos on YouTube, kids and teens alike can enjoy the art of drawing with online lessons.

You can always monitor these lessons by taking classes with your children or getting them excited about art by hosting an art gallery opening in your living room, sharing their art with friends and family online, or creating a portfolio where they can proudly display their progress. Once you tap into the imagination of children, the ideas never cease. Online drawing classes can help them discover their talents and get excited about creativity.

Getting Creative in the Car

Many families travel over the holidays, and that can be stressful for both parents and children. Keeping your kids’ minds and hands occupied for as much of the road trip as possible can help the holiday travel go much more smoothly. Here are some fun education activities they can do while you drive to grandma’s house:

  • Use a baking tray for a lap desk so your kids can continue practicing their drawing lessons.
  • Give them a velcro board with numbers to keep track of miles and calculate speed and distance.
  • Create a picture scavenger hunt of things you’ll pass along the way.
  • Play a collaborative storytelling game where everyone adds a line or two.
  • Have your children add, subtract, multiply, or divide the numbers they see on license plates.

Winter months don’t have to slow you and your kids down, especially if you think of ways to get your kids excited by indoor activities. Providing a balance between physical and mental stimulation will help them stay calm, focused, and happy year-round.

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