HJ-ED-DHJHerald Journal Columns
January 22, 2007, Herald Journal

Winter wonder play


Giving our children focused attention daily is important to their well being. There are many simple things we can do with our children daily to spend time with them and show them we care.

Give your child eye contact and physical contact, such as a hug or gentle pat on the back every day. As they get older they may act like they don’t want the hug, but they really do.

Even at this time of the year it is important, if possible, for children to spend some time outdoors to get that all needed fresh air and exercise.

It is proven that fresh air is positive for our emotional and mental well being and demeanor.

In fact, my children enjoy the winter season and playing in it just as much as the other seasons. Jumping, digging, sliding, gliding through any type of “stuff” certainly fascinates children of all ages.

Spend a little time outdoors during this winter season with your child, and I’ll bet you will find yourself enjoying the “white stuff” as well, while feeling exhilarated by the fresh air and your child’s companionship.

Here are some fun winter outdoor play ideas, aside from the fun sledding, snow ball, fort and snow person building:

• Get your Picasso minds going and fill spray bottles with colored water, and let the kids paint the snow.

• Have a scavenger hunt outside. Hide some type of items (play dinosaurs, plastic cups, etc.) outside in the snow in a certain area and allow your children to dig and search for the items. Reverse the roles. Kids like to hide things too.

• Get some kids-sized shovels and let the kids help you clear the driveway.

• Keep your sand toys accessible, and play in the snow with the toy pail, shovels and sand castle molds that make great snow molds also.

• If the ice is safe, go ice fishing on a local lake.

• Try ice skating at one of the local ice rinks. Some have warming houses and hills for tobogganing. For an indoor alternative, try open skating at an indoor rink.

If you don’t have ice skates, gliding with boots is fun too. Some sporting good stores have used skates for sale. That’s how we purchase our skates, and then we hand them down from one child to the next.

Our family usually skates a few times during the season at the indoor skating arena in Hutchinson. It has an open skating schedule, and is inexpensive for a family activity. It is only about $5 for a family for an hour and a half.

Of course, there is a snack bar that is generally open with hot cocoa and many other goodies available for purchase as well.

• Make a trip to one of the area tobogganing hills. Check out the area community education brochures. Many have skating and sledding opportunities listed.

• Play monster tag, hide-and-seek, etc. in the snow. It adds to the adventure when you have to trudge through the snow with snow apparel on.

• Play follow-the-leader in the snow, following in each others’ footsteps.

• Of course, always be cognizant of the temperature outside–avoiding and preventing any frostbite or other winter dangers and mishaps.

• When you get inside, enjoy some hot or warm cocoa or apple cider.

Here’s an idea for a pretty simple snowman craft to make indoors:

Using a paint stick, a Popsicle or craft stick, some paint and markers, create a snow person.

Glue the craft stick horizontally across the paint stick right under where the paint stick has indentations for holding it, and you have got Frosty’s top hat.

Paint the top hat in any color your child chooses and then paint the rest of the stick for the snow person’s body.

When the paint is dry, add the other facial details with markers or whatever you would like. You could use a small piece of scrap material for a scarf and glue it on.

Drill a hole in the top hat and use a pipe cleaner to be able to hang the snow person; add a magnet on the back to create a snow creature magnet; or just leave it and use for a book mark or just to admire or play with.

Enjoy the winter wonderland with your child and have a great day!