By Michelle Mady
As a preschool teacher, January and February can be the toughest months to teach. Our outside time is limited and accompanied by all the winter gear. (If you have never tried to put 15 three-year-old children in boots, snow pants, hats, mittens and coats, consider it an event worth missing.) Finding ourselves in the classroom more and more as the winter progresses creates an opportunity to bring out some winter wonderland-worthy activities.
Finding ourselves in the classroom more and more as the winter progresses creates an opportunity to bring out some winter wonderland-worthy activities.
The best part about these activities is that they can be easily done at home, too! A snow day can be an hour of fun in the snow, followed by too many hours of kids in the house to entertain. Try some of these classroom go-to snow activities the next time the weather traps you inside, forcing you to entertain your toddlers and preschoolers for longer than planned.
Magic Snowflake Art
This is a small mess activity, but it actually starts with some coloring. You know those white crayons that come in the box and you never use? Bring them out and have your child make snowflake designs on a white paper. It will be tough to see, so use a light to shine under the paper to check you work.
Next step? Paint. Yes, this one involves paint - but hear me out! It is far less messy than typical painting with a paintbrush. Use some blue watercolor (or water down some tempura paint) and paint over the crayon designs. As the water color dries, children watch their designs pop to life!
Snow Sensory Play
You might be sick of the stuff outside, but your toddler is begging to go back and play in the snow. You do have a few options. You can fill a large container with some snow, put it on a towel in your house, and allow your child to play in the snow while you watch from the warmth of your couch. You can also make fake snow, using 1 part white conditioner and 5 parts baking soda. Add a little baking soda or conditioner to make it the right consistency and let your child build a never melting snowperson!
Strong fine motor skills are the foundation for writing skills. Why not support that development while engaging in a fun craft activity! Use pipe cleaners and beads to create fun snowflakes. These can be used as decorations for the house, but my girls like to turn everything into jewelry, so they became necklaces in my house. You can use a larger-sized bead for younger toddlers and smaller beads for older children. Try asking them to create a pattern or doing each part a different color. This can be a great activity that creates some calm for you once they get the hang of it.
What if there is no snow outside, but it is just too cold to go out and play? Create your own winter wonderland. Tape a piece of clear contact paper on your window, sticky side away from the window. Then, give your child cotton balls, Q-tips, tissue paper and any other material you have laying around the house. Children can stick the materials to the contact paper, making their very own scenic views.
Whatever your winter plans may be, some inside entertainment planning may be part of your “to-do list.” Having a few materials and ideas prepared can transform long winter days into fun family activities. Or, at the very least, get you an hour of calm time to recharge and refocus.
About the author: Michelle is a mom of 5 children ranging in age from 5 to 15. As a toddler and preschool teacher, she shares experiences, activities and guidance to other parents, as both a parent and as a professional early childhood educator, at any stage of their parenting journey.
Photo credit: iStock.com/casch