Bundling up and heading outdoors in the cold weather can spark creativity in your toddler, Kris Kiser writes
Parents and guardians may be tempted to dial back outdoor activities for kids when cold temperatures arrive, but playing outside is good for children, even in the wintertime. Here are some hints to make the most of the winter season.
Do winter activities that are fun. Weather that adults consider to be “messy” can be a huge canvas for children and their imaginations. Snowballs, snow forts and trees covered in snow offer a wealth of opportunities for children to explore and experiment in our living landscapes.
Encourage exploration. Ask your child to look at how the landscape changes with the seasons. Talk about what happens after leaves fall, when snow arrives, when it’s windy, and more, linking these seasonable changes with basic science about clouds, rainfall, temperature changes and the earth.
Play with them. Get outside in the winter with your children. It’s healthy for both kids and adults to move! Have a snowball fight, build a snowman or fort, or go sledding.
Try something new. Try cross-country skiing, igloo-building, hiking, ice fishing, ice skating, snow sculpting or snowshoeing to give children an appreciation of the outdoors in all seasons.
Attend a community festival. There are many community festivals year-round, and winter festivals can be exceptionally fun and offer activities for kids.
Mention how happy it can make them. Sunlight boosts vitamin D, which helps regulate emotional and mental moods by increasing serotonin in the brain. Even exposure to the weaker sunlight in the winter can cause this happiness boost.
Tolerate some mess. It’s a given that kids going outside in the snow will often return wet, muddy and messy. Be prepared for wet and cold kids and get them warmed up when they return from playing outside.
Process what they did. Ask kids to share about what they did outdoors. You can ask them to talk or write about, or draw their activities and observations. Did they observe something new? Did something surprise them? What was fun?