We are approaching winter break which is an amazing opportunity to slow down and spend time with family. However, after the excitement of new toys and special activities has died down, some kids may start to get restless. Two weeks can be a long time without the structure and routine of the typical school week. The days can be really long as a parent, especially if your kids are like mine and wake up at the crack of dawn.
I thought it would be fun to give you some easy, no prep sensory and motor activity ideas that you can use when it’s too cold to go outside or you just can’t watch Moana for the 100th time. Most of them are either free using materials you already have around your house or are super cheap to prepare. Teachers, you may also enjoy some of these activities too once school is back in session!
Play with shaving cream
I love to have my students play with shaving cream! It is one of my favorite no prep activities to pull out when needed and the kids absolutely love it. This is the messiest of the activities listed, but the good thing is it will make your table clean and your house smell great! There are so many activities you can do with shaving cream depending your child’s age. Some children may just love to explore. You can try to have your child write his name, letters, draw pictures, or imitate lines and shapes. Does your child avoid tactile input? Try having him using a spoon or paintbrush! You could even do this in the bathtub on the shower wall for super easy clean up!
Be creative with package materials
Between the daily Amazon deliveries and gifts my kids will be given, my house is full of cardboard boxes, tissue paper and bubble wrap by the end of December! Try using some of these materials to engage in some creative play! Let them rip the tissue paper into small piece or pop the bubble wrap – these activities are great for hand strength. Put bubble wrap on floor and have them stomp on it to pop the bubbles- this really great for sensory seekers who need that little extra input. Use the boxes to create!! Draw on them, color or pretend they are houses for your child’s favorite toys or stuffed animals.
There are so many fun options for engaging kids in movement activities these days. If you can’t get outside, your kids will definitely need some opportunities to move! Go Noodle is a super popular website with so many fun movement activity options. You can sign up for a free parent account here. Warning- some of these songs are incredibly catchy (banana banana meatball anyone?!). Older children may enjoy the‘Just Dance’ videos on YouTube. Some are really fast and tricky but it is fun to try to follow the visual given. Shakira’s ‘Waka Waka’ song is a favorite with my high school students. My own kids love to stream Amazon music Kidz Bop and we just have a dance party.
Make toothpick and marshmallow creations
This is one of the simplest fine motor tasks and kids love it. All you need are toothpicks and mini marshmallows. The children connect the toothpicks and mini marshmallows together to make different creations. This is an awesome fine motor and coordination task and it challenges them to be creative! To be ‘winter themed’ you could call these creations ‘igloos!’.
Have an indoor snowball fight
Take a bunch of paper or newspaper and have your child crunch it up into little ‘snowballs’. This is an awesome activity for fine motor strength. Have your child fill up a bucket with ‘snowballs’ and then they can have a snowball fight! If you’d like to discourage your kids from throwing the ‘snowballs’ at each other, you could call it snowball catch.You could also put up a little target on the wall (could just be a piece of paper that you find in the office) to give them something to aim for, or have them shoot into a basketball hoop!
Make a sensory bag
This activity is another crowd pleaser! Get a heavy duty ziploc bag and fill it with blue hair gel. I found some at Target. Close the top and tape it up with some thick tape. You can add glitter or other fun items into the bag. Once it’s filled and closed, squish it together! You can then tape it to table and use it to practice tracing letters or just let the child explore the tactile sensation. While I love messy sensory play, this is a great option when you want your child to engage in a sensory activity but don’t want to clean up a huge mess! This is also a good option for kids who don’t like to get their hands messy.
When in doubt, keep it simple! Sometimes the simplest activities are the best. Have fun!