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Winter Activities that Boost Development

Girl Making Snowman With Parents Winter Activities
Temperatures around the country are dropping and Winter is here!
With each season comes a new set of experiences and learning opportunities for your child. Winter can bring children new sights, ways to play outside, and chances for sensory exploration.
Whether you choose to spend the day enjoying the crisp, cool air outside or staying warm inside, participating in winter themed activities is a fun way to boost your child’s language, motor, and sensory development!

Build a Snowman

Let’s start with a classic winter activity – building a snowman!

Language: For younger children, talk about body parts as you add each one. Show the same body part on yourself and on your child as you repeat the word. Talk about what actions are happening as you build, like rolling and lifting.

Thinking skills: Improve your child’s ability to sequence, plan, and execute tasks (which use executive function skills) by asking him or her to talk about what materials and steps are needed to build their snowman before they begin.

Sensory: Encourage your child to explore the snow, sticks, and other materials you use. Talk about how it feels, looks and smells to engage all of their senses!

Motor: Using large muscles to gather, pack, and roll large snowballs is a great way to boost your child’s gross motor development.

Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt

Animal life, weather, and nature change with each season. Create a winter scavenger hunt with items your child can find outside, like pinecones, acorns, brown leaves, berries, and birds. Write a list yourself or download one online, and have your child check off each one as they find it!

Language: Younger children can practice building sentences to talk about what they found by putting the words on the list into a phrase as they check it off, like saying, “I see a bird”! This is a great way for older, school-age children to answer wh- questions. Ask your child where the item or animal is and why they might appear in the Winter.

Thinking skills: Challenge your child’s cognitive skills by giving him or her a list of 3 items to find. See if your child can remember all 3!

Sensory: Keep some of the items you find to add to a sensory bin later and explore.

Motor: Going on a walk and hiking up and down hills is a fun way to keep your child’s body moving during the colder months!

Build a Bird Nest

Want a STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) project for your kids that’s also fun and gets them outside? Ask them to build a bird nest with your help!

Bird nests are easier to spot in the winter, and your child might even catch a glimpse of a few Sparrows or Robins as they create a nest.

Language: Focus on teaching your child new vocabulary words related to nature and Winter. Talk about the names of the materials you are gathering (for example, twigs and moss) and describe them with adjectives like thin and soft.

Thinking skills: Put your child’s thinking skills to the test by asking him or her to plan what materials will be needed. Help your child problem-solve through challenges as you build your nest together!

Sensory: Searching, digging, pulling, and gathering the materials outdoors will help give kids the sensory input that their bodies need, in a fun way!

Motor: Reaching up high to gather sticks and bending down low to pick up acorns will work your child’s larger muscle groups and can help with balance and coordination.

Make Snow Ice Cream

That’s right – snow ice cream!

Baking activities are great for kids because not only are they fun, but they are rewarded with a sweet treat at the end! What’s even better is how they challenge kids to develop a variety of developmental skills.

All you need for this one is 4 ingredients: sugar, milk, salt, and vanilla extract (and the snow, of course!). Then follow a simple recipe together.

Language: Teach spatial concepts to younger children as you make snow ice cream, focusing on words such as in and out. Boost your child’s listening comprehension skills by reading him or her a few steps of the directions to follow or a couple ingredients to get out as you prepare!

Thinking skills: Get those executive function skills going again by letting your child try taking the lead on how to execute the steps to make your sweet treat. For example, first finding the recipe, then taking out the ingredients, then following the steps!

Sensory: What could be a more delicious way to engage your child’s senses by asking them to feel, smell, and of course – taste the ingredients and final product?

Motor: Want to help strengthen your child’s upper body muscles? Put them in charge of the pouring and mixing!

Go Ice Skating, Skiing, or Sledding

Your kids will love spending the day making memories and enjoying activities on the ice and snow. Ice-skating, skiing, or sledding will get them out of the house and enjoying the season in no time!

Language: Activities like these offer an opportunity for kids to add more action words to their vocabulary, such as sledding, slipping, and sliding.

Thinking skills: First time ice skating? Your child might experience a few falls. Develop problem solving skills by asking him or her what method they think might help them learn to stand on that slippery ice. Maybe holding onto the wall? Or watching how others skate first?

Sensory: Getting used to the feeling of wearing new and different clothing during these activities can help with your child’s sensory processing abilities.

Motor: Sledding will be sure to exercise your child’s core muscles. And those skis and ice skates can help put their leg muscles to work!

Learning throughout Winter

On top of these activities, there are so many winter activities that can boost your child’s overall development, like singing winter songs and creating crafts like paper chains and winter sensory bins!

If you have concerns with areas of your child’s development, such as speech, language, sensory, or motor, consider seeking an evaluation with a certified professional in that specific area.

TherapyWorks offers Speech Therapy, Occupational and Physical Therapy both in person (in Illinois, Michigan, and Ohio) and through teletherapy (nationwide). If you would like to learn more, or discuss your child’s specific needs, please don’t hesitate to reach out to TherapyWorks!

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