Winter can be a difficult season for the parent of a toddler or preschooler. Trying to get your child outdoors and active in the winter can be a difficult task that requires some imagination to come up with ways to keep them engaged. Here are a several fun ideas to keep them entertained and, at the same time, connect them with Mother Nature.
Kids love gliding down a snow-covered hill on a sled. All you need for this fun activity is some snow, a hill and a sled, tube, toboggan, or saucer. Sledding is great fun for all ages. But special care should be taken with toddlers and preschoolers. Smaller kids should always ride with a parent, another adult or a responsible older child. In addition, make sure toddlers and preschoolers are bundled in layers to keep warm and to cushion any falls and spills. Encourage kids to head back up on their own. Walking back up the hill will help your child develop balance and physical coordination and build strength in his/her limbs.
Head to the playground
Your local park can be a great winter destination. snow and ice can transform the park into totally different place. And you’ll probably have the place entirely to yourselves. Exploring a playground or just taking a walk in the park in the winter can help toddlers and preschoolers build confidence on multiple terrains, in turn, helping improving agility, balance and coordination. Be aware that some surfaces may be more slippery this time of year.
Build a snowman
Kids of all ages love building a snowman. Building big snowmen can take time and coordination but making them in miniature is easy and satisfying. Simply stack a few snowballs to make the body and head. Then let your child’s imagination go wild to design and build the features of the body and head. After stacking a few big snowballs to make the body, kids can use their imagination to fill in the features — using items such as fruits, vegetables, sticks, berries, clothes and just about any other material to bring their snowman to life. And toddlers and preschoolers aren’t worried if their snowman doesn’t look perfect or aren’t built to human scale.
Build a snow castle or snow fort
Once your child has progressed past building snowmen they can move on to constructing a snow castle or snow fort. Bring some cups and food storage containers out with you or use a snow brick maker. (Or kids can use a shovel or their hands.) Pack the containers with snow, then use the snow bricks to make walls and towers. Smaller kids can break away pieces of snow, carry and stack the “blocks” into place. Be sure to create an opening for the entryway.
Make snow angels
Kids making snow angels is a rite of passage. All you need is some fresh snow. Just lay down in the snow and do some jumping jacks. Make this even more fun by dressing up the angels by using food coloring to draw on a face, clothes and accessories on your angel. It’s simple, easy and fun for everyone.
Make a snow maze
When you roll the balls you needed to make your snowman, you’ve already created the beginnings of a maze for your toddlers and preschoolers. If you’ve elected to not make a snowman, simply use your feet to plow through the snow and create a maze. Plan for a few dead ends – it will make the maze more challenging and interesting for your toddlers and preschoolers.
Blow some bubbles in the cold
Blowing bubbles isn’t just a summer activity. In fact, it can be a totally different experience for your toddler and preschooler when the temps are colder. Get some bubble solution and take it outside into the cold weather. Have your toddler or preschooler blow some bubbles. Then watch their reaction as the bubbles crystallize before their eyes. This activity only works on days that the temperature dips below freezing. It also works best if the bubble solution is cold. This is a great activity to teach your toddlers and preschoolers about snow and melting temperatures.
Stack snowballs and knock them down
It sounds really simple and it is. But what toddler or preschooler can resist knocking things over? Few things keep kids that age happier than stacking things up and knocking them down over and over again. Snow just makes it even more fun. And there’s no chance of injury as with the same activity indoors with blocks.
Load, carry and deposit snowballs
Toddlers and preschoolers love to carry things from one place to another. So why not make a game of it with snowballs? Make a number of snowballs and have your child carry them over and deposit them into a bucket. If no bucket is handy just create a “snow bowl” by building up a mound of snow then hollow out the top to create a bowl to deposit the snowball into.
Skiing and snowboarding
Skiing and snowboarding are family favorites during the winter months. But it may not be for all toddlers and preschoolers. Some children start skiing as young as age 2 or 3. However for most kids, the best age to start is is about 5. As for snowboarding, few children have developed the needed coordination before age 5 or 6. Skiing and/or boarding lessons and safety gear (including a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and hip pads) are a must for beginners to skiing or boarding.
Spray paint the snow
Fill spray bottles with water and food coloring and paint the snow with colored water. Younger kids especially love using spray bottles and experimenting with color to create shapes, letters, words, pictures and numbers in the snow.
Make ice art
Color water with food coloring then freeze into different shapes using ice cube trays, muffin tins, gelatin molds and old yogurt containers. You can use in your freezer or leave the containers outdoors if temps are low enough. Then use the colorful ice to create ice sculptures create your own ice sculptures. In sub-freezing temperatures, you can Individual pieces will stick and quickly freeze together by dribbling water on them. Next, hunt for branches and/or stones to decorate your sculpture. Adding some water balloons filled with colored water can add to the show and fun.
After all that snow play your toddlers and preschoolers they’ll be ready and willing to come inside for a cup of hot cocoa and a good book!