Children and adults tend to look at winter differently. As adults we see winter as shoveling, freezing temperatures, high energy bills, and Netflix marathons to avoid the outdoors. For children winter is a magical time with snow flurries, sledding, snow angels, and snow ball fights. These opposing views on the winter season can be cause for some conflict when working in childcare. While most adults wish outside play during the winter months could be avoided, it is extremely beneficial for children to be outside, even when there is snow on the ground. I have compiled a list of activities to help us get back into the child-positive view of winter.
- Change your attitude! Children are extremely impressionable and can be easily influenced by our emotions and opinions. It is our responsibility as thoughtful caregivers to encourage the children in our care to explore all of their environments. If we look at playing outside during the winter months as an adventure so will the children!
- Dress for the weather! I hear a lot of providers say the weather is too cold, even if it is within the Illinois weather permitting definition of 25°-90° for active gross motor outside play. As it has been said before, “There isn’t poor weather, just poor clothing”. Make sure to encourage children (and yourself) to wear multiple layers, including a loose layer. The layers trap in the heat and make it much more comfortable to be outside. Wear gloves, boots, scarves and hats to fight the cold air!
- Go out and explore! There are many great advantages to being outside during the winter months. Nature takes on a whole new look, and that allows us to see it through a whole new lens. You can look for animal tracks in the snow, study trees without their foliage, or create science experiments like what happens when you add salt to ice or snow. By giving children the opportunity to explore their environments in all types of weather it helps them to make important connections!
- Build your own winter wonderland! Snow is an amazing medium for building. Help the children make snow men and snow forts. Playing in the snow is a great gross motor activity!
It’s so easy to get into the habit of staying inside when the weather turns cold, but it truly is a great time to get children out and play. Among the many benefits of outdoor winter play are getting away from the germs that build up indoors, promoting problem solving and imagination, and helping children get a much needed dose of vitamin D. Now is the time to throw on our snow boots and knit hats and to ask the ultimate question, “Do you wanna build a snowman?”
Author: Audrey Ballard