Spring in Wisconsin is an interesting time. There are absolutely gorgeous days when all you want to do is hang out. And there are cold and rainy days when indoor activities are necessary. There are even snowstorms (gulp).
Whatever the weather, children need entertainment and activities to pass the time. Here are 50 ideas for your family.
1. Go for a walk or hike. Find a nature trail or use your neighborhood sidewalk.
2. If you’ve never hiked with your toddlers, check out Hike It, Baby (hikeitbaby.com). They have some great tips and tricks.
3. Go for a bike ride.
4. A trip to a local museum, like Discovery World, the Milwaukee Public Museum, the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum, and the Milwaukee Museum of Art, can be a fun day trip. You can even try to do two or three in one day.
5. Do a food challenge with your family. Choose 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. Don’t forget they have a big playground!
7. Host a movie marathon. You can find tons of your kids’ favorites, or even childhood favorites on streaming services like DisneyPlus, Netflix, and Amazon. Make it even more fun by making special treats to share.
8. Speaking of special treats, bring your kids into the kitchen. Give them the pantry and refrigerator run. Give some limitations, however. As if they had to have at least one healthy element.
9. Support our home teams. Go to a Bucks, Brewers, Milwaukee Milkmen or Wisconsin Timber Rattlers game.
ten. Find a charity that means something to your family. Give what you can.
11. Help your neighbors by offering to clean their yard or mow their lawn.
12. Do something nice for family members, whether it’s making gifts or cards for relatives you can’t see in person, or surprising family members with a special note. love or a homemade treat.
13. Hide candies around the house for a fun scavenger hunt.
14. There are some great egg dye kits online. Take the classic Paas, of course, but also try out some of the fun variations you can find. You can do this for Easter or you can save the kits for another time.
15. Donate your phone so kids can take pictures 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 that there are more tag versions than we played before? My kids told me about the monkey bar etiquette and the freeze and melt etiquette. And, yes, even toilet etiquette. Ask your children what they play during recess. So play with them.
18. Visit designer spaces at local museums and libraries, or create your own creations at home. Check out some STEM-related websites for ideas if you’re confused.
19. Speaking of STEM, science experiments are fun. You will find options online. Or, just go for 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 garden. You can camp under the stars at night or just hang out with books and games for a few hours in the afternoon.
22. Plan a picnic. Encourage everyone in your household to help make something and have it outside if the weather is nice or on a blanket in the living room if it’s cold or raining.
23. Another way to make mealtime fun is to host a drive-in. Have the children use boxes to make their own cardboard car. Let them sit there while they eat their dinner watching a favorite movie on TV.
24. Delve into those toys, puzzles and games that have been buried under beds, in basements and at the bottom of toy chests. You might find treasures that fill some of those hours. Otherwise, set them aside to donate.
25. Do you have trees in your garden? Mount them.
26. Bubbles are fun for all ages. You can go old fashioned and just blow bubbles in the garden. You can also get a hula hoop and paddling pool and make them giants.
27. Search your children’s libraries for books they haven’t opened in a while. Snuggle up and have a nostalgic story hour.
28. Take blankets, chairs and pillows and build a fort. Stay there to eat, play video games, read or play board games.
29. Enjoy the beauty of the flowers and plant life as you spend time at the Boerner Botanical Gardens or the Mitchell Park Domes.
30. Make your own ice cream. It’s easier than you think. You just need half and half, sugar, salt, ice cream, vanilla and a plastic bag.
31. Gas prices are high right now, so you may be hesitant to take a long drive. Instead, take a short trip to a destination you don’t usually visit, like 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 can also play poker for candies. Or visit the Board Game Barrister to find a new board game.
33. Make a homemade piñata out of papier-mâché, fill it with candies and open it.
34. Make elaborate creations from Legos and building blocks.
35. Start cleaning up your yard and planning all your gardening projects. Visit your local garden store so you can start planting when the time comes.
36. Going to watch a movie. Remember to wear a mask if the level of COVID-19 in your community is high or if your children are too young to get vaccinated.
37. Take your kids to see a first-stage family production.
38. Children love to play, sing and put on shows, especially if they have an audience. Be that audience; karma will reward your sacrifice.
39. Watch how-to videos on YouTube. Let your children rise to the challenges. Film them as they get good.
40. Try a board game escape room. Or go to a local store like Sixty to Escape at Southridge Mall.
41. Comics and graphic novels have become mainstream these days. And they’re a great way to encourage your kids to read. When they’ve found inspiration by reading some of their favorites, give them the supplies to create their own.
42. Visit a pottery-to-paint place like La Terraza in Wauwatosa. Or stay home and find old cups or bowls for the kids to paint.
43. Do your kids have a few Christmas or birthday silver bucks? 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 hosting your own version, with different events and even rewards.
45. Clean out your closet. But withhold donations. Let your children play dress up for a few weeks. If they lose interest, donate the clothes. Otherwise, let them keep a few favorites for their costume collection.
46. Are your children bored with their wardrobe? Ask them to spice up their t-shirts, sweatshirts and socks with fabric paints and tie-dye kits.
47. Talk to your kids about what growing up in Milwaukee means to them. Did they do all those iconic things like find the rattlesnake button at the public museum or get on the zoo train? Make a to-do list, then do them.
48. If your kids haven’t seen “Mary Poppins” yet (or even if they have), watch the movie and get inspired by Bert by drawing with chalk on the sidewalks.
49. Play bingo and make it more fun by playing for prizes. Pack several dollar store purchases (or just fun stuff you have around the house) that each child can choose from when they win a game.
50. Indulge your kids’ inner self-centeredness and host a home video marathon featuring their favorite “movie star”: themselves!