Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Stuck inside with kids? Here are 13 fun things to do to keep them busy during Austin's freeze

Natalie Babyak, 6,and Oliver, 4, with their dad Trevor went  sledding at Deep Wood Elementary School on the last snow day in January.

OK, parents, what’s your plan? With many school districts switching to remote school on Friday and cold weather, ice and possibly snow in the forecast through at least Tuesday, we're going to need some creativity about how to keep kids busy while stuck at home.

Of course, you've learned from the coronavirus pandemic how to turn rooms into forts, classrooms, camping spots, home gyms, art studios and more. 

But here are several more ideas of what you can do this week if you can't leave the house:

Find museums' online resources: The Thinkery has some great online activities you can do with videos and step-by-step instructions. Find it at thinkeryaustin.org/thinkery-at-home.

The Science Mill in Johnson City has great interactive videos in its explorer zone, sciencemill.org/explorer-zone.

The Blanton Museum of Art has online activities resources including videos, blantonmuseum.org/educationresources/pk-12-digital-resources.

The Bullock Texas State History Museum has a Campfire Stories section online you can use to learn more about Texas history, thestoryoftexas.com/discover/campfire-stories

The Austin Public Library has great online resources for kids and teens including recorded story times and crafts. library.austintexas.gov/aplplus

More museum activities:Local museums, theaters switch to online offerings

Online theater for kids:They're engaged: Austin's Pollyanna Theatre Company figures out how to entertain kids in a pandemic

Plan and make a meal together. Haven’t gone grocery shopping and it's not safe to go to the store with our ice roads? No worries. We bet you can scrounge up some ingredients that you have on hand. Get the kids involved to see how creative you can get. This is also the perfect time to teach kids how to bake a cake from scratch.

Cooking with kids:Making macaroni and cheese from scratch

Cooking in quarantine:What we've been cooking when supplies are limited

Make recycled crafts. Dig through your recycling bin and the junk drawer for some found objects. Bring out the glue, the tape, the markers, the glitter, the stickers, the paint. Bragging rights or prizes could be awarded. There could even be judges.

More kids crafts:Craft ideas you can do with things you have at home

Get some exercise. Search YouTube for yoga for kids and do a session together. Blow up a balloon, move out the furniture in your living room and play volleyball. Play hide and seek. Have a snowball fight if there’s still snow on the ground.

Make homemade Play-Doh. DIY Natural has this recipe:

1 cup of flour (whatever kind you have on hand)

¼ cup of salt

½ cup of water

3 to 5 drops of food coloring

Mix together the flour and the salt.

Mix together ½ cup of warm water with a few drops of food coloring.

Slowly pour the water into the flour mixture, stirring as you pour. Stir until combined, then knead with your hands until the flour is completely absorbed. If the dough is too sticky, add more flour until it doesn’t stick at all.

Or make oobleck, which is one part water to two parts corn starch. Mix it in a zippered bag. Throw in some food coloring and get to playing.

Make slime now:Everything you wanted to know about slime

Make slime or play dough at home with materials you already have.

Hold a movie marathon in your house. Check out the Netflix, the Hulu, the Amazon Prime, Disney+ for the movies your kids haven’t yet seen, or show them some classics from your childhood. Pop the popcorn and enjoy.


‘The Snowy Day,’ by Ezra Jack Keats won a Caldecott Medal in 1963.

Bring on the books. Story time is great togetherness time. Build a fort out of sheets in the living room and use your flashlights to have a story adventure. Use your Austin Public Library card to check out virtual books, library.austintexas.gov.

Bring out the board games and cards. Start with Go Fish and work your way up to poker (no betting... OK, maybe just pennies). Have the kids invent and create their own board games. 

Make puppets. That sock that is missing its match, that lunch bag or gift bag make a perfect medium. Or eat Popsicles and use the sticks to attach paper characters to. (See we just wanted the Popsicle.) You can even create a play to go with your new puppet friends. If the lights go out, create shadow puppets using a flashlight.

Have a dance party. Oh, yes! Crank up the jams and get grooving. You can even introduce them to something from the 1980s. What?

Build a fire in the fireplace and roast marshmallows! Hot chocolate might also be required. Be safe while building it.

Fiza Baqai, right, enjoyed the January snow storm in Lost Creek by making a snowman with her brother, Faiz, left, and her sister, Anum.

Build a snowman. If there’s actual snow on the ground, build a snow man. OK, it will be tiny, but why not? One year, we used Mr. Potato Head parts to decorate the one we made.

Have a dragon contest. You know that puff of air that comes out of your mouth as you breathe when it's cold. This is the time to use it to your imagination. With lows in the 20s, teens, and maybe even single digits, we recommend going outside when the sun is out.  If you do go outside, remember tons of layers. We know kids in Texas don't have proper clothing, so if you don't  have mittens, layer up several pairs of socks. Put leggings under jeans or sweat pants, wear several hoodies and sweatshirts, keep that head warm with whatever crazy hats you have on hand, use towels for scarves. Get creative. No one is watching. 

P.S. If you’re really industrious, this would be a great time to sort through old toys and clothes to donate and organize the kids’ room. Hah! We didn’t think so.