Lauras Daily Madness

Monday, January 17, 2011

Winter themed ideas for toddlers!

I know from experience that winter leaves you limited on activities you can participate in outside of your house. Its too cold, too wet or too snowy to go to the playground, zoo or even take walks around the neighborhood. And sometimes as the days being stuck inside with your child stretch on, cabin fever sets in and for your child’s own safety… you need some ideas!

A lot of these ideas come from my own classroom and from researching units that I did with my first graders. When sharing these activities I had a few goals. 1. I wanted activities that could be modified for different age ranges as I know some of you have multiples at home. 2. I wanted something easy to throw together and easy to clean up. 3. I wanted the learning goals to be simple for mom to understand so that she could feel empowered to take an active role in her child’s learning. So with those 3 goals in mind, here are some ideas for you as the cold days stretch ahead!

Vocab for winter time!

Ok so vocab doesn’t sound all that fun. And if you sit there with flashcards, its not. What I WOULD urge you to do is to get either a white board or even just index cards and write a few words on them that you would feel that your child doesn’t know yet but has the ability to learn. If your child is young this could be just to identify objects (point to the sled!), if your child is older this could be being able to say the word (can you say snow?) and if your child is even older, be able to use the word in their everyday vocabulary (what are some things we do outside when its snowing?) As you complete other fun activities look for learning opportunities where you can point out your vocab goal words. Sleds might appear in books. During art projects, ask them what appears in their snow pictures to see if they can identify some of your words. You do NOT have to teach all the words in one sitting! But 3-5 goal words is an easy goal for you to achieve and keeps you on focus for a few words to work on. Once your child learns those words, add some more! As your child masters the words, place a magnet besides the words on your white board or star them.

Here are my vocab words for my 2 year old:







You can also print them with pictures of the words to help early readers or kids that really like to spell correctly. Keep yourself from spelling 'snow' out loud 200 times and make a word card!

Here are a few I made with Ramona’s kit Snow is Glistening:


These word cards can also help special needs or any children with limited speech. If your two year old always gives you a hard time about getting him completely dressed in his winter garb before going outside, make a few cards showing ALL the items he needs on and put them in sandwich size zip lock baggies. Hole punch them and use yarn to make a chain of them. Then when you are getting ready, when he starts to wiggle, point and say ‘oh we don’t have on our mittens or our hat yet!’ This easy visual lets him know exactly what the delay is about and makes him feel more in control of the situation.

For special needs kids you can make a lot of different cards with different activities and ask them what they want to do outside. They may can show you the right card even if they can’t vocalize that. It helps cut down on their frustration with not being able to tell you what’s going on. You can also make visual schedules of how their day is going to go. This helps cut down on frustration when something new is happening (going shopping). They can look at the schedule and see. I’ve even seen some parents cut out pictures of foods from mcdonald’s and laminate them so their child can tell them what they want when they go to the restaurant. Never underestimate the power of communication even in a picture form.

Books to read

Books are key with any unit you may want to participate in with your child. Books are interesting to children, grab their attention and give you an easy way to point out objects to increase vocabulary. If you don’t get snow in your area, your child may never come in contact with snow men or sleds. However once they get into school they might come across stories or questions that have these vocabulary words in them. Their understanding of these words can be a key part of their future learning. Your local library is a great resource. Log in online, request your books and go pick them up all at once.

Books for things we wear in the winter time:

Books for winter activities:

Snowmen at Night is one of my all time favorite books! The pictures are beautiful and they have hidden pictures in the snow. It focuses on a lot of different winter time activities to do in the snow.

Books for hibernation and animals in winter:

Board books for little ones:

I’d recommend getting 5-10 books just to have a variety to see what your child likes. Read them for bedtime, naptime and throughout the day. Multiple readings is best. If your child can’t actually sit through the story, just talk about the pictures or make up your own story based on the pictures.

Indoor snowball fights!

After reading some of your books, have your own indoor snowball fight. Roll some balls of paper up to make your own snowballs. Set up empty milk jugs, cans or light toys and practice knocking them over.

Painting with ice!

I’ve done this with my classroom children. You can do these with normal ice cube trays but they are more fun if you have the shaped ones. Right now at Target in the dollar bin they have mini ice cube trays in the shapes of hearts. Dye some water with food coloring and freeze into trays. Pop them out and water color with your new colors! You can discuss melting, freezing, color words and shapes. Draw snow scenes with older children.

Make your own snowflakes!

Make some of the old fashioned snowflakes with sheets of paper and scissors. Tie them to string and hang them from your child’s ceiling to make a winter wonderland for them to snooze in. Use glitter for extra pretty snowflakes.

Snow scenes on the table!

Spray the kitchen table down with shaving cream and let your child finger paint snow scenes, letters, their name or anything else you are working on in it. Afterwards, wipe your table off and it will probably be cleaner then when you started.

Bring the snow indoors!

If its too cold outdoors or you don’t feel like bundling and unbundling all day long, fill up a kiddie pool, pot or dish pan full of snow. Bring out the sand play tools for some winter fun! Build mini snowmen to keep in the freezer for more fun later.

Clothes sorting!

Collect some different seasonal clothing items. Either cut pictures out of magazines, print them off the computer or use real clothes! Talk about what we wear in winter and let your child dress up if its real clothes. Now what about summertime? In the rain?

And a little freebie for today:


They actually have a clear background but you can't see the white squares unless I turn it black. You can download the word card template here.


CBH said...

Thank you so much for this post. I want to let you know that I posted a link to your blog in CBH Digital Scrapbooking Freebies, under the Page 7 post on Jan. 17, 2011. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick note to let you know that a link to this post will be placed on CraftCrave in the DigiFree category today [18 Jan 01:00am GMT]. Thanks, Maria