Some weekends you just need an organized activity or two to burn off some energy and prevent the house from getting turned upside down.
Below are 10 of our favourite winter-themed activities with very little to no prep work required. We’ve included 5 outdoor activities and 5 indoor activities so if you’re looking for activities you can do inside, just scroll past the first section.
I hope this provides some inspiration for your weekend!
1. Shovelling Snow
Benefits:Teaches care of the outdoor environment, develops gross motor skills, uses “maximum effort”, and it's a great activity for burning excess energy.
Buy a child-sized shovel.
Choose a spot where the snow can be shovelled.
Demonstrate how to shovel and carry the snow to the selected spot.
Once you make a pile of snow, have fun with it! Jump in it, build a fort, make a snow mountain, etc.
2. Painting Snow with Spray or Squirt Bottles
Benefits: Spray or squirt bottles strengthen fine motor skills. If you decide to use multiple colours, the child will have an opportunity to explore colour mixing, develop creative expression, and it’s just a lot of fun.
Fill a child-sized spray bottle or squirt bottle with water and add a few drops of food colouring.
Demonstrate how to spray the snow.
Sit back and observe.
If your child is really interested in this activity, you may want to bring some extra coloured water outside (in a water bottle?) to fill up the spray bottle once it’s empty. This will avoid the need to go inside a million times to fill it up.
3. Build a Snowperson
Benefits: Building a snowperson develops gross motor skills, uses "maximum effort", teaches cooperation (parent and child working together), develops language skills and teaches different parts of the body.
Work with your child to roll the snow into balls (big or small, follow their lead, no need to make a huge one).
Look for items in nature you can use for the eyes, nose, mouth and arms (could do this on a walk) or use items from inside the home.
Talk about the different parts of the snowperson as you build it.
You can also use the snow paint (water + food colouring in a spray/squirt bottle) from the activity above to colour your snowperson.
Benefits: Develops gross motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Create a designated area to throw the snowballs. Ensure the area is away from people and the child has a lot of room. There will be some trial and error as they learn how to throw.
Demonstrate how to make snowballs or make them for the child and put them in pile. This is an activity in itself so take your time if the child is showing a lot of interest.
Put a bucket (or large bowl) a few feet away from the pile of snowballs. If you don’t have a suitable container, you could also draw a target in the snow with your finger or draw one on an outside wall with chalk for child to throw at. Adjust the distance between the snowballs and the target as needed. You want to set the child up for success, even if they’re standing close enough to drop the snowballs into the bucket. As they practice and build confidence, you can encourage them to take a step back. .
Demonstrate how to throw the snowball. It’s easier to learn to aim when throwing underhand so I would recommend demonstrating underhand first. For an older toddler/preschooler that is comfortable with throwing, you can try overhand throwing.
5. Bury Items in the Snow and Find Them
Benefits: Develops fine motor, gross motor, language and problem-solving skills.
Find a few items that can get wet, like sand or bath toys. You can do this on your own or ask the child to pick out some toys they’d like to bury.
Bring the toys outside and take turns burying them for each other to find. If you have a small trowel or sand shovel, you can use that to dig through the snow.
Name the different toys as you find them - “you found the ____!”
For an infant, loosely bury one toy close to the surface of the snow while they watch. This activity will also help them to develop object permanence.
A child who is familiar with “hide and seek” may feel comfortable covering their eyes while you bury the toys for some added fun and mystery.
You can also pay "Hot and Cold", giving each other hints as they move closer and farther to the items. This will develop the ability to listen and follow instructions.
6. Snow Sensory Bin
Benefits: Sensory bins provide a great opportunity for sensorial exploration. A snow sensory bin encourages scientific exploration - talk about what happens when the snow begins to melt indoors.
This is also a great activity for children who are reluctant to play outside in the snow (introducing it inside first, where it’s warm and comfortable, may entice them to want to play outside). This is also a great activity for getting children to come inside (when you want to go inside but they don’t). If they don’t want to come inside, tell them they can bring the snow inside, give them a small shovel and they can scoop up the snow into the bin themselves.
Scoop up some clean snow from outside and put in a container, i.e. sensory bin, large Tupperware container, baking tray, or baking sheet.
Add small tools, containers, objects (theArctic Toob would be great for this) to enrich child’s exploration.
You could also paint the snow in the sensory bin using small bowls of coloured water andeyedroppers.
7. Exploration Basket: Winter Gear
Benefits: Independence. It also gives the child some extra practice (getting out the door can often be hectic, this activity allows child to go at their own pace while they figure out how to put the winter items on).
Place winter gear in a basket in child’s play room. You can include a hat, pair of mittens, neck warmer (not a scarf, can get caught on things and pose a strangulation hazard) and socks.
Demonstrate how to put on the various articles (one at a time, move slowly, follow child’s lead).
Observe. If child is exploring independently, sit back and follow their lead. If you observe signs of frustration, count to 10 and see if child can figure it out on their own, if frustration persists, “Can I help you with that?”
Infant: You can allow an infant to explore the various items without encouraging them to put them on. The parent can put them on the child and infant may show interest in pulling them off (taking things off is easier than putting things on).
8. Transferring Cotton “Snowballs”
Benefits: Strengthens fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination while developing focus.
Transfer activities are activities where the child transfers objects from one container to another. This can be done with their hands, a spoon, tongs, chopsticks, etc. or 2 matching jugs for the child to pour back and forth.
Place the cotton balls into a bowl/jug.
Place a second bowl/jug next to the bowl/jug of cotton balls.
Demonstrate how to transfer the cotton balls from one container to another.
Encourage your child to repeat.
Once all the cotton balls have been transferred, demonstrate how to return them to the bowl. Repeat.
For an added challenge, transfer cotton balls into an empty ice cube tray or muffin pan. If you have a large quantity of cotton balls or white pom poms you could also make a "snowball" sensory bin.
9. Craft - Cotton Ball Art: Snowflake or Snowperson
Benefits: Develops fine motor skills and coordination, hand-eye coordination and creativity.
Draw a snowflake or snowperson on a piece of construction paper.
Demonstrate how to add a dab of glue to the cotton ball and apply it to the paper, placing it within the lines of your outline. Young children are more focused on the process than the product so if they aren’t gluing the cotton balls inside the lines, that’s okay. Follow their lead.
If the child is interested in extending their craft, add some more art materials for them to use creatively.
10. Craft - Coffee Filter Snowflakes
*For children with previous experience using scissors
Benefits: Strengthens scissor skills while encouraging creativity.
Fold the coffee filter in half (or more). You could also use printer paper but be mindful of how thick it gets when folded.
Demonstrate how to cut out little bits from the edge of the filter. You could also draw a couple of lines to use as guides for the scissors.
Open up your snowflakes.
Tape them to the window or in their play area for decoration.
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