As I was strolling through the grocery store this week, yellow spring buttercups drew my attention to the sunshine of spring with delightful thoughts of playing outside with the children.
As I stepped out of the store to go home, I quickly realized we are far away from spring as the cold central Alabama winds hit my face.
I really enjoy the season of winter and all the fun and seasonal delights that it has to offer. But many times children, as well as adults, get the “blues” or “blahs” during these winter months. When my son moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, his aunt who had also lived there told Gus to pack a sun lamp and to pack his CD player with his favorite music to play during the long winter months. She told him it would be quite an adjustment after living in the south Alabama sunshine close to Gulf Shores.
As teachers and parents of young children, being inside with young children during the winter months can be a challenge at times. As early childhood teachers, we provide a variety of activities to keep young children motivated and provide an outlet for them to be physically active during the teaching day.
Listed below are some activities I have done — and some I have learned from fellow teachers and moms — to help your little ones beat the winter blues and to keep them from getting bored.
In the summer we build sand castles, but in the winter we can build box castles. To do this, collect cardboard boxes of various sizes; use what you have around the house. Tape the box flaps shut to make a stackable box. Use crayons to decorate the boxes. Children love to stack these to make homes, skyscrapers, stores or just anything their little imaginations come up with. You can use white paper to cover the boxes in order to change the scenes.
Another fun activity that young children love to do on a dreary, cold, overcast day is to have a warm bubble bath. They love to blow bubbles all over the bathroom. Let your young children bring their favorite toys, such as plastic ducks, boats and plastic dolls that can withstand the water in the tub.
Another fun activity that young children enjoy is drawing and writing in shaving cream sprayed over a table. It provides hours of clean fun, and it’s neat to get that table cleaned.
Another way to ward off winter boredom is to go to the warmth of the kitchen to prepare creative winter treats. Icing cupcakes and cookies are a favorite of “little hands.” One very simple winter treat is to make marshmallow snowmen. Put three large marshmallows together with icing. Use raisins or miniature M&Ms for the eyes, red licorice sticks for the mouth, a chocolate kiss for the hat and pretzel sticks for the arms and legs. Fixing warm, healthy soups where your young child gets to help add vegetables, meat, spices, etc., fills the home with good smells and makes aa delicious, healthy meal enjoyed by all. In the classroom, I used to put my crockpot in a safe place and have my classroom children help me make soup. This presented wonderful hands-on math lessons with measurement, as well as science lessons of good nutrition and the sense of smell as the soup’s good aromas filled our cozy little classroom.
Other winter entertainment for young children includes dancing to music and grabbing up paper for your little artists to draw and cut for hours. Provide a craft box with odds-and-ends so that your children express themselves using their imaginations. Roll up sheets of white paper into little balls to have a pretend snowball fight. Young children will delight you with what they come up with on these cold winter days.
Moreover, puzzles provide endless hours of fun for young children and the whole family. Books provide entertainment for your young children on a winter afternoon. Children love to draw and re-enact stories.
Another winter activity that can be enjoyed is to purchase or make an inexpensive birdfeeder. Make a birdfeeder out of a pinecone by spreading peanut butter in between the crevices, putting bird seed on the peanut butter, then hanging the bird feeder. This is a wonderful science activity that you and your child can enjoy doing together as you observe birds flying back and forth to the feeder. Young children love to observe different birds flying up to the feeder to eat. You and your child can discuss the different colors and kinds of birds they are observing flying back and forth. Also explain to your children that they are helping the birds to survive winter.
I hope some of these simple ideas will help you and your child during these winter months to have warm fun indoors no matter what’s going on outside.