With winter in full frigid form, we tend to spend more time indoors. Kids can get bored, so it’s important to create opportunities for play, as play helps children learn as well as aids the development of their brains and bodies.
In our society, we often focus on highly scheduled and structured activities instead of offering breaks for free will play. In addition to encouraging free play, parents can also help their child’s development by talking, reading, and singing with them every day.
Examples of this include describing the things we see in the world around us to our child and taking turns talking and listening. Parents and kids can look at picture books, read stories and practice their favorite rhymes and learn new ones weekly.
As children grow up, they need to explore while they play. Make sure your child’s surroundings are safe both inside and outside when letting them discover how to do things for themselves. Not only will they become more independent, they’ll also grow up with the valuable skills of how to ‘learn’ by doing.
Introduce your children to new people and surroundings so they can find out how to get along with other children and how to handle new situations. Take your kids to the park and playgrounds to make sure they have access to indoor and outdoor play opportunities.
Children need a variety of play materials and toys corresponding to their developmental age when they play. Outdoor materials may consist of a sandbox, snow, water puddles, soil, and rocks. Indoor materials might include plastic containers, measuring cups, empty boxes and play dough.
Think about your child’s interests and needs when choosing toys, games, and activities, and enjoy playing together in a safe and stimulating environment. Coloring books and crayons are good play staples for any home. Coloring helps kids develop and improve their motor skills, prepares toddlers for school, stimulates creativity, contributes to better handwriting, helps them learn about lines, shapes, colors/hues, perspective, patterns and forms, improves focus, improves hand and eye coordination, they learn boundaries and staying with the lines, improves confidence and self-esteem, opens up self-expression, and it’s a tremendous stress release.
If you spend a lot of time indoors over the winter season, offering home made play dough to your child might be an activity they would resonate with and enjoy. Play dough encourages creativity and it is good for developing the muscles in a child’s fingers and hands.
We can give children play dough to play with as soon as they stop wanting to eat it, which for most is between one year to 2.5 years old. Here’s a recipe for homemade play dough.
2½ cups flour
½ cup salt
1 (0.13 oz – dry pk) Koolaid
3 tsp oil
2 cups boiling water
2. When the mixture is cool and makes a lump in the bowl, scrape it out onto a flour covered counter and knead until smooth. Add additional flour if needed.
3. Store in a plastic container in the fridge.
Homemade play dough will let your kids show their creative side. Make several batches in different colors. It’s inexpensive, fun, and kids love it.