With cold temperatures and the task of bundling up your child in layers upon layers of clothing, many parents and caregivers may opt for indoor winter activities for their children, particularly if they have any children with special needs.
The following are some fun winter-themed activities that you can do in the comfort of your own home, yet still maintain the spirit of the season. These activities can be therapeutic as well, as they promote fine and gross motor development, enhance creative thinking, encourage play skills, provide sensory input, and give opportunities for speech and language development.
- Bring the snow indoors. Place snow in a large bin and allow your child to play with it over top of a tablecloth. Provide your child with cookie cutters, spoons, paint and paintbrushes, shovels, toy dump trucks, or other items to make a snowman and allow them to be creative!
- Play dress up. Who says practicing dressing skills can’t be fun? Have your child practice putting on and removing winter clothing (hats, gloves, socks, shoes, pants, shirts, jackets) – don’t forget about letting your child practice the zippers, buttons, snaps and shoe laces!
- Cook or bake a favorite recipe. Allow your child to choose the recipe and create a shopping list. If the recipe allows, make the food into the shape of a snowman, snowflake, mittens, etc.
- Make hot chocolate. Have your child pick out the toppings – whipped cream, sprinkles, chocolate or peppermint shavings, etc.
- Build a fort with blankets and pillows. Watch a movie in the fort or play a game inside of it. You can even create an obstacle course leading up to the fort and have your child pretend to make their way through a snow-covered forest.
- Create a winter-themed craft. There are many things that can be made from glue, cotton balls, glitter, q-tips, construction paper, beads, pipe cleaners, and writing utensils. You can even make winter decorations for your home as a change of scenery.
- Window Painting. When the frost develops on your windows, allow your child to use his or her finger to draw pictures on the frost.
- Make snow-less snowmen. Pour two boxes of cornstarch into a container and add a can of shaving cream. Have your child mix it together using his or her hands until it turns into a crumbly texture. Make it into a snowman by adding buttons for eyes and mouth, a baby carrot for a nose, doll clothing for a hat and scarf, and small branches for arms.
- Make toys from recycled items. Have an empty tissue box? Make it into a penguin, leaving the opening for the penguin’s mouth. Provide your child with cotton balls and tongs and have him or her pretend to feed the penguin. Have an empty coffee creamer bottle or soda bottle? Tear off the label and draw snowman features on the container. Again, provide your child with cotton balls and tongs and have him or her place them into the container to “build” a snowman.
Written By: Brittany Grady, MS, OTR/L, CHES, Pediatric Occupational Therapist, Holy Redeemer Pediatric Rehabilitation