Snow Day, Snow Play!Jan 24, 2021 ● By Lifescape, Megan Johnke, OTD, OTR/L, LifeScape
By: Lifescape, Megan Johnke, OTD, OTR/L, LifeScape
Living in the upper Midwest, we usually get our fair share of snow. While a snow day is great for hot chocolate, movies, and blowing the dust off a board game or two, it can also serve as a great medium for sensory play and learning activities.
Work on those overhand throwing skills by making snow balls and throwing them at a target! Overhand throwing skills begin developing between 18-24 months and are typically mature by 10 years of age (Hint – encourage mature step and throw by stepping forward with the opposite foot from the throwing hand).
Snow writing – spelling words, letter formation, etc. can all be done with paint in the snow. Fill condiment squeeze bottles (available for about $1 each at retail stores) with water and food coloring. Neon food coloring will give more vibrant colors, and Kool-Aid packets could replace food coloring to add scent! (Bonus – squeezing the bottle also helps build grip strength!)
Up your science experiment game, with the benefit of keeping the mess outside! Make a snow volcano with just a few simple ingredients you probably have around the house. Put a cup in the snow and build a volcano structure around it. Fill the cup with baking soda and food coloring (optional), add white vinegar and watch it erupt!
Heavy work is great to calm a sensory system that is overstimulated. Good old fashioned shoveling or brooming snow is a great way to help kids who are feeling disorganized, need help to calm down, or are feeling stressed. Scooping snow will have a positive impact on their sensory system and give them a sense of accomplishment. A reward of hot chocolate or cider when finished never hurts either. (Tip: kids with ADHD or sensory processing challenges may benefit from short periods of heavy ‘snow’ work between challenging tasks).
Sledding, even on a small slope, gives a double benefit of heavy work and vestibular stimulation. Our vestibular system helps with postural adjustments, perception of movement, and tells us our position in space. Vestibular input can have a lasting effect and paired with the heavy work of climbing back up the hill for another ride, we can let nature provide the perfect activity for sensory stimulation.
There are so many benefits to getting your kids outside for winter activities. The creative and independent play, the exercise and fresh air—plus happy memories that will last a lifetime.