Spring in Wisconsin is an interesting time. There are absolutely beautiful days when all you want to do is get outside. And there are cold, rainy days when indoor activities are necessary. There are even (gulp) snowstorms.
Regardless of the weather, kids need entertainment and activities to pass the time. Here are 50 ideas for your family.
1. Go for a walk or a hike. Find a nature trail or use the sidewalk in your neighborhood.
2. If you’ve never gone hiking with your littlest ones, check out Hike It, Baby (hikeitbaby.com). They have great tips and tricks.
3. Go for a bike ride.
4. A trip to a local museum, like Discovery World, the Milwaukee Public Museum, Betty Brinn Children’s Museum and the Milwaukee Art Museum, can be a fun day trip. You can even try to get to two or three in one day.
5. Do a food challenge with your family. Pick out a few favorite snacks to see which brands taste the best, or close your eyes to see if you can taste the difference between canned, bottled and fountain soda.
6. The Milwaukee County Zoo is a great place to visit when the weather warms up. Remember they have a great playground!
7. Have a movie marathon. You can find tons of your kids’ favorites, or even favorites from your childhood on streaming services like DisneyPlus, Netflix and Amazon. Make it even more fun by making some special treats to share.
8. Speaking of special treats, get your kids in the kitchen. Give them the run of the pantry and fridge. Do give a few limits, though. Like they have to have at least one healthy item.
10. Find a charity that means something to your family. Give what you can.
11. Help your neighbors by offering to clean up their yard or mow their lawn.
12. Do something kind for family members, whether it’s making gifts or cards for relatives you can’t see in person, or surprising household members with a love note or a homemade treat.
13. Hide some candy around the house for a fun treasure hunt.
14. There are some great egg-dying kits online. Grab the classic Paas, of course, but also try some of the fun variations you can find. You can do it for Easter, or you can save the kits for another time.
15. Hand over your phone to let the kids take photos of the signs of spring they see popping up around the neighborhood.
16. Let the kids collect a few of those signs of spring they see — dandelions, blades of grass, flowers if they’re on your property — and make a nature scrapbook out of them.
17. Did you know there are more versions of tag than we used to play? My kids have told me about monkey bar tag, and freeze-and-melt tag. And, yes, even toilet tag. Ask your kids what they play at recess. Then play with them.
18. Visit maker spaces at local museums and libraries, or make your own creations at home. Check out some STEM-related websites for ideas if you’re stumped.
19. Speaking of STEM, science experiments are fun. You’ll find options online. Or, just go with a classic, like making a baking soda-and-vinegar volcano, or a Diet Coke-and-Mentos rocket.
20. Fly a kite.
21. Set up a tent in the backyard. You can camp under the stars at night, or just hang out there with books and games for a few hours in the afternoon.
22. Plan a picnic. Encourage everyone in your household to pitch in to make something, and have it outdoors if the weather’s nice, or on a blanket in the living room, if it’s cold or rainy.
23. Another way to make mealtime fun is to stage a drive-in movie theater. Have the kids use some boxes to make their own cardboard car. Let them sit in there while they eat their dinner in front of a favorite movie on TV.
24. Dig into those toys, puzzles and games that have gotten buried under beds, in basements and at the bottom of toy boxes. You might find some treasures that will fill up some of those hours. If not, set them aside to donate.
25. Do you have trees in your yard? Climb them.
26. Bubbles are fun for all ages. You can go old-school and just blow some bubbles in the backyard. You can also get a hula hoop and a wading pool and make some giant ones.
27. Search your kids’ bookshelves for books they haven’t opened in a while. Snuggle up and have a nostalgic story time.
28. Grab blankets, chairs and pillows and build a fort. Hang out in there eating, playing video games, reading or playing board games.
30. Make your own ice cream. It’s easier than you think. You just need half-and-half, sugar, salt, ice, vanilla and a plastic baggie.
31. Gas prices are high right now, so you may be hesitant to take a long road trip. Instead, take a short trip to a destination you don’t usually visit, such as the Fox River Park in Waukesha. The natural playground includes a huge slide built into a hill.
32. Play card games. Old Maid, Crazy 8s and Go Fish are all fun. You could also play poker for candy. Or visit the Board Game Barrister to find a new board game.
33. Make a homemade piñata out of papier-mâché, fill it with candy and break that thing open.
34. Make elaborate creations out of Legos and building blocks.
35. Start cleaning up your yard and planning any gardening projects. Take a trip to your local garden store so you can start planting when the time comes.
36. Go to a movie. Remember to wear a mask if the COVID-19 level in your community is high, or if your kids are too young to have gotten vaccinated.
37. Take your kids to see a family friendly First Stage production.
38. Kids love acting, singing and putting on shows, especially if they have an audience. Be that audience; karma will reward your sacrifice.
39. Watch some trick-shot videos on YouTube. Let your kids try out the challenges. Film them as they get good.
41. Comic books and graphic novels are mainstream nowadays. And they’re a great way to encourage your kids to read. When they’ve gotten inspiration through reading some of their favorites, give them the supplies to make their own.
42. Visit a paint-your-own pottery place like La Terraza in Wauwatosa. Or stay home and find old mugs or bowls to have the kids paint.
43. Do your kids have a few dollars of Christmas or birthday money? Let them search their favorite online toy store or Amazon to buy a treat. Or visit a local toy store.
44. Pretend to have your own Olympics in your backyard by staging your own version, with different events and even awards.
45. Clean out your closet. But hold off on the donations. Let your kids play dress-up for a few weeks. If they lose interest, donate the clothes. Otherwise, let them keep a few favorites for their dress-up collection.
46. Are your kids getting bored with their wardrobe? Have them spice up their T-shirts, sweats and socks with fabric paints and tie-dye kits.
47. Talk to your kids about what growing up in Milwaukee means to them. Have they done all those iconic things like finding the rattlesnake button at the public museum, or riding the zoo train? Make a list of things to do, and then do them.
48. If your kids haven’t seen “Mary Poppins” yet (or even if they have), watch the movie and take some sidewalk chalk-drawing inspiration from Bert.
49. Play Bingo, and make it more fun by playing for prizes. Wrap up several Dollar Store purchases (or just fun stuff you have lying around the house) that each child can pick from when they win a game.
50. Indulge your kids’ inner self-centeredness and have a home video marathon featuring their favorite “movie star”: themselves!