Are you parenting or caring for a child while simultaneously dealing with remote learning, quarantine, winter weather, working from home or all of the above? For many of us, it can feel almost impossible to have the energy and inspiration to keep your kids learning on a daily basis. Take a deep breath! I’ve got you covered with some easy, low-prep, and minimal mess activities that will keep your kids engaged while targeting a variety of developmental skills. Learning through play is a vital part of attaining and refining new skills. Developmental experts suggest that play based activities contribute to brain development (Yogman et al., 2018)
Sweet Snowflake Decorating
Mini marshmallows are the perfect size to encourage grasping skills with little fingers. Have your child use their fingers to decorate the snowflake outline with marshmallows. The small size of the marshmallows will help to promote proper finger positioning by forcing kids to pinch with their index finger and thumb. They are also working on visual skills as they follow the snowflake pattern while lining up their marshmallows. Add in some tweezers or tongs to switch it up and support hand strengthening.
Shaving Cream Snowman
If messy play stresses you out, I get it. Do yourself a favor and set this one up in the bathtub or on the tiled walls, this way you can easily clean all surfaces and your kids as well (be sure to supervise carefully). Allowing your child to explore textures through play can contribute to targeting a variety of developmental skills. One study revealed that messy play helps to develop imagination and creativity among preschool children (Yin et al., 2014). Kids learn best when engaging in play activities that stimulate multiple senses at once. Using shaving cream can help with exploration and tolerance of sensory input that may even help picky eaters with tolerating textures. It can also be used to enhance fine motor skills or practice forming shapes, numbers and letters.
PRO TIP- If your little one has difficulty tolerating textures, stick with gradual exposure. Always keep a towel near by, allow them to wash their hands and never force! Allow them to use paintbrushes to explore shaving cream at first in order to make them more comfortable.
Match & Mend the Broken Hearts
This is an activity inspired by Valentine’s Day however, it’s an easy DIY that can definitely be used year round. These foam pieces are from the dollar section, I cut them into shapes and had my little one match & piece together with tape! Using tape with helps to encourage fine motor skills and hand strengthening.Hot Chocolate Sensory Bin
This one is perfect for that cold snowy day! Add some scoopers, tongs, cinnamon sticks, a packet of hot chocolate mix & some marshmallows and you’ll have yourself the perfect snow day sensory bin. Using scoopers and tongs during sensory play is good practice for utensil use and can help develop skills necessary for self-feeding.
Color the Snow!
The snow days are long but this will keep your kids busy and active. If it’s too cold to stay outside, scoop up some snow and bring it inside! Place snow in trays and have your kids practice making snowballs. You can use food dye to color the snow. Use droppers or a turkey baster to drop the dye onto the snow. This is a perfect opportunity to work on color recognition and identification while also targeting grasp and hand strength. Want to play outside? The snow is your canvas and guess what? Painting on snow requires minimal set-up and clean up!
Yin, Lee & Zakaria, Abd Razak & Hutagalung, Fonny & Mohd Salleh, Umi Kalsum. (2014). Creativity and imagination in messy play among preschool children. 10.1201/b16658-61.
Yogman, M., Garne, A., Hutchinson, J., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Michnick Golinkoff, R. (2018, September 1). The Power of Play: A Pediatric Role in Enhancing Development in Young Children. American Academy of Pediatrics. https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/142/3/e20182058