Winters in New England… need I say more? I am sure that other parts of the country have worse winters. Ours here are probably not that bad, unless you have something to do and the roads are messy or you have a child stuck indoors.
I can’t do much about the roads. I can, however, give you some ideas to help with long days when the world seems paralyzed by snowfall. First, look at these days as a gift. How many days do you actually get a whole day home with your family? I almost never do. Snow days are together days. Enjoy them. Your children will be big before you know it. Make these days ones to remember. Try to remember, laundry and all of the other chores will be there tomorrow, so don’t make these a priority. Instead, think of fun ways to enjoy your kids.
Keep the following 3 things in mind to make it a little easier: 1. Children have short attention spans, activities usually will not last more than 30 minutes. 1. Snacks are an activity and when the children prepare their own snack, it is even more fun. 3. They will want to be with you if possible, so if you have to work/paybills etc. Try to do it in the same room so they feel safe and close.
Now for the magic… kids can find fun everywhere!
Gluing dried pasta to paper is fun. If you have paint, they can paint when dry.
Older children can string Pasta to make necklaces (use shoelaces or dip about 1″ of a long piece of yarn in glue and dry to make it easy to push through and pull out of the pasta.
Boil the pasta and let kids play with it with their hands. It is mushy and feels “cool”. Use salad tongs, spoons and measuring cups to play.
Put a few different shapes of pasta in a bowl and have the children sort and pair them. A great fine motor activity would be to have them use a tweezer to pick up each piece.
If you are so inclined, go play in the snow. Build, Toss and Dig in the snow. For more fun, put a little food coloring in a spray bottle or squeeze bottle and “color the snow”, find old makers and draw in the snow. If your child is older try mirrors to melt the snow.
If it is too cold out, find a big plastic tub and bring the snow inside. I used to bring it into the bathroom (wet messes are easier to clean up there). Use markers, spoons, cups, bowls – whatever you can think of to play with the snow (I suggest mittens too!)
There are so many card games you can teach eve your youngest child. Even if it is just looking for similar cards to make pairs. Memory with 4 cards for the youngest child is still fun. 2 pairs. Let them peak and let them win. Then add a 3rd pair.
Take out all of the Face cards, so you only have numbers. take about 20 cards and show each to your child. Help him/her count the hearts/diamonds/clubs or spades. Tell them what number it is and go to the next. If he/she knows the card, before you count, etc. let him/her keep that card. The person who has the most cards at the end wins. Be kind – winning is so encouraging and such a positive learning experience. (You can do this with letters too – but you would have to make the cards)
AND YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD NOTHING IN THE HOUSE:
Do you have an old box lying around in your garage? My children and I would “work” for hours on end creating spaceships. I would help them cut holes, glue toilet paper rolls in place to use as controls. We would paint and glue and cut and tape and…. whatever we could find became a part of our creation. Does your child like trains? Busses? Cars? or Spaceships? You can even pet them nap in there when it is time – a pillow and a blanket are a simple addition to your creation. You can make an airplane and explain that people sometimes sleep in airplanes when they travel.
Coloring is fun, and children love it. They do, however, do it often. The best way to inspire children is to make a book with them or a menu for lunch, or a card. A picture is more fun when it represents something adults use.
I never liked the store bought Playdoh when my girls were small, I was always afraid it would end up in the carpet – so we made our own (Flour, Water, Salt and Kool-Aid) this comes out with warm water. First we would make it (exact recipes available on line – Pintrest will have a million ideas for you.) Then we would play restaurant or car wash.
You can also make goop. Corn Starch an water – VERY easy and a little more messy that every other activity. I suggest using a plastic shoe bin or something only slightly bigger. If you have never made this before – you will find yourself mesmerized. Corn starch and water, while in the tub, will be shiny and look wet, but feel dry. You can scoop in into your hand when you can make a ball quickly until it melts from your body heat. And, while it gets everywhere – it cleans up easily with warm water.
Don’t beat yourself up if you need a break, or your kids need a break. TV can be very relaxing. I would just warn you of 2 things. 1. Monitor what they are watching and 2. Limit the amount of time they watch.
You could probably all use a nap. Take one when your kids lay down. You will be amazed at how much more fun the rest of your day will be!
This has been (yes, I am knocking on wood) a surprisingly mild winter and I am grateful. However, it is bound to come. So, now you are prepared!
If you have questions, or ideas, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org