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8 Fun Things to Do With Your Family in Winter

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Make Memories to Last a Lifetime

Kids dreaming of snow days. Mom and Dad reading by a fire. Hearty stews baking in the oven, and stores decked out for the holidays. It's winter, the time of year when families huddle together indoors, get reacquainted, binge-watch their favorite shows, and make memories to last a lifetime. It's so easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season and the buy, buy, buy mentality. But it's so much better to slow down and enjoy the simple things. Here are 8 of my family's favorite things to do in winter:

1. Make "Monster Toast"

Making "Monster Toast" is so easy, quick, and fun.
Making "Monster Toast" is so easy, quick, and fun. | Source

Making Monster Toast became a tradition in our household when my sons were little – just 3 and 6. They both loved to cook, but it was hard to find simple recipes that didn't call for a lot of help from me and didn't turn our kitchen into a complete disaster zone. Monster Toast became an instant hit because it's so incredibly simple and you don't need to rush to the store for more ingredients. On snowy evenings, we'd eat it before bedtime while reading a good book and sipping some hot chocolate.

INGREDIENTS:

  • milk

  • bread

  • butter

  • food coloring

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Pour a little milk into bowls.

  2. Add a couple drops of food coloring in each bowl and stir.

  3. Create a monster face on a slice of bread with paintbrushes (let younger kids paint the entire slice different colors).

  4. Toast.

  5. Butter lightly.

  6. Enjoy!

2. Make Gingerbread Play-dough

Working with play-dough builds strong fingers and hands and enhances fine motor skills.
Working with play-dough builds strong fingers and hands and enhances fine motor skills. | Source

The smells of the winter holidays are unique and become entrenched in our memories. Gingerbread is one of the most distinctive. My boys and I whipped up a batch of this gingerbread play-dough each December. They loved using my holiday cookie cutters to make pretend cookies shaped like reindeer, ornaments, candy canes, and wreaths.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups flour

  • 1 cup salt

  • 4 teaspoons cream of tartar

  • 2 cups water

  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil

  • Any combination of cinnamon, allspice, ginger, nutmeg, etc.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  1. Boil the water.

  2. In another bowl, mix all other ingredients. You want enough spices to turn the dough light brown.

  3. Pour BOILING water on top.

  4. Mix until dough starts pulling away from sides of bowl.

  5. Put the dough on wax paper and knead until it becomes soft and smooth.

3. Learn a Poem: "A Chubby Little Snowman"

A chubby little snowman (put hands in front of stomach)

Had a carrot nose (touch nose).

Along came a bunny (put 2 fingers in front, making a bunny)

And what do you suppose? (put hands out and shrug shoulders)

The hungry little bunny (put 2 fingers in front, making a bunny)

Looking for his lunch (put hand above eyebrows, searching)

Ate the snowman's carrot nose.

NIBBLE, NIBBLE, NIBBLE, NIBBLE, NIBBLE, NIBBLE, NIBBLE (move thumb and fingers together as though eating)

CRUNCH! (clap)

4. Make Reindeer and Give Them as Gifts to Grandparents and Teachers

These reindeer are so easy to make and grandparents love them!
These reindeer are so easy to make and grandparents love them! | Source

During the gift-giving season, I wanted to teach my sons about sharing themselves with others. I wanted them to know how much grandparents and teachers appreciate a homemade present – something made with their own two little hands. This reindeer project proved perfect for that, and it's so easy!

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Have your child trace his shoe on a piece of brown paper for the deer's face.

  2. Have her trace her hands on patterned paper for the antlers.

  3. Have her put on eyes, a nose, a bow, etc. to make the reindeer unique.

  4. Have her put string through the top of the reindeer if she wants it to get hung on a Christmas tree.

5. Ice Skate on Wax Paper!

When my boys were preschool age, the winter days at home were often very long, especially when the snowy weather kept us indoors. But one of the activities they loved most was indoor ice skating on our kitchen floor! It was terrific exercise for them and it kept them busy for hours – pretending to sell tickets at the rink, setting up a refreshment stand, and learning new tricks on the ice. It was even more fun when their friends came over for play dates.

