This blog post was written as an “Ask the Expert” for Parent Savvy: Winter Activities
December is chilly, but the holiday times are full of glittery lights and gatherings with family and friends that help us to forget the cold outside. January and February can be a tough months. It can be gray and cold outside. The spring weather that draws everyone outside to play is a few months away. Young children crave active play and time to move, but it can be hard when the weather is chilly and the days are short. Feeling the wintertime blues can be a common experience for caregivers of young children. Here are 9 ideas from The Learning Child Team at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension to keep you and your little ones busy and learning through the winter months.
1. Bundle up and take a walk in the sunshine.
Take advantage of days with less extreme temperatures to be outdoors. Observe the winter changes and talk with children about where the animals, insects, and plants have gone during the winter months.
2. Build a Snowbox
If it is too windy outside to play in the snow, bring the snow inside. Fill the sink with some fresh snow or place the tub on a towel on the floor. It can be fun to build little snow people or play with toy cars, animals, or containers in a “snowbox”.
3. Indoor Active Spaces
Find indoor spaces where you can play. Faith organizations, community centers, and schools may have open gym times where your kids can run and get a dose of active play.
4. Deep cleansing breath… how about yoga?
There are many books, dvds, and even websites that provide instruction in yoga for children. Try different poses and pretend to move like different animals. Yoga is a great way to channel children’s desire to for active play and motion in a small, indoor space. Yoga can be a great stress reliever for caregivers, too, on those days when you are feeling stressed.
5. Use your imagination…
Put on some lively calypso music and dance. You can even put the kids in the bathtub in their bathing suits. Pretend you are at the pool. Give your children a suitcase suggest they pack to go on a pretend trip to the beach. Your imagination can take you anywhere! Lemonade, anyone? Pretend play helps children build language and social skills.
6. Art, anyone?
If you have a big box around the house, use markers, masking tape, and paper to turn it into a sailboat for an imaginary journey. Boxes, bottles, and other beautiful “junk” can be great fun for children to use for constructing all sorts of things. Take photos to document your amazing creations and recycle the materials when you are finished playing with your constructions. Set up some drawing materials by the window and encourage your child to draw what they see. They might draw snow on trees or simply try to scribble the directions the snowflakes are flying.
7. Cook your blues away!
Focus on healthy cooking with your kids. Your child might enjoy helping you prepare a hearty vegetable soup in the crockpot. Let your child help you wash the veggies and do other age appropriate mixing and cutting of soft veggies. They will be proud of their creation and even excited to eat their veggies. If you need some ideas, we have a Pinterest board created for Healthy and Fun Foods for Kids.
8. Check out your local library.
The children’s department can be a great place to meet other families. Many library branches have family story times for families and young children. You can find books, music, and other media that can fuel children’s learning and curiosity.
9. Try some cold weather science!
How long does it take for a cup of snow to melt when you bring it indoors? How long does it take for a cup of water to freeze into ice? Make a prediction and then see how close your guess is to the answer. Predicting, observing, and recording information are all great skills for budding scientists to develop.