time – you are adding real value to their development. Luckily, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun while making the most of new activities during the winter months especially if you use a little imagination.
Here’s some of our favourite ways:
Visiting the Park and Pets’ Corner
When your kids are under the age of five it’s vital that they constantly improve their gross motor skills, where they effectively control their own limbs and movements which enables them to then perfect finer motor skills such as holding a pencil.
On milder, dry winter days take them to a local park where they have the freedom to run and jump. Have some fun with them by chasing after a large ball for a few minutes. Do your homework beforehand and find out if there is a park within a relatively short distance that includes a pets’ corner with rabbits, guinea pigs and a few other animals. Seeing animals at close quarters will help their perception skills as they evaluate sizes, smells and sounds of creatures they have only seen in books. Only suggest the visit as a last minute surprise to prevent them being disappointed if the weather’s bad.
If it’s pouring with rain this is your opportunity to show them how to have fun making their own fairground style amusements.
The first activity is super simple – teaching them how to toss a small ball into a container placed a couple of feet away. This is an enjoyable way to develop their hand and eye coordination as they learn to judge distances. Play is often about improvisation so encourage them to start problem solving by thinking what to use as a container. Adding extra containers will be even more exciting.
For the second activity use short sections of cardboard roll or two or three building blocks piled up to make skittles. Arrange them as in ten-pin bowling then take turns to roll a ball at the skittles letting your children use their counting skills to work out how many have been knocked over.
Using everyday items in new ways keeps the creativity flowing.
Enjoying the Outdoors
Young children are naturally curious and love to join in with what you are doing. You can help them develop an early appreciation of teamwork by giving them a role in easy jobs such as sweeping up the last of the autumn leaves or clearing light snow.
Plan in advance by purchasing children’s sized brooms and spades. Buy a bird feeder and pretend at first that you can’t work out how to open and fill it to see if they can help. When the feeder is in place, get them to fetch some water to fill a plant pot saucer for the birds to drink from. Later on you can enjoy helping them to identify any birds that are visiting. These types of activities encourage a community spirit and instil the idea of doing things for the benefit of others.
Museums and Libraries
It’s estimated that before the age of four the brain is around three-quarters of its eventual weight. Absorbing many new sights and sounds helps to increase the fluency of the connections within your kids’ brains to help increase their sense of awareness. Take them on visits to local museums that might have exhibitions specially designed for young children where they can look for shapes, colours and textures.
Simply wandering along the labyrinth of corridors can seem like an exciting adventure of exploration giving them the confidence to meet new challenges. Even adults can feel a sense of awe in some of the large, ornate halls so imagine how wondrous they would appear to your children. Make walking to the local library to discover new books a weekly treat then read them aloud when you get home.
A Day at the Races
Help your kids to make simple racing cars by using shoe boxes with four paper circles stuck to the sides as wheels. Add a nameplate or number to the front then add their soft toys as drivers. Even you can join in with your own car. Place a strip of cardboard or a piece of string as the finishing line then everyone helps their driver to go along the course by pushing the boxes. Encouraging them to win will help them gain a sense of achievement. Your role is vital here by teaching them to think of contests as a shared experience and to win or lose with good humour and no jealousy. If your children have one of their own kids electric cars you can develop this theme further by encouraging them to realise how good it is to share toys while taking turns to travel the length of the garden with the remote in hand.
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