Be it a massive snowstorm on the East Coast or El Nino rains on the West, many of us face the possibility of days inside with the kids. No matter what your opinion on screen time and video games, they can only hold a child’s attention for a certain amount of time. I’ve worked to gather activity ideas for the kids that should, hopefully, utilize more brain power than only what’s necessary to stare at a TV.

Put Together a Construction Zone

You’d be surprised how many building materials you have in your home. Use toothpicks, skewers, or uncooked spaghetti to build a structure. Use any sort of stick with rubber bands to attempt a catapult or swing. Construct a tower out of plastic cups and cardboard. If you prefer more standard building materials, you can find new Lego patterns, like animals or cars, online.

Study Cause and Effect

As long as you’re building, have kids design a chain reaction Goldberg machine. You might not be familiar with the name, but you’ve seen a Goldberg machine. They take complicated routes, like a ball falling on a see-saw that flip a switch that continues on to eventually turn the page on a book or close a lid. A simple version of this would be to set up a dominoes track, even if you have to use books.

Get Some Dough

The internet is jam-packed with recipes for play doughs that offer a variety of sensory experiences: cloud dough, sand dough, and spices dough to name a few. Pick one that will intrigue your kids the most. Plus, making the recipe will distract the kids for an even longer period of time.

Go Rogue

If the little ones need a more active outlet, create less speedy obstacle courses with painter’s tape and couch pillows. The kids can be spies climbing through “lasers” of tape in a hall, jumping from one safe space to another, and climbing pillows and the sofa.

Blow Hot Air

Active games are tough to play without your children destroying the house. The solution to this might be balloons. They can play a variety of indoor games with this light “ball” that won’t break any fragile items. Keep the balloon from hitting the floor. Play a game of tennis or volleyball. Toss it into a basket!

Google Earth

I know it’s technically a screen, but Google Earth has a lot of great applications. You can travel not only the Earth to visit famous parks, landforms, and buildings like the Eiffel tower, you can go to the moon with Neil Armstrong, Mars with the Curiosity, or even back in time in cities. When you’re stuck inside, even a virtual trip to the outside world can be a relief.

Whatever your survival technique, I wish you not only survival but a chance for fun as your family stays warm together.