Beating the Winter Blues
The holidays have passed, we’ve rung in the New Year and now… we have winter! It is hard to entertain children when the Chicago weather hits the negative degrees! In this article, we’ve put together some of our favorite winter activities to beat the winter blues.
Make the most of car ride. There are so many fun games and ways to make the most of car rides. Play “I Spy” with Colors, Pets, Items in Nature. Sing-alongs and playing music are also a fun way to engage with your child. You can also select different parts and take turns while singing in the car together.
Have a family game night! Games are such a good way to practice so many very important skills including turn-taking, fine motor skills, sequencing, colors, attention, and dealing with winning/losing. Some of our favorite at Black Bear are: Pop the Pig, I Can Do That (Dr. Seuss Game), Candy Land, Twister, Hi Ho Cherry Oh! and Uno.
Dance Parties! Make a playlist together with your child. Talk about your favorite songs and why you like each! Make sure that you incorporate songs with different tempos, some that are fast and some that are slow. Match your dance moves to the tempo of the music. Also, take turns imitating each other’s dance moves. There are so many neurological benefits to music. It activates the right brain, which is the opposite side of the brain from language. By incorporating music, you are activating both sides of your child’s brain and reaping these benefits, while enjoying a fun and enjoyable activity together. At Black Bear, we incorporate music and consider certain songs to be ‘anchors,’ which help transitions, class expectations, and sensory breaks!
Create a Family Tree. Here’s a wonderful and personal project that incorporates asking questions, writing, storytelling and family history – record your family tree! Start with your immediate family and talk about when Grandpa and Grandma were born, where they live, and go from there…. This will give your children a visual of their family, how they are all connected, and how they all belong.
Snow fun! Get out and play! When the perfect snow comes through Chicago, it is always a blast to get the kids bundled up to go outside and play! Make sure to have them help you put their snow pants on, hats, scarves, and even zipping their coats! This is great daily living skills, and it also incorporates a component of sequencing that we work on daily in the classroom! Fun activities may include making a snow man (talking about the parts of the snowman’s body), snow angels, or take the kids out for a sled ride! Make sure to add a string so you can take turns pulling the sled down the street! This is great heavy work for their little developing sensory systems and will also give them a chance to get out for some fresh air!
Indoor Winter “Sports.” Mountain climbing, Ice Skating, snowman building, OH MY! Enjoy winter sports in the comfort of your nice, warm home. Build mountains with couch cushions to climb over! Use paper plates as ice skates to glide across the floor and use play doh to build the perfect indoor snowman. Each of these activities provide movement and support overall regulation while being inside during cold negative temps.
Multi-Sensory Winter Play. Flood a baking sheet with water and freeze! This makes a perfect ice skating rink for some arctic animals to slide around on, or perhaps for their favorite Superheros! Another fan favorite at Black Bear is using flour as ‘snow” and having construction vehicles drive around the snowy pan, dig holes, make hills, etc. It makes a mess, but it’s truly a blast!
Read Everyday. Winter time is truly the best time to curl up on the couch with your child and dive into some great books. There is truly so many benefits to reading that will enrich your child’s language, academic skills, and their imagination! Talk about the characters, have them point out different small details in the illustrations, and talk about what is happening, as well as what they think will happen! You may also choose to take your child to the library and show them the endless number of books available. Many local libraries have wonderful children’s sections that incorporate audiobooks, and ways to engage pre-readers in books.
Hope you enjoy!