It’s winter in New England and that means lots of cold weather. With it feeling as cold as twenty-five below outside, everyone is spending lots of time indoors. What fun activities can you do when you are stuck inside? We came up with the following fun ideas to encourage language, gross motor and fine motor with your child.
Cooking and baking: Children love to help cook! Following a recipe is a great way to practice reading, planning and organization. Give your child age appropriate tasks while cooking. Best part is when you are finished everyone will be able to eat their creations! It can be is a snack or a meal, your creation does not have to be a complicated one. You don't have to go to the grocery store (unless you want to extend the activity and have your child help you make a list of the items you need). Create a simple scavenger hunt of the ingredients you'll need to make a meal or snack. Have your child help you gather the ingredients. Play music, make it fun! Whether is a grill cheese sandwich, a cheese and chicken quesadilla, or an english muffin pizza. Set up the room, sit in the dining room if that's not the usual place you eat your meals. Or have a picnic in the living room! Lay out a blanket, set up paper plates, and enjoy your indoor winter picnic!
Build a fort: It doesn’t matter how old you are everyone likes building and playing in forts. Help your child get creative with ways to make the fort. Building a fort requires lots of communication to discuss the plan and ideas. Work on problem solving by limiting the items available to make the fort. Try non traditional ways, think beyond using sheets and pillows. Like using empty boxes, or empty oatmeal containers! Building a fort can work not only on problem solving, but also inferencing skills. It’s important to work together and help each other which in turn works also on social pragmatic language skills. It also works on bilateral coordination, using both hands to pick up the items needed to build the fort. Eye hand coordination which is important to determine where and how to place the pieces in order to build a fort.
Play Simon says: Let your child be Simon. This helps with sentence structure and work on using different concepts. If you are Simon work on giving your child multiple step directions. Work on different concepts and movements. For example, crab walk around the kitchen and then army crawl through the den to work on reciprocal movements and coordination. Oh, the many different movements you can create! From jumping jacks to bunny hops, and even expand their imagination. Try asking your child to act like a giraffe? or an out-of-space-alien?, what do you think you'll see! and to follow the winter theme, think winter movements like: make a snow angel, pretend you are skiing, or ice skate through the living room (barefooted or with socks on).
Gross motor bingo: Check out Pinterest to print out an already created one. Or make your own with your child's help. Let him or her come up with silly and challenging movements in order to get a bingo!
Science experiments: You don't even have to go to the library nowadays to check out books on science experiments! Make snow with baking soda and shaving cream. Let them get their hands dirty (but safe) so they can address their tactile needs by touching and playing and mixing all different kinds of science ingredients! Make ice, make it colorful by adding food coloring. Place small toys in the ice cubes, place in the freezer and once hardened, let them pretend to be Paleontologists or Archeologists! and discover what's inside their frozen eggs!
Puzzles: are great for fine motor coordination, visual tracking, figure ground (which is finding specific items/pieces hidden in a crowded background). Motor planning is also involved, problem solving, attention, and fun!! Above all fun and can be a great activity to do together. Communication is key when completing the puzzle and it’s important to work together. The dollar store has some inexpensive puzzles that are sure to keep your child busy and attentive in a winter afternoon if you do it together!
Board games: One of our latest find in this area, is the Left, Right, Center game. This game is sure to get their attention longer than 30 minutes!! And they won't even realize they learning directionality or orientation, spatial concepts, improving their attention skills, and coping skills as well due to having to engage in delay gratification as they have to wait and see who will win the pot of chips! You can make it more interesting by changing the plastic chips with pennies, dimes, and nickels so they can learn counting money too!
Arts and crafts: So many crafts can be done without having to break the bank. Make puffy paint with glue and shaving cream. Draw and paint a snowman, or a snowflake on construction paper with the puffy paint. Make sure to put a lot on the paper for the puffiness effect. Let dry overnight. The next day your child will be able to touch the hardened creation and amaze you with their skills! Make your own instruments using recycled items like tissue boxes, plastic containers, foil wrap and rubber bands. Get creative with items around the house to make a band with guitars, bells, drums, and whistles. Then have a concert! If you follow Gambaru on Pinterest you will see the many crafts we have saved and recommend!
Angela Flintoff, MS CCC-SLP Speech Language Pathologist