Keeping our children active all winter long improves their physical and emotional health. Winter activities give kids a chance to have healthy social interactions, growth in their physical and mental skills and a positive self-identity. Many dark hours make it challenging for outdoor activities during the week, so here are some active, indoor ideas for your kids this winter.

Traditional Indoor Sports

Winter has always been the season for sports like basketball, volleyball, hockey and wrestling. Basketball and volleyball are unbeatable for kids who thrive in team sports, and hockey can be a fantastic sport for both girls and boys. Wrestling works well for kids who like to be in control their own performance while still also competing for their team. Swimming is wonderful in the winter and teams are thriving all over the Chicagoland region. For something different, try dodgeball, martial arts, gymnastics, skating or badminton; if your kids can’t get enough of their outdoor season sports, there are indoor soccer, lacrosse and flag football leagues for all ages. Check with your local park district or community center to see what is offered.

Drama, Dance, Art and Music

Drama and dance are physical activities that help your kids to improve their con dence, keep them moving and develop their brains. Check out Chicago Children’s Theatre, Lookingglass Theatre and Emerald City Theatre for creative acting and performance classes for kids of all ages.

For those who love dancing and art, a quick search of your nearest park district facility or children’s gym results in plenty of dance and art classes. In addition, professional dance companies such as Hubbard Street Dance offer classes for dancers aged 18 months and up.

Art gives kids a fun way to express their natural creativity. Ceramics, painting, drawing and photography encourage kids to be creative and active in observing the world around them.

Museums and Conservatories

Chicagoland has museums in every region that cater to children and active learning. The Chicago Children’s Museum at Navy Pier schedules weekly toddler activities, a painting studio and playgroups with special Family Free nights on Thursdays from 5-8 p.m. and Free First Sundays where kids 15 and under get in free on the first Sunday of each month. Wonder Works in Oak Park encourages kids to learn through art, performance, design and building. The Bronzeville Children’s Museum offers tours of active learning areas for kids ages 3-9. Other museums include the Kohl Children’s Museum, the Dupage Children’s Museum, the Oak Lawn Children’s Museum and the KidsWork Children’s Museum in Frankfort.

When the wind chills are frigid, visit Chicago’s historic conservatories in Gareld Park and Lincoln Park to take a warm walk in tropical air and fauna. The Garfield Park Conservatory has a Children’s Garden as well as other fascinating displays from around the world.

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Chris Palmquist is an USA Triathlon Elite Coach, USA Cycling Elite Coach and Youth/Junior Coach with 19 years of coaching experience. She has written for Chicago Athlete Magazine for more than 20 years. As a Team MPI Head Coach, she has coached athletes to regional, national and world class success. She is a USA Paratriathlon National Team Coach and Team USA Coach at the Rio 2016 Paralympics, ITU World Paratriathlon Series and High Performance Camps at the Olympic Training Centers. Chris coaches youth and junior triathletes as Head Coach for the MMTT Youth Triathlon Team and for USAT at national Junior Skills Camps. In 33 years as an athlete, she has raced several sports including triathlon (13 Ironman), collegiate rowing (Cornell 83-87), canoe/kayak, cross country skiing (20 Birkebeiner) and road bike racing. Chris is married with two kids. Favorite Quote: “Do Simple Better” ~Joe Maddon


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