During cold winter months children usually spend more time indoors. At that time parents have a difficult task – they need to create some interesting and educational activities for kids while they are at home.
The modern times we live in, along with the development of technology, have brought different widgets and entertainment for children. All they need is to turn on their computer and the fun can begin. Parents are quite busy nowadays, and often they don’t even know how much time their children spend in front of the computer. It does not worry them too much, since they sometimes think this might be a good alternative for their kids, especially when it’s so cold outside. However, there are many other ways how children can spend some quality time at home without being stuck in front of the screen. It takes just a little bit of our imagination, creativity, and a good will. Provide your child with a lot of colorful paper, crayons, watercolors, fabric, buttons and beads and let him or her express and be creative.
Let me share with you some of the ideas regarding activities for our kids that will not only entertain them, but also motivate and develop their imagination and motor skills.
I am sure many of you still remember how you made your first New Year paper snowflakes in kindergarten or at school. To make these ornaments, all you need is some paper, a pair of scissors and a little bit of your imagination. Begin with a square sheet of paper. Fold it in half twice, then on the diagonal. You will get a triangle. Let your child be creative by cutting paper with scissors in the way he or she wants. You will get the best snowflakes if you cut the paper only a few times. To get fancy snowflakes, use colored paper or let your child decorate them in colored pencil, crayon or marker. To make paper snowflakes, you can use compass drawn paper circles. It’s even easier to make snowflakes by using round coffee filter.
If your child is still too small to help you make these interesting decorations, you might let them create snowflake chains. For this activity you will need scissors, paper and thread or rope to hang snowflakes on the wall or doorcase, as well as sellotape to attach flakes to the thread. Stick the thread to make sure that the flakes will not become loose when children touch and match them to make a chain. Get two sheets of paper or coffee filters. Cut them round. Then put them on top of each other and cut them as you wish. Make a few snowflakes of different shapes. Hang them using a thread or rope so your child can reach them and start making snowflake chains.
Use your imagination to make unusual snowflakes. Your child can help you with that. Here are some of our ideas:
Shredded Paper Snowman
To make your own Shredded Paper Snowman you will need: 2 paper plates stapled together, shredded paper, white glue, scissors, black paper circles for eyes and buttons, orange paper triangle nose. You may add a hat or other decorations a child finds interesting for your little snowman. First you have to stample two paper plates together into a simple snowman shape. Then encourage your child to squeeze glue over paper plates and press handfuls of shredded paper onto the plates. If you want the paper stick better and give your snowman an extra dimension, add the second layer of glue and some more shredded paper on top of the first layer. When you make the body of a real little snowman out of these plates you can start decorating it. Let your child make his/her favourite snowman!
Here is another interesting way how to make your snowman. For this activity you will need sectioned tray, cotton cosmetic pads or white craft foam circles for snowman’s body, small twigs for arms, small lengths of ribbon, trim or fabric for the clothes, colourful buttons, plastic ice crystals, dried black beans. You can use other things as well to decorate the snowman. Give each child a stryrofoam meat tray and let them create their own snowman. This activity will encourage creativity of your child and test their fine motor skills.
If there is no snow during winter in our country, the following “recipe” can help you and your kids make artificial one, and enjoy in snowflakes and magical winter moments in your home. All you need is a pound of baking soda and shaving cream (whole bottle). First put baking soda into a larger plastic bowl and then slowly add the shaving cream. Let your child mix the ingredients until you get snow mixture to make snowflakes like real ones. To make them sparkle and shine, add some glitter.
Play Dough Activities
Making Christmas and New Year ornaments using play dough, clay or similar materials will help children discover the world around them and develop their fine motor skills. Place vinyl table cloth on the table, prepare a small apron or an old T-shirt and start making ornaments of different shapes and colours! Make sure the play dough you have chosen is flexible enough so that a child can make everything he or she wants without any difficulties that may occur if the material is too hard or too soft. Let them express their creativity without your interfering – perhaps they want to make a forest with forest animals, vegetables, a house for small creatures, jewelry…Their piece of art is not so important as the possibility to express themselves and develop different skills through rolling, pinching and squeezing.
Beside making Christmas ornaments, play dough can be used in many different ways, like for encouraging basic maths skills such as addition. Let your child use play dough to make three trees or baskets. The first two are the summands and the third tree or basket is the sum. Then the child can create different shapes of levaes, fruits, etc. Give them the task and let them explain you the operation and the result using the leaves or fruits. Learn together and play at the same time!
How to Make Play Dough at Home?
If you fear that your child might put play dough in the mouth, or you lack materials for making the ornaments, you can always make your own play dough. You will need:
- 2 cups plain flour
- 2 cups hot water
- 1 cup salt
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp citric acid
- Food colouring and flavoring (optional)
Mix all of the ingredients together, and stir over low heat. The dough will begin to thicken until it resembles mashed potatoes. When the dough pulls away from the sides and isn’t sticky anymore, remove the pan from heat and allow the dough to cool enough to handle. Split dough into 4 equal parts and make small balls. Make a dent in each of them with a finger. Then add a few drops of food colouring. To give the play dough a different smell you can use food flavoring.
Beside play dough you can use clay or dough as well. Use your fingers to pinch and poke a single lump of clay into any shape. It is not possible to add some details on the clay later on due to drying. Instead you must form the details right away from the piece of clay you are working with. To prevent drying, you can wrap unfinished sculpture in cellophane or wet cloth and leave it for a few days. Finished sculture can be dried (which requires 2-3 days) or you can fire it in a kiln. Then the clay is ready for painting.
When your children can’t play in the park due to cold weather or when they have nothing interesting to do, a little bit of your imagination and a few buttons can help you spend some quality time with them at home, playing, encouraging creativity and developing their motor skills. In this blog post we gave you some ideas how your children can learn through play suitable for these winter days. How do you entertain and educate your children during the winter months? We would like to hear your ideas and experiences.