Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Snow Day Fun!

I spent most of this past weekend playing outside in the snow.  I'm not sure who enjoys the snowy weather more:  me or my 6 1/2 year old daughter.  As soon as it starts snowing, she is asking to go out and play.  Whether it be helping out with shoveling the snow, building a snowman or going sledding, this kid of mine is happiest when it snows.

Playing with and in the snow offers lots of opportunities to work on occupational therapy goals.  For example, shoveling snow is a great activity to work on providing sensory input and work on overall body strengthening.  Building a snowman requires focus, attention and organizational skills, can work on improving strength and motor planning skills.  Even having a friendly snowball fight can be a therapeutic activity.  If you don't want to encourage throwing snowballs at other people, you can play a game where you set up targets (trees, garage doors, etc.) for the kids to throw snowballs at.

There are lots of people who like the way snow looks but don't want to have anything else to do with it.  There are also lots of people who love snow but live in places where it never snows.  Below, I have shared some things you can do inside when it snows and you'd rather stay warm and cozy inside or for those of you who live in warmer places and want to bring winter to you!

Homemade Snow: while many of us are lucky enough to get to play with actual snow, there are a lot of people who live in parts of this country/world who don't ever get to experience snow.  The good thing is that no matter where you live and what the weather is like, there are ways you can make your own snow.  In this very easy recipe, you can mix baking soda and white conditioner and make your own snow that you get to play with inside without having to get all bulked up or having to deal with the cold weather.
Mix 2 1/2 cups of baking soda with 1/2 cup of white conditioner....stir together in bowl until it reaches the consistency you like.
*this is super simple and affordable activity that works on improving bilateral coordination (hold bowl with one hand while using a spatula to stir the ingredients).
*if you have a kid who needs to work on improving tactile defensiveness, mixing these two ingredients with your hands can work on improving grasp strength and manipulation skills as well as help to expose kids with tactile defensive tendencies to an opportunity to get their hands dirty and in the mix of things.

Make Snowflakes: who doesn't remember spending hours as a child making paper snowflakes?
This is a great activity for kids of all ages because you can make it as simple or as complicated as they can handle.  My favorite thing is that all you need are scissors and paper to make something really cool and beautiful.  You can add paint, glitter or stickers if you want to add details.  One thing that I do is save the extra stickers from the Orb Factory Sticky Mosaic sets I have done with the kids to decorate the snowflakes.  They love adding the sparkly colors and I love that they can work on fine motor and manipulation skills at the same time.  This activity allows kids to work on improving fine motor skills in a fun and creative way.  For some of my younger kids, I will draw shapes for them to cut out and then have them color or paint their snowflake in to work on graphomotor skills.  With the older ones, I encourage them to design their snowflake by themselves.  If you need some inspiration, Kinderart has a bunch of templates for you to choose from.  Making paper snowflakes is also great for working on improving visual motor and perceptual skills, hand-eye coordination, bilateral coordination skills and focus, attentional and organizational skills.

Indoor Snowball Fight: my daughter loves a good snowball fight.  It doesn't matter if she is on the giving or receiving end of the fight, she just thinks it is one of the best parts of winter to her.  If you are fortunate enough to have enough space where you live and don't necessarily have the weather to have a snowball fight, then you should definitely pick up these indoor snowballs by Snowtime Anytime.  These soft snowballs are perfect to keep your kids entertained for hours on end.  The best part is that they are getting exercise and working on developmental skills without realizing it!  Kids can work on upper extremity strength, hand-eye coordination, visual motor and perceptual skills and focus, attention, motor planning and organizational skills while playing!
There are so many different ways your kids can play with these snowballs.  They can have a safe snowball fight against each other.  You can set up targets for them to throw at with each target being worth points and the person with the most points at the end is the winner.  Another idea is that you can have a snowball throwing contest; each take a certain number of snowballs and throw as far as you can....the person who throws theirs the furthest is the winner.

Snowglobes: I've always loved looking at snow globes.  I am one of those people who can shake and stare at a snow globe for hours on end.  Once I realized how simple it was to make them, I have been doing it with the kids I work with.  This project can be customized based on your child's interests, favorite color, etc.. This project requires just a handful of inexpensive materials and very few steps.  You will need:
*Mason Jar (whatever size you want)
*Water
*Pure Glycerin
*Glitter
*Waterproof Glue or Epoxy
*Small, waterproof toys or figurines to put inside your globe
Here is how you make your snow globe:
1. Remove the lid of the mason jar and decide where you would like to put your figurines.  You will have to make sure that you don't put them too close to the edge or you won't be able to close the jar.
2.  Glue the figurines in place and let them dry.   Start by removing your mason jar lid and decide where you'd like to place your figurines. Make sure you are able to close your jar once they are in place.
3.  While things are drying, pour about a tablespoon of glitter into the jar (you can add more or less depending on how snowy you want it).
4.  Pour water into the jar leaving some room at the top (the water should not reach all the way to the top).  Add 3-5 drops of glycerin to the water (this makes the glitter fall more slowly when you shake it).
5.  Once the glue has dried on the lid, apply glue around the rim and to the threads around the jar (this forms a tight seal and prevents leaking).
Floof Mr. and Mrs. Snowman Kit: I discovered Floof a few months ago and immediately fell in love with it.  Floof is a relatively new sensory material.  It is a light, fluffy and moldable white material that sticks to itself making it easy for kids to play with.  Kids can make whatever structure they want to but I especially love their snowman making kit which includes a molds to make different sized snowballs and all the pieces to dress your snowmen.  This is great for working on improving bilateral coordination, motor planning and organizational skills and can help work on improving body awareness.  The best part of this snowman making experience is that nobody complains about being cold!  For parents who are concerned about making a big mess....even if your kids get sloppy while playing with Floof, it is incredibly easy to clean up and won't ruin clothing.

So here are just a few things that you can do to keep your kids entertained if the weather is too frightful to be outside or if you want to bring winter to you.  Do you and your family have any special snowy day activities or traditions?  How about you readers who don't get snow....what kinds of things do you do with your kids to bring winter weather to your family?  I love hearing about different family traditions and activities and I know my readers do to!  I look forward to hearing from you....I'm always a click away!






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