Embracing Winter Play!
Getting Outside in Winter
When I am asked what my favourite season is, I cannot lie. I love winter! I love the snow and the cold. I love the red cheeks and rosy noses on the children when they come in after we have been playing outside.
For many of us caring for children, winter can feel daunting. We have all our children to get dressed in all their winter gear and have them keep it on while we get dressed. Then we need to get them outside before they all have a melt down or start to strip it all off because they are hot! I look at this job as more of a journey than focusing on the destination.
There are so many conversations we have with the kids as we are all getting dressed. We talk about the order or sequence of what we put on. We talk about left and right, about zippers and buttons, and what we are going to do outside. Really, the conversations are endless and they help with keeping the children engaged and less of a chance of them thinking about getting hot and frustrated. These conversations are also indirect learning; sequencing is a math concept, zippers and buttons are a great fine motor activity, encouraging the children to help each other is a way to encourage social skills and relationships.
Now that you have everyone outside, what are you going to do? Look around your yard at what you use in other seasons that can be cleaned off and dug out to be used in winter. We have access to branches, sticks, wood pieces, stones, pots and pans, cups and spoons, plates, and other kitchen tools. We bring out dinosaurs, animals, cars and trucks. You can use the weather to your advantage and freeze coloured water in balloons or plastic bags creating different shapes. The ideas the children will come up with to use these are endless. Last winter a few of the children looked at these coloured frozen chunks as dinosaur eggs while another group saw them as gems and jewels.
The movement to get children outside for longer in all weather, including winter, is continuing to grow and even if you have limited access to outdoor space, you can adapt what you do have access to. Quite often as adults we don’t want to be outside for long periods of time but children need that time outdoors. We as adults, need to dress for the weather so we can support their play and be out as long as they need us to be.
If you think boxes are only for summer, try them outside in the winter. All box sizes lead to lots of great ideas. As well as hiding in them or creating houses, children will fill them up with snow and then try to move them. There is some great heavy play to help them build their core muscles right there.
I have heard the quote several times, “there is no bad weather, just bad clothing”. Layer up and get outside! Our children need us to support them out there. Sometimes it just takes a little thinking outside the box! 🙂