It happens every winter. Kids fall into the January doldrums. Despite the new toys that likely came along in December, the short days indoors can cause children to be bored or want to play video games all day. I, like many parents, won’t allow that! Some gentle redirection, and perhaps thinking out of the box, can go a long way towards getting through the winter.

Here are 7 ideas for indoor winter “play” for kids of ALL ages:

1. Experiment With Science

At home or outdoors, science is a fascinating, hands-on subject that makes learning fun. Whether you buy a science kit or hop on Pinterest to seek out home experiments, science activities are a perfect educational activity for the entire family.

2. Visit Second-Hand Stores

Find out what stores take for donations and ask each child to go through their drawers and closet to set aside gently-used items. Once you’re there you can allow everyone to do a little bit of shopping. You never know what treasures you’ll find for a bargain, and hunting them down is part of the pleasure.

3. Try A New Activity

Ice skating? Roller skating? What else is a bit out of your normal radius? We tend to fall into the trap of doing the same things but a quick visit to your area’s tourist website can give you some ideas.

4. Revisit Your Library

Most libraries offer a large children’s room with toys as well as books. Some even offer classes. Take a peek at their schedule and sign your kids (or perhaps even yourself) up for a few! Check out a stack of books to read together while you’re there too.

5. Head to the Mall

Let the mall take on new meaning. Organize a scavenger hunt for your older kids and have them head out with their phones or iPods to take pics of everything on their list. The winner gets an ice cream or dinner of their choice and losers can tag along to share the prize.

6. Get in the Water

Find a local YMCA, health club or hotel with a pool that is open to the public, usually for a nominal fee. Consider booking an overnight visit to an indoor water park. There are more of these opening and expanding every year and they are absolutely fun for all ages – moms and dads included!

7. Have More Family Nights

Rather than the kids settling down in their own rooms, create more family fun time by renting movies or DVD’s everyone will watch together. Let the kids make the snacks for the family. It could be homemade pizza, decorate your own cookies or muffins, or perhaps some flavored popcorn.

These are just a few ideas … you should also consider your climate. Winter sports like skiing, tubing and snowboarding are popular and in the south amusement parks and beaches are a year round event. Thinking of new things to do as a family helps bonding time, creates new memories, and helps kids through the winter doldrums!