MATERIALS:

  • CD player and music (Waltzing music works well)

  • two pieces of wax paper per child (big enough so the youngster can stand on them)

  • lots of room for skating (carpet and tile flooring works well)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Give each child two pieces of wax paper.

  2. Tell them to pretend they're skating at a rink or frozen pond.

  3. Tell them to glide on their magic skates, keeping their feet firmly on the wax paper.

  4. Tell them to feel the music as they skate. Encourage them to create routines like professional skaters.

6. Play "Flashlight Tag"

During the dark winter evenings, my boys loved to play flashlight tag before bedtime. I promised them we'd all play together as a family if they first brushed their teeth and got into their pajamas. When they were little, we played indoors and, when they grew older, we played outdoors. While called flashlight tag, it's really hide-and-seek with one player being “it.

DIRECTIONS:

  1. If you're playing inside, turn off the lights and make the house dark. If you're playing outdoors, wait until it gets dark.

  2. One player is “it” and uses a flashlight to spot the hiding players.

  3. The last one found becomes “it.”

7. Make "Magic Reindeer Food"

Getting kids involved in the season and making memories is much more important than writing a braggadocios holiday newsletter or maxing out your credit card to buy gifts. When my sons were in the primary grades, they loved making little presents to give to their friends. It made them feel empowered to give something, not just receive. Magic Reindeer Food was an easy gift to make and popular with their buddies.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 cups oatmeal

  • 1/2 cup sugar

  • 1/4 cup red or green sugar crystals (used for cake decorating)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. In a small zipper food storage bag, mix the ingredients.

  2. Cinch with a holiday ribbon.

  3. Attach this not:

On Christmas Eve sprinkle “Magic Reindeer Food” on your lawn before you head to bed. The Christmas sugar will sparkle when the moonlight hits it. The shine will help Santa find your house before the sun comes up. The smell of fresh oats will attract the hungry bellies of the reindeer. No need to worry, follow this recipe and when you wake up Santa will have paid a visit and his reindeer will remember you forever!

8. Play in Shaving Cream

Playing with shaving cream is a therapeutic experience for kids with sensory issues.
Playing with shaving cream is a therapeutic experience for kids with sensory issues.

Like many children with autism, my older son has sensory issues. When he was a preschooler, he hated the touch of certain textures such as sand, glue, and feathers. To help him get familiar with the different feel of things, we did a LOT of sensory activities. One of his favorites was playing in shaving cream. I'd just pick up a few cans at the Dollar Tree and the boys were guaranteed hours of fun – exploring, creating, and learning new textures are fun, not scary.

In the winter, I'd spread the shaving cream on our kitchen table and let the boys have at it, pretending it was snow. They'd drive their Hot Wheels through it. They'd play with their penguins in it. They build snow caves, snow forts, and snow trails. Most importantly, I let them direct their own play and make their own decisions about what to do with the shaving cream (I was always nearby to make sure it was safe and not overly messy).

Here are some other ways to explore with shaving cream:

  • Add colored sugar crystals, glitter, or colored sand to the shaving cream for texture.

  • Put shaving cream on a window or glass door so kids can experience it on a glass surface.

  • Have kids practice writing numerals and letters in the shaving cream with their finger or pencil.

  • Add a little food coloring to the shaving cream. Use paint brushes to create a picture with it.

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4 comments

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letstalkabouteduc 6 weeks ago from Bend, OR Author

Thanks, Denise. My favorite part of flashlight tag was using it as motivation to get them in their pajamas and brush their teeth. Worked every time!


letstalkabouteduc profile image

letstalkabouteduc 6 weeks ago from Bend, OR Author

Thanks, Bill. Since I grew up in the Bay Area, I get a thrill from the snowy winters here. It's still amazingly beautiful to me even after 10 years.


Denise 6 weeks ago

What excellent play activities for the kiddos. I'll have to introduce the flashlight tag to my grandkids. They will love it! Thanks.


Bill 6 weeks ago

Well ready or not, here it comes. Winter has arrived in the Pacific Northwest, and now I'm just trying to wrap my brain and emotions around it.

You always have great suggestions!

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    letstalkabouteduc profile image

    Nancy Mitchell (letstalkabouteduc)51 Followers
    88 Articles

    Nancy taught pre-k, kindergarten, and earned a master's in special education. A son with autism showed her the value of early Intervention.



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