One part of winter, for many, is keeping warm! A fun spin on keeping warm in the winter is learning about how animals stay warm. We aren’t talking about a 3rd grade hibernation lesson of course! This is a very simple look at what animals do in the winter to keep warm. Start by taking your half paper plate and cutting the center out so that you are left with an arch of about 2 inches thick. You are making a cave for an animal to stay warm in. Now, cut the construction paper into a half circle to fit inside of the arch, this is the dark inside of the cave. Let your child fill in the paper plate arch with cotton balls (snow). Then, either you or your child can glue in the black part of the cave. Finally, glue in the goog-ly craft eyes to see the animal peeking out of the cave.
Stuff to Have
Paper plate, cut in half
Black construction paper
Cotton balls, 25-30
Fine motor, arts & crafts
Shaving cream apparently has about a million uses, including several fine motor and sensory activities for young children. It really is a great medium that kids will have a ton of fun with. Mix a box (or a half box depending on how much you want to make) of cornstarch with a can of shaving cream in a large plastic container. Mix together to get a fluffy, snowy, moldable consistency. Let children dig in and play as they like, ask a lot of questions, and occasionally give new ideas for play (ie add toys, cars, containers, scoops, spoons, cookie cutters, etc).
Stuff to Have
1 box cornstarch
1 can of shaving cream
Large plastic container
Fine motor, sensory, early science
Fine Motor/Problem Solving
This is a fun variation on the ping pong ball drop from last summer, but there are lot’s of ways to change it up. Start by gluing 2 magnets onto the back of an empty toilet paper roll or a paper towel roll, this is your chute. Stick this to the fridge. Now your child can drop snowballs through the chute. Stay tuned for the upcoming blog about this and I will give more ideas to add to this activity!
Stuff to Have
Cotton balls or white craft balls
Empty paper towel or toilet paper rolls
tongs, spoons, tweezers, etc, optional
Fine motor, perceptual motor, problem solving
Science & Math
Melt & Freeze
As simple as it may seem, the change from snow to water is a scientific transformation… but with these ages we are just going to play with it, watch it change, and have fun! If you have some snow let your child, or help them, collect a bowl full of snow. You could take this chance to add some color to it, or just leave it sit in a visible location to periodically watch the change. Be sure to ask questions and take some time to feel the snow as it changes. Set it aside and watch it over time, or throw in bowls, cups, spoons, etc. and turn it into a sensory experience.
Stuff to Have
Containers to collect snow
Food coloring diluted in water in a spray or squirt bottle, optional
Bowls, cups, spoons, empty containers, etc.
Early science, sensory
Cooking & Baking
Warm Chocolate Pudding
There is something that sounds very comforting about a warm batch of chocolate pudding in the middle of winter. You could go for the store bought box and have just as much fun, or you could try this easy pudding recipe. I don’t have a tried and true pudding recipe, so I went to the chocolate experts at Hershey’s for their pudding recipe as a starting point. I am going to cut the sugar & salt since it’s for my kids and I want a lower sugar content. And to make it thicker while it’s warm I’m cutting a bit of milk out (keep in mind this will continue to thicken as it cools). I’ll post a link to the original website too if you want that!
Here are the directions: Combine the sugar, cocoa, cornstarch, and salt into a large microwave safe bowl. Whisk in milk until it is smooth and microwave uncovered for 3 minutes. Stir. Microwave again for 4-6 minutes, or until thickened, stirring after each minute. Stir in vanilla and butter. Serve out of the large bowl, or pour into individual dishes. You can eat it warm to warm up on a chilly day, or chill in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. For an added treat top your pudding with delicious whipped cream!
Oh, and a note on keeping away the skin on the top while chilling… place plastic wrap directly on the surface of the pudding.
It is your job to engage your child, ask questions, and be descriptive. Let them do as much dumping and stirring as they can or are interested in doing. Pudding will be a delicious treat, but I like it because it is nice and simple, fun to watch it as it changes, and easy to do in the microwave, no hot burners to avoid in this cooking activity!
Here is the original recipe: https://www.hersheys.com/recipes/en_US/recipes/2804/quick-creamy-chocolate-pudding.html
Stuff to Have
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped topping, optional
Fine motor, early science, cooking and baking
Add on Activities
Large Motor: As it starts to get colder getting large motor movement into the day gets harder and harder to do. Definitely take every chance you can to bundle up and get outside to run, jump, climb, and play! But on the days that you can’t, get creative. Try yoga for young children, keep a balloon up in the air, toss scarves up and try and catch them, or have a silly dance party. Not only will your kids have fun, they will be learning and growing at the same time!
Music and Rhymes: Have fun looking for winter themed music and rhymes! Hearing rhymes and the sing-songiness of music is building a foundation of phonics for learning letters and reading in the future! But for now, just be expressive and silly and have fun with it!
Books: Head to the library or read some of your favorite winter books. Reading is such an important activity for building vocabulary and adding to that foundation for reading in the future. Not only are they getting so many learning benefits from reading, but you are getting special one on one time with them!
Join us on Facebook! For more tips about play, activity plans, large motor, music and rhymes, and book ideas check out the Real. Meaningful. Family. Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/realmeaningfulfamily/
Mostly enjoy your child and happy playing!