Playing and learning in the snow!!!
It's snowing and we want to have fun and play outside! Playing in the snow is great for helping to develop language and play skills.
Snow-themed inside games:
Look at the snow out of the window with your child. Talk about the snow, what it looks like, what it's doing and how it feels e.g. 'snow is cold', 'big snowflakes' 'the snow is floating down'. What you say will depend on your child's age. If you have a toddler don't forget to ooh and aah and use very single language with 1-3 words. If your child is a older, think about concepts you could help your child learn e.g. size, shape, colour, or position. Use natural gesture or signs to help your child understand the words you are using e.g. a shiver action for cold or wide hands for big.
Why not sing a snow-themed song together. This website has some great ideas!:
Paper Snowflakes craft: Making paper snowflakes is fun and great for developing fine motor skills and sequencing skills. There are lots of instructions on line to get you started:
Watching TV/films: We all love a sofa day and the kids enjoy curling up in front of the TV. Television is not all bad! Children will learn from watching others talk and sing on the screen. What's important with television and films is to talk to your child during and after the programme about what they saw....how did the characters feel? Can your child tell you the story? Or maybe act it out? What was their favourite part of the film?
Why not bring the snow inside?!
If it's still snowing or too cold to go out, why don't you bring a little snow inside for your children to play with. Put some snow in a bucket or a tray. Let your child play with the snow - They could create snowballs or other shapes with the snow, describe actions as they do this e.g. roll, roll. Why not put their plastic toys e.g. cars/animals in the snow? Show them how to make objects with the snow e.g. a house for the animals, or pushing the snow around like a plough. Use simple language to describe what your child is doing e.g. 'push the snow!' 'weee, down the slope' Describe what happens to the snow too...'it's melting!'
Why not get out colouring pencils and encourage your child to draw patterns they can make in the snow later, or perhaps they could design a snowman and hunt out things in the house for the eyes, nose, mouth etc of their snowman. Drawing family members in snowman form is also fun! Don't forget to talk about the patterns and do your own too and talk about your picture e.g. 'I'm drawing' 'this is a big loop' 'round and round' 'My snowman has a Loooong nose!'
Older children might like to see if they can create a story about a snowy day; it could be written, acted out or maybe they could even create a Lego stop-action movie like this:
Getting ready to go out:
Think about the language you use when you're getting ready to go out and play. Encourage your child to find different items of clothing they need and name clothing for them as you help them get dressed. Talk about why we wear them e.g. gloves to keep our hands warm. Say 'silly things' e.g. I'm going to wear my shorts! Silly daddy, you wear shorts in summer!
Think about verbs too - describe what you are doing e.g. 'pull socks on' 'push foot in boot'.
If your child struggles to remember everything they need to get ready, some photos or pictures would be useful to help them know what to do. If your child is anxious or on the autistic spectrum don't forget to simply prepare them for the differences outside, and remind them it's ok if they don't like the snow and would rather play inside!
If your child is little - a toddler or not walking yet, let them sit in the snow/toddle around and explore their surroundings. Play alongside them with the snow saying what you are doing in single words e.g. push, clap, jump, crunch, stomp.
Fun in the snow:
This is often the first thing children want to do in the snow. It's great fun and good for developing core stability and gross motor skills. 'Where will we sledge today? Who is going to come with us? (if you child finds questions hard, look up Makaton signs and use these to help them learn the meaning of questions).
Sledge with your child if you can or wait for them at the bottom/top then talk with them about their ride....'that was really fast' 'You both went down the biggest hill!'. If your child is young make sounds when you're sledging e.g. weeee! and use short phrases to talk about the sledge e.g. red sledge, it is fast!, down the hill, climb up.
Sledging is also great for developing turn taking skills with other children. Praise these when you can. Don't forget to talk to your child about how it feels sledging too - how does their body feel? Can they use emotion words e.g. excited, worried, fantastic!
2. Rolling snow into snow balls or see who can make the biggest. Great for teaching comparatives e.g. big, bigger biggest....good, better, best! For little ones say 'roll roll', 'pat, pat' etc as you carry out actions.
3. Make patterns in the snow with a stick or your hands, describe the actions as you do them. Maybe you could make a maze? You could even practise writing!
4. Make a snow sculpture...one year we made a snow dinosaur - the options are endless! Talk about what you are making and why. Perhaps you could make your favourite animal?
5. Look around you at your everyday surroundings - can your child recognise places e.g. the local postbox, the bus stop. What is hidden by the snow? What is new? Have animals left tracks - can you find any bird prints or dog prints?
6. Listen......the snow often makes everything seem very quiet. It's a great time to listen to environmental sounds such as bird noise. Or maybe you can hear a car? What noises can you hear?
7. Use your outside toys in a different way! A slide might not be safe for your child but their toys could still go down it, a mud kitchen works just as well as a snow kitchen and buckets and spades work with snow as well as sand. Don't forget children love to copy grownups too...let them help you shovel snow, clean the car windscreen etc. Talk about what you are doing together!
8. Catch a snowflake on your tongue. What does it taste like? How does it feel? Cold, funny, different, like water....there are lots of words you can use.
9. Action time! Carry out different actions in the snow. 'Simon says' is fun in the snow! Can your child hop? Skip? Slide? Walk backwards? Why not film your funny activities on a phone so the children can show friends, teachers or relatives and talk about what they did? Even if they're too little to talk, they can show the video/photos and you can describe for them.
10. Go to a local cafe. If you have a day off school why not take your child somewhere different, to the local shop or cafe might be a good place to start. Encourage them to order their drink if they can and you/they can tell the server what you have been doing on your fun day. Don't forget to sit near the window so you can talk about what the snow and others are doing outside!
Most of all....Stay Safe and Have fun!!!