Winters in Virginia will always make the New Englander in me smile. Snow storms are few and far between, but when they come they bring with them snow days a plenty. you’ll hear a lot about how “Virgina doesn’t have the equipment or the snow budget…”, but I think M-man hit the mark best. When driving him back to school after four days off, he asked with a look of utter confusion on his face “But Mommy, we can’t go to school. There’s snow on the ground.” Well, snow is still on the ground, the weather forecast calls for another 6 inches tonight, and schools are fully expecting another couple of snow days. So parents will dress the little guys head-to-toe in marshmallow-filled snow suits and send them outside to play. Until the inevitable lost mitten, wet hands, snow ball to the face, or (and this is the worst) Mom gets cold. Too soon the winter wonderland adventure ends and cabin fever sets in. Pair that with the fact that in our house snow days mean drinking copious amounts of hot cocoa with extra marshmallows plus baking cookies or brownies or both and you can quickly have a preschool disaster. There are only so many crafts you can do and pictures you can color before one of you starts climbing the walls. So for all the parents gearing up for another snow day, here’s something I wrote during my preschool teacher years when you just can’t weather another snowman, but your little person needs to move. (Wall climbing not included.).
Here are a few ideas on how to keep a preschooler active when stuck inside:
Freeze Dance Party
Grab your tot and turn on the tunes! Anything with a beat will work. Dance and be silly with your child as you listen to the music. Help teach impulse control and listening skills by having the child freeze when you briefly stop the music. An added element to the Dance Party could be “dressing up” prior to the party – raid mom and dad’s closet and don silly hats, ties, make-up… anything can go as long as the child will not trip over it.
Turn your house into a personal training course. Run up stairs, climb under tables, tag walls, crab walk (or any other animal walk) across the living room, climb through hula hoops, lift up old sheets like parachutes, hop over jump ropes on the floor… the world (or your house) is your oyster!
Arrrgh, there be rough weather outside and a slurry of pirates inside. Your dining room table becomes a pirate ship when your tot finds a treasure map taped underneath! Use picture clues of items throughout the house to lead him or her on the hunt. At the end hide tissue paper coins inside a treasure bag along with a healthy snack. Share the snack together onboard the pirate ship (underneath the table) while counting the coins and reliving the hunt.
Encourage your child to appreciate the quiet beauty of a snowy day while you find your inner peace from your mats (or beach towels). Downward Facing Dog, the Cat Stretch, the Camel Stretch, the Tree Pose, and the Heart Pose are all child friendly yoga moves.
Draw your child into reading by acting out the book together. My family’s favorite is “The Gingerbread Man” as our little man “runs, runs, runs as fast as he can, but we can’t catch him because he’s the gingerbread man!”. Mom and Dad then take turns being the other characters. Click here for a list of recommended books.
Ask your child to listen to a poem as you read it. After you are finished, discuss the poem with your child. What were the favorite characters or event that happened? Then encourage the child to act out the characters or actions as you read the poem a second time.
Shape and Movement Game
Cut out various shapes from construction paper. When you hold up a triangle, your child can only move his or her head. When you hold up a circle, the child can only move his or her legs. For a square, only move shoulders; for a rectangle, only hips. For an oval, the child can move his or her entire body! Change shapes quickly and play music during the game to add to the fun.
Let your child act out the features/characteristics of some every day items such as a bike, rake, hose, wheelbarrow, beach ball, kitchen mixer, etc.
Using masking or painters tape make a line on the floor. Encourage your child to see how many things he or she can do on the line: jump over the line, walk on the line, hop along the line, stand on the end of the line with one foot, stretch out on the line, slide on the line, tiptoes across the line, roll over the line, lie beside the line, run or skip around the line, etc.
Classical Music and Movement
Play classical music to encourage creative movements. Selected sections from Saint-Saens’ Carnival of the Animals are excellent for inspiring animal movements; Tchaikovsky’s “Dance of the Little Swans” from Swan Lake is a natural for tiptoeing; Herbert’s “March of the Toys” from Babes in Toyland or Grieg’s “Norwegian Rustic March” from Lyric Suite; etc.
And when you run through these, “Do you want to build a snowman?”. Thanks for reading!