The temperature is dropping, and those beautiful snowflakes are falling from the sky. You might be thinking that you’re stuck inside with the kids until it gets warmer, and that snow starts to melt. But our occupational therapists say it’s the perfect time to bundle up those kiddos and send them outside for some snowy adventures. Playing in the snow offers a ton of benefits for children, from physical activity to sensory awareness. So go ahead and embrace the winter wonderland while it lasts!
Snowcializing through Physical Play
From snowball fights to sledding adventures, each snowy activity becomes a way for your kiddo to connect with others and improve their socialization skills. Not to mention the fact that all that snow is the perfect backdrop for some serious fun physical activity! Whether they’re making snow angels, building igloos, or helping shovel, they’ll be getting in some exercise without even realizing it!
Frost-ivating Creativity and Imagination
Snow play is a great way to stimulate a child’s natural creativity and imagination. Building forts and snowmen are great examples of ways to let their creativity shine. Once the building is done you can even use washable paints and brushes to color and decorate their masterpieces.
Snowmazing Sensory Skills
Snowy terrain is a natural playground that can help kids improve their fine and gross motor skills and even engage their sensory awareness. Using all five senses they can see the snow falling, hear it crunch under their boots, smell the fresh air as it falls, touch it with their hands or feel it under their feet, and even taste the freshly fallen snow. Not to mention the fact that playing in the snow is a WORKOUT, providing deep pressure and heavy work/play which promotes sensory awareness.
SnowGuard: Boosting Immune Systems
Did you know that research shows that children who come into regular contact with dirt, trees, grass, and snow in an outdoor setting are less likely to develop autoimmune disorders and allergies? It’s true. So just by simply being outside in the snow their health is benefiting, not to mention that when the sun shines through those clouds they’ll be getting a much-needed dose of Vitamin D.
Frosty Fun and Positive Flurries
Outdoor snow play is a great way for kids to expend all that pent up energy they have from sitting in a classroom all day. The cold air invigorates them, and the positive interactions they have with friends while playing help to create an exciting and happy atmosphere. A bonus for mom and dad? After playing in the snow kids are more likely to enjoy a long restful night of sleep, setting them up for a happy tomorrow.
Snowpuzzling Problem Solving
Navigating the snowy landscape can be challenging for kids, but with that challenge comes the development of some pretty solid problem-solving skills. From figuring out the best way to build a sturdy snowman, to strategizing the construction of their snow fort, each adventure becomes a playful puzzle. Suddenly their fun snow adventure is a frosty classroom in nature.
Snowlective Language Development
Engaging in snowy escapades can also help improve your child’s language development. Use the new environment to teach and promote new vocabulary related to the weather and play. Whether they’re just starting to form words like cold, soft, hard, and white, or they’re working on their auditory processing skills to practice following more than one direction at a time, playing in the snow can be a tool to improvement. Allow them to build and shape their expressive communication while they work to build and shape their snowy play.
Don’t be afraid of the winter months. Learn to embrace the cold and encourage outdoor play even in the snow. By dressing appropriately and venturing outside, children gain significant sensory information that contributes to their overall well-being. From the cold wind on their faces to the visual tracking of falling snowflakes, every aspect of snow play becomes an exercise in mindfulness. Moreover, it creates common ground for bonding across generations, as everyone can participate in the joy of winter activities. So, let the kids play, explore, and revel in the magical world that snowy days bring. Just don’t forget the gloves!
The information shared in this article was provided by the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development’s occupational therapists Angie Rice and Bernie Hershey. Their extensive knowledge and experience has been essential in shaping the content of this piece.
If you are interested in learning about how Schreiber’s Pediatric Occupational Therapy Services can benefit your child visit http://www.schreiberpediatric.org/behavioral-health/
As a nationally recognized pediatric facility, the Schreiber Center for Pediatric Development provides family-centered education and therapy programs for infants, children and adolescents with disabilities, developmental delays, and acquired injuries. Our goal-oriented approach maximizes each child’s ability to function independently within the community.