Is the weather in your area part of Christmas outdoor fun? No matter where you live, dress kids for the weather and take them outside for fun and play.
This weekend, it’s snowing here. With the temperature right around freezing, it’s perfect weather for making snowmen. That’s certainly what the kids did as soon as there was enough of the white stuff on the ground. Phase Two, after a pit stop which meant getting everything off and putting it back on with new dry mittens, was going back outside and sliding down a bit of a hill. There’s nothing like sledding to practice the opposites of up and down, dry and wet, and cold and warm.
What is it about snow that encourages such a close encounter with nature? Definitely, snow appeals to all the senses, sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste. Practically every single action from just walking around, to making snow angels, to playing Fox and Geese leaves a mark on the snow. Zooming fast is exciting and there’s an element of risk.
Winter play can happen even without snow. Pieces of cardboard boxes are fun for sliding down hills. Kicking a ball is fun any time of year. Tag games like Freeze Tag or Statues are sort of like the weather. Check the ground for sticks and pinecones and other treasures.
Do your memories of Christmas fun include playing outside? Did the weather influence your play? For past generations, when we remember what we did during the holiday season, a significant part is what we did outside. Will that be the same for our kids? Think about how much easier it is nowadays to be indoors. We have to make a special effort to make sure kids get time to play outside. One of the greatest gifts we can give our kids is a connection to nature. Will having some Christmas outdoor fun be part of your child’s day?
Did you ever fold and cut paper into snowflakes? Making paper snowflakes does seem magical and the activity has lots of kindergarten readiness learning and fun. Paper has been around for more than 2,000 years; I wonder how soon people began cutting holes in paper to make snowflakes. And how many generations have been doing so?
One of the easiest ways to make snowflakes is with coffee filters. Already in the right size and shape, flatten one, fold it half and in half again. Now, kids can cut little bits out of the sides and edges. When it’s opened, those little spaces look like lace. Another way to make snowflakes, is with paper, but it needs to be a square. A quick way to do this is to fold one edge along the other to make a triangle. Cut the extra strip of paper off. The coffee filters at our house were not white, so we used both ways. Big Sister could do this by herself and Little Sister just liked to throw the bits up in the air to make snow.
This activity (winter or not) helps kids practice following directions and doing steps in order. Kids can’t cut the holes in the paper or filter until it’s folded. Some children will make snowflakes over and over. They are challenging themselves to remember the directions and to figure it out by themselves. Some may only be interested in creating one or two. Once cut, your child may want to add colors or stickers. This is all part of individual creativity.
Here’s a video for those who like instructions in pictures rather than words. Folding only twice is not as thick as folding 3 times, so it’s much easier to cut, especially for little hands. Whether it’s snowing or not outside, it can be inside. Each snowflake will be unique, just like kids. Has your child tried the magic of turning paper into snowflakes?
Not everywhere has winter weather for snow fun, but everywhere will be having weather. Playing outside supports the healthy development of both bodies and brains, and kindergarten readiness. There are countless funny stories about getting kids dressed to go outside and play in the winter time only to have them need to go to the bathroom, or discover that the missing mitten is deep inside the leg of a snowsuit, etc. but it’s worth the effort.
During the preschool years, children’s bodies are growing and developing, inside and outside. Vigorous physical activity promotes the development of strong muscles and skeletons. Kids are learning how their muscles and body parts all connect and coordinate as they run, jump, and climb. Sometimes challenging themselves, kids are learning to balance safety and risk.
There is a great deal of sensory stimulation. The ground not only looks different, it might sound different too. Hands (and tongues) need to be careful that they don’t stick to cold metal when touching things outside.
Besides the benefits physically and mentally, outside play also has social and emotional ones. When playing outside, kids are more likely to make up their own games, even when they are on their own. With others, there’s lots of communicating and interacting. Imaginations sometimes get as much exercise as bodies. Extra energy and tension can be released outside and somehow noise doesn’t sound nearly as loud as it does inside.
At this time of year, some kids are able to play in the snow. For areas without snow, neighborhood playgrounds and parks might be an option. If available and appropriate, hockey sticks can be used with pucks or are just as much fun with balls. Can you fit in some winter outside play time for your child, for fun and learning?
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