It’s that time of year again! The temperature changes, the holidays pass, and the ground becomes filled with a powdery white. While you may be dreading the shoveling, defrosting, and traffic that follow, if you bundle up and brave the cold, you can help create valuable sensory experiences for your child!
The play experiences you create with your child can help their bodies learn to process sensory information more effectively and efficiently. From snowball fights to building snowmen, snow can create a chilly yet enriching environment for our brains to process, respond to, and use the sensory information it receives.
Here are 10 sensory activities for you and your child using the snow just outside your door:
- Snow Angels– Making snow angels is a great activity to target the tactile system, our sense of touch, as your child learns about texture and temperature while the snow moves under their arms and legs.
- Freeze Bubbles– When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, blow bubbles and quickly catch them on the wand. Watch the bubbles freeze, then shatter into crystals, and note the vivid colors.
- Build a Snowman– Pushing the snowballs across the ground as you roll them into bigger shapes provides our bodies with resistive input which targets our proprioceptive system. This input is generally organizing and calming, and can improve attention as well as arousal level and body awareness. Create even more fun by using candy for the snowman’s arms, buttons, and nose.
- Go Sledding and Tubing– The movement provided while in a sled or tube allows for changes in head position and our sense of where our bodies are in relation to gravity, which targets the vestibular system. The vestibular system helps coordinate eye and hand movements, use both sides of our bodies together, and affects balance and equilibrium. Have your child sled in different positions (on their back, on their belly, etc.) to provide further changes in head position.
- Snow Painting– Take a spray bottle filled with water tinted with food coloring out into the snow and spray it around. Allow your children to create pictures with it or make colored snowballs. You can place a few drops of food coloring directly in the snow to allow for smaller “paintings” too.
- Snowball Throwing Contest– Using colored water, spray a large circular target into the snow. Have your children stand back from the target and see how many snowballs they can get into the circle! This will help target their visual system as they learn to interpret distance.
- Snow Maze– Walk all over the yard in different directions, creating a bootprint maze for your children to follow.
- Scavenger Hunt– Hide a cooler full of fun items in the snow, and create a scavenger hunt with clues for your children. Have them follow the clues to various spots around the yard, eventually leading them to the cooler with surprises!
- Shoveling – Shoveling snow provides great resistive input to target the proprioceptive system, much like pushing the balls to make a snowman. This activity can be calming and focusing for your child, not to mention will help you tackle the daunting task! Make sure to use a child-sized shovel and provide your child with short distances (such as shoveling horizontally across a driveway rather than vertically).
- Hula Hoop Contest– Hula hooping can be hard as it is, not to mention with layers of winter clothing on! When you’re all bundled up, take some hula hoops out into the snow and see who can keep the hula hoop going the longest.