By Ken Myers
There is just something about these seasons that makes me feel alive. There are so many fun activities and events in fall and winter that I just don’t know where to start. Every year my children and I have a blast coming up with new things to do during our time off. From playing in the snow to hay rides and gift-making, we all stay very busy and happy this time of year. Here are a few of our favourite activities:
1) Hayrides and tree cutting
Find a farm near your home that has hayrides set up. Kids love to wrap up warm and bump along the dirt roads and watch the horses in awe. Slow and steady is the name of the game, but all of us never get bored with so many new sights and smells. We arrive at a barn full of hay and they have a great time playing in the loose hay and winding around the kid-friendly hay maze.
Pet some farm animals and make a day of it! And close to Christmas, head out again to pick out your own tree and bring it home.
2) Special visits
Find a new place to go that you haven’t been before. It could be a museum, an art gallery, a theatre or a unique shop. Get them to help you find the way there and explain a bit of the building’s history as you arrive. Plan a short, but interesting tour that your kids will remember.
3) Snow fun
When the wind starts to blow and the snow comes falling down I can always count on some chilly sensory playtime—from making snowballs to snowmen to forts. You can also do experiments with the snow and ice. Making balloon snow marbles is fun and easy. Just fill a balloon with coloured water and let it freeze outside. Then pop the balloon and you have a beautiful snow marble! Another fun snow time activity is snow painting. How often do you get to squirt out your paintings? Only in the snow! Fill squirt bottles (like mustard or ketchup) with water colour or food colouring. Make it dark so it shows up bright against the snow. Then let kids squirt out their art. Lots of fun and requires motor skill practice!
4) Creative cooking
Getting your youngsters involved in cooking is a great way to keep them busy and teach them to help out. One easy thing my kids enjoy making are coated pretzels. Use white almond bark, melt it and then dip pretzels for a fun holiday snack. Add some colourful sprinkles suiting the season and it is a perfect appetizer, dessert or gift. The kids love to get their fingers sticky and get dipping. The bark melts at a very cool temperature so it does not hurt their fingers and they can have fun making a bunch before they get tired of playing with their food.
5) Fort building
A fun indoor activity that will keep kids busy and happy is fort building. They can use couch cushions, sheets and whatever else they can find to make their own little cozy spaces. Two chairs with a sheet stretched between them is enough to make a fun fort or club house for a child. Serve them a snack picnic in there and pop in a few good books and they’ll stay happy for hours.
6) Decorating for festivities
Another fun holiday activity involves helping with decorations. My kids love to help me decorate the house for the holidays. They are so proud to show off their contribution to the décor. From colouring paper garlands to stringing popcorn and cranberries, there is always something they can do to help out.
Fine motor skills are practiced by stringing small items to wind around the Christmas tree. Rainbow hand turkeys are great for the dining room table centerpiece. Handmade ornaments make great
7) Homemade gifts
Making presents can teach kids to think of others. It does not have to be complex and each child chooses which gift they will make. My daughter loves to bake and make braided bracelets. She chooses special colors for each person on her list. My son makes clay sculptures and has even made tie-dye shirts for his gifts. Through making their own gifts they not only practice planning ahead but they also learn to be thoughtful and empathetic of others. Even small children can make simple pasta necklaces, fun wind chimes or tasty treats to give away to friends and family members.
Ken is the President of morningsidenannies.com. His focus is helping parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.
Adapted with permission from kidcompanions.com.