We’ve spent the last year and a bit blogging about our best outings with kids in TOw. It has motivated us to get out of the house and try new places. So much so that the first thing out of my child’s mouth at 6 am is: “Where are we going today?”

After taking the first day of 2015 very, very casually (parents actually made it past midnight this year,) it was late afternoon when my five-year-old looked at me with a panicked look and said: “we didn’t go anywhere today!”

This comment got me thinking. Have I led them to believe that a day was incomplete unless there was a major outing? Shouldn’t be. So this year, as our family continues to cross the city for fun events, I also plan to add some new in-house activities to balance the around TOwn exploring.

Here are a few ideas to help entertain during down time or make home-time feel like an adventure.

(Couldn’t help myself – you’ll find some options for when you want to hit the road with Kids in TOw.)

Gamers: By this we mean board games and cards. We’ve just entered this phase and our latest favourite is Bellz. (It comes in a travel pouch so super easy to pack up and take on the go.) The Artful Parent pulled together this list of the best board games for kids. Card playing is in our blood. Before we teach them cribbage, we’ve been browsing this list of best kid-friendly card games.

With Kids in TOw: The City of Toronto’s Gibson House hosts a pay-what-you-wish board game night the first Thursday of each month. Lazy Daisy’s Café has a selection of board games for rent.

Take in some theatre: We received a special gift recently: a puppet stage. What started out with the adults acting soon led to the kids treating each other to their own stories. You can even take it to the next level and create your own backdrop and sock puppets (à la When you give a Moose a Muffin) or read their favourite story and have them act out the parts.

With Kids in TOw: Toronto Public Library branches host a Shakespeare in Action – free theatre on Saturdays. We also got our drama fix with the StoryMobs crew.

Light up: Our kids love their flashlights – so much so Santa brought each their own in the stocking this year. They have been used for flashlight tag, shadow puppets (some basics here) and reading in tents and home-made forts. Our latest flashlights have a couple extra colours which has sometimes led to pj flashlight disco prior to bedtime to burn that last extra bit of energy.

With Kids in TOw: What the skies light up at the Ontario Science Centre’s Planetarium. (Don’t bring your flashlights.)  

Crafting: There are millions of artsy activities online all depending on your kids’ interests and your tolerance of mess. The Kids Activities Blog is a go-to spot for inspiration. Totally not artistic? Just get some masking tape to create racetracks or indoor hopscotch. This Yummy Mummy Club blogger has some projects to keep the kids busy.

With Kids in TOw: There are great art spaces for kids like Oaks ‘n Acorns (drop in) and 4 Cats Art Studio (pre-registration.)

Build it: Hopefully you’ve kept some cardboard boxes from the holidays. I always have super creative ideas (browse this pinterest board) but before I can even attempt to execute, the kids are taking turns hiding under them, pushing each other around in the “cars” or “boats” or creating a “habitat” for their dinosaurs or stuffed animals. If building means Lego in your house, try adding marbles. I was inspired by this blogger’s post on how to make your own lego-marble maze.

With Kids in TOw: Most drop in’s and indoor play spaces have some type of blocks. There are some foam ones at Sky Zone for building and jumping. Or you can hit block-heaven at Legoland in Vaughan.