Liz Pearce, Director of Parent Engagement
Children’s Museum of Richmond
As we know, babies, toddlers and preschoolers need active time balanced with quiet activities. If you can’t go outside, you’ll need to have a selection of activities at hand that are educational and fun. Right now, in and around your home, you can strengthen critical thinking skills, boost creativity, strengthen gross motor skills, fine tune fine motor skills and improve literacy. Without much effort, you can increase their language skills, science exploration, and healthy movement. Grab a bowl, and start jotting down ideas on scraps of paper. Put them in the bowl whenever you think of them, and when a cold day comes, you’ll be glad to have 5 or 10 ideas within reach. Here’s a few to get you started:
Cold, Colder, Coldest – Hunt for items around the house that are cool or cold, such as grapes from the refrigerator, ice cubes, a cup of cold water, or some rocks from outside. Arrange them from cold to coldest, and use descriptive words – like “freezing”, “icy” or “chilly”. This game is a literacy builder, by using descriptive words, and a math concepts booster, with comparisons and sorting.
Ice Play – A toddler is ready to play with ice cubes on her high chair tray, and she will enjoy playing with shaved ice or chopped bits of ice in a shallow pan. Add spoons, cups and ice cream scoopers for measuring and dumping. Eye-hand coordination and fine motor control are happening during this type of play. Early math concepts of size, amount, shapes can also be learned here.
Recess – Push the furniture against the walls, and clear a space somewhere in your house, basement or garage where children can dance, move and play. If you have a safe, uncluttered area in your basement or garage, allow kids to wheel around on their scooters or roller blades (protective equipment still needed!). Your child will be strengthening gross motor skills, such as rolling, grabbing or reaching, and using their imagination which boosts resourcefulness.
Build an indoor fort, or better yet, create a tunnel for your toddler to crawl through. Pretend your exploring a cave and play hide-and-seek with stuffed animals. Beyond the creative outlet, your child will be setting up an environment that allows her to set the amount of risk and stress she is ready for. Early math and science concepts can be observed, such as determining what size blanket will cover the fort, and comparing the amount of space a that child occupies in the fort with an adult’s space needs.
Freeze Play – Similar to Freeze Tag, but without the chasing, children start dancing or jumping or moving, until the leader calls “Freeze!” This will teach self-regulation skills such as self-control, waiting, and impulse control. Add music to keep the energy level high, and take turns being the leader.
Wear layers and Avoid Tight Clothing
Tight clothing, contrary to popular belief, does not keep you warmer. Tight clothing actually inhibits circulation so the body will not warm itself as efficiently. In addition, there is less chance for warm air to be trapped in the clothing for insulation.
(Information gathered from “Zero to Three National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families” and the SixtySecondParent.com)