Beating Cabin Fever with Toddlers

Little girl looking out the window

Unaltered image. LeAnn, Flickr. CC License.

There’s been pestilence at our house for way too long. In addition to the common colds and stomach bugs, we’ve had a round of RSV. The fun’s lasted for three weeks now, and with the extremely cold weather, it’s tough to keep two three-year-olds occupied indoors and maintain the adults’ sanity.

Lucky for me, the clearance sections at big-box retailers have been ripe for the picking.

At Meijer, I discovered Little Hands craft kits. Paper bag puppets, animals on craft sticks, and all kinds of other fun projects (sometimes as many as 20 and it includes a glue stick) came in a box. For a little over $3, you can’t beat the price. Now we have a menagerie, with some aliens and monsters sprinkled in, on our countertops, cabinet doors, refrigerator, etc.

While at Target (my home away from home), I found Cra-Z-Art projects on clearance. I scored a set of cardboard blocks that can be colored as well as a giant dry-erase floor puzzle. Huge hits with the kids!

We also have indoor sandboxes. This isn’t a project for the faint-of-heart. It can get messy, but it’s easy to clean up. Start with a smallish, shallow container with a lid that can be fastened on tightly. Ours are about 8 inches wide, 12 inches long and 3 inches deep. At the store, pick up birdseed, corn meal, dried beans or pasta, rice, aquarium rocks — anything with a dry texture. Combine them in the containers and provide small cups for pouring, spoons for scooping, and trucks for driving. The kids love it. Just keep the vacuum handy when you’re done playing.

When the kids aren’t sick, we like to take them to open play at a local gymnastics place. For a few bucks per kid, we get free rein of the gym, trampolines, foam pit, balance beams, and all the other fun things. It’s a great way to burn off pent-up energy and make new friends.

I’ve also been looking into the Michigan Activity Pass Program, which gets you entry to parks and museums around the state for little to no cost. The program is run through local libraries, so check to see if yours participates.

There’s also a ton of great kid-activity websites out there. What are a few of yours? What are some great indoor activities for your kids?

– Rebecca Calappi is a Publications Coordinator at Beaumont Health System and adoptive parent of multiples

4 Responses to “Beating Cabin Fever with Toddlers”


  1. 1 Katie February 26, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Thanks for the great ideas! I would like to try the indoor sandbox with my 2-1/2 year old daughter. I think it sounds better than the kinetic sand that my mother-in-law bought my daughter for Christmas. I have to admit that I promptly hid the box as soon as we got home from the holidays! I’d rather pick up dry beans off the floor than sand. 🙂

  2. 2 Rebekah February 26, 2015 at 10:06 am

    I know my library gives away free passes to the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum. It is such a fun place and it can definitely use up some energy that your littles might have.

  3. 3 Anonymous February 26, 2015 at 1:59 pm

    Thank you for such great ideas! Totally impressed with your creativity. It has been a LONG winter.

  4. 4 Anonymous February 26, 2015 at 2:00 pm

    Thank you for the great ideas! Totally impressed with your creativity. It has been a LONG winter.


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