Just because there are fewer things to do outside as the temperature drops, that doesn’t give children (or adults) a free pass to be glued to a screen all day. According to the Craft & Hobby Association, 56 percent of US households (which is around 63 million people) craft at least once a year. Walk through the aisles of a craft store or dare to browse Pinterest and even the busiest parents will be inspired to create some memories with their kids this winter.


Wall Word Search

Yusuf Rasul, 11, of Elgin, Illinois, wanted a basketball theme for his bedroom. His mom was not too keen on plastering posters of NBA players on each wall for religious and aesthetic reasons. So they came up with an ingenious way to bring all his favorite players into his room without any faces staring down at them.

The mother-son duo bought pre-cut paper letters from the craft store (also available in the craft section at large grocery stores) and created a word search puzzle. Up and down, diagonal and backwards, they hid names of NBA athletes, which Yusuf and his friends enjoy finding whenever they hang out in his room. Instead of pre-cut letters, you could paint letters on the wall using stencils or, if you are adventurous, freehand. If you do not want to risk damaging walls, you can replicate the project on poster board and hang that instead.


Ice Art

Take the kids on a scavenger hunt around the house and gather containers of all shapes and sizes — the weirder the better. Empty cans of beans, silicone cupcake cases, food storage containers, a tray from an empty chocolate box…you get the picture. Fill a few jugs with water and add a different food color to each. Teach some color theory (by mixing blue and red to make purple for instance). Place all the containers outside (or in the freezer if it is not very cold where you live). Observe with the kids how ice forms quicker in small and shallow containers as opposed to wide and deep ones. In the days that follow, have the kids dress warmly and play with their ice blocks outside. Help them make towers and forts; just like a sand castle, but minus the beach.

Put a twist on this activity by pouring some undiluted tempera paint in an ice cube tray. When the paint is half-way frozen, insert Popsicle sticks and let it freeze completely. Let the kids have a blast with “popsicle paints.” Just make sure they don’t lick them!


Simple Scrapbooking

The long nights of winter are perfect for cozying up near a fireplace with some hot chocolate, looking through old pictures, and sorting through new ones. Most photo websites like www.shutterfly.com and www.yorkphoto.com offer free prints on your first order. Scrapbooking need not be expensive nor time consuming. If you are not aiming for perfection (with kids in tow, that is a good thing), you can gather some supplies from the dollar store and mix and match them with stuff you already have at home. Print a few of your favorite pictures from baseball games and Eid parties and have fun cropping and gluing them onto decorative paper. Add captions with funny things the kids say so you (and they) can laugh about it years from now. Add a few embellishments such as buttons, gems, paper flowers, or ticket stubs and programs you have saved throughout the year. Just slip your pages in clear, plastic sleeves and you have created a lifelong memory.

This year, don’t feel overwhelmed at the thought of how to keep your kids constructively occupied during too-cold winter days. Be willing to try out a few new ideas and, even if your project does not turn out as perfect as you hoped, the time you spend together with your children will be.