Winter weather means lots of time inside. Winter weather also often means kids are looking for something else to do . . . for their sanity and yours. I was thinking about some things we do at preschool that could be carried over to home.
This works great directly on a table surface but can also be done on a cookie sheet or large tray. Add blocks to build using the cream as the mortar. Try drawing things and having your child copy or have them draw something and you try to figure out what it is. Look around the room and try to make patterns you find; zig zag, polka-dots, stripes, plaid?
Hopefully this is a staple in your play every day. I suggest you change the typical block play up a little. Have contests to see how high you can stack the blocks without them toppling over. Work on building something together – each taking turns to add to the structure. Can you make a row of tall blocks standing up and knock them over like a domino tumble? Sometimes just finding a new way to use an old toy can spur some different creative play. Try adding some “loose parts” to your block play. You can read previous post about that
No, you most likely don’t have a sensory table. But you do probably have some plastic tubs, perhaps even those large low tubs – like the ones that go under the bed. Fillers for this could include pom pom balls, beans, coffee beans, sand, etc. Small tubs, plastic animals, small vehicles, kitchen utensils all work well with this play. Play eye spy with the items in the tub. Water and ice (and snow if it’s available) also make great sensory play. You can add small bits of food coloring and salt to the play to see how that changes things. I wrote a post a couple of winters ago about how my grand-kids and I played with the snow inside. You can find that
This will most likely appeal to younger children the most but as you can see from the post link above, older kids will love finding new ways to explore with the materials you have.
another link to a previous article about sensory play.
Winter is a great time for balloon play inside the home. The dry air makes it perfect for investigating static electricity. Give the balloon a quick rub on you your shirt and then watch it attract your hair or even stick to your shirt. Use a timer to see how long the balloon stays attached. Play some games with the balloons. Count how many times you can tap the balloon into the air. Try walking with the balloon between your legs. Hold the neck end of the balloon between the pointer finger and thumb of one hand. Use the other hand to pull the tied part back and then release to watch the balloon rocket forward. Don’t forget to blow some up and watch them fly randomly around the room as the air rushes out. (Of course, close supervision is always crucial any time children play with balloons.)
Roads and Towns:
Long days indoors are a perfect opportunity to do a long-term project. A favorite around here (and I remember this with my kids) is building a “town.” In the photo you see a town rug, street signs, etc. You don’t need these to have the same kind of fun. Perhaps without them is even more fun and fulfilling as children make many of the elements. Use masking tape to mark off roads, small boxes can become the buildings of the town. I remember once helping my grand-kids make a road from Grammy’s to their home outside Wichita. Along the road we added landmarks they see during the drive. We even included the truck junk yard. This was fun to figure out how to do but basically we ended up piling a bunch of vehicles in an area and writing the words “Junk Yard” on a paper sign. Your children may want to include places that are easily recognizable such as McDonalds. This is using environmental print in a practical play experience. If you can, leave this for a day or two. The play will most likely change and evolve each time they come back to it.
Again, you most likely don’t have a light table in your home. You do, however, have windows. Many homes have sliding glass doors which are perfect. You can have your children look around for items in the house that are translucent. Set a small table in front of the window for them to play. The light (and change of typical play scenery) will bring new interest. You can also tape large sheets of paper on the window. Using washable markers to draw on the paper will again have fabulous effect with the light shining through. If you happen to have any clear contact paper this can be taped to the window with the sticky side facing you. Q-tips and other small items can be added to create patterns, etc.
A new batch of playdough can provide hours of fun. You can read about why it’s important, how to extend the play and even a great recipe