For many kids, getting to experience a snow day is the ultimate gift because they get to stay home from school and play in the wintery weather. But that isn’t the case for all children, such as those with disabilities or special needs, snow days might present some challenges.
Oftentimes, a snow day means breaking some everyday routines, which can be an overwhelming experience for some children, such as those with autism. If your child does better when their schedule stays the same, then you will want to be sure to keep their routine as consistent as possible. If wake-up time is always at 6:30 and lunch is always at 11:30 at school, you should try to maintain those same time points despite the snow day. Even using something as simple as a timer can help you stay on track and can ease anxieties. It might be a good idea to warn your child ahead of time that a snow day might be possible if bad weather is on the horizon. This can help them not be so thrown off when they wake up the next morning na maybe ease them into this unexpected day.
Additionally, many of the traditional snow day activities can make those with physical disabilities feel left out, as it can be harder for them to fully participate. If your child uses a wheelchair, consider adding snow tires when snow is in the forecast so they can still feel safe and comfortable if they want to get outside and explore.
Whether you’re heading out into the cold, or staying warm indoors, there are plenty of wintery activities that anyone can participate in and enjoy.
Obviously going outside is a great way to spend a winter day, I mean who doesn’t want to enjoy the snow with their kids! Not only will this provide exercise for your kids, but they also get a chance to spend time with others and soak up some much-needed vitamin D. Here are some accessible outdoor winter activities:
- Make snowballs: Engaging in a snowball fight can become too physical, competitive, and aggressive for some children. Instead, make snowballs to throw at various objects outdoors, such as trees, rocks, or walls. You might even get creative and make your own targets out of cans, bottles, paper targets, or anything else you want to throw snow at. This gives your child the opportunity to still get all wintery, fun sensory experience without the potential stress of a play fight. Plus, this can be an easy activity to do without having to move in the snow too much, should there be any physical challenges that make it difficult.
- Paint the snow: A fun and creative alternative to playing in the snow is to paint it. This is easy and most families already have the supplies in their kitchen. Just fill some squirt bottles with water and food coloring (make sure you use a lot), then turn the snow into your personal canvas.
- Go sledding: Sledding can be a great activity for kids because it gets them moving and interacting with others, especially if you go to a local popular sledding spots. If your child has a physical disability, then you might try using a sled with a rope attached so you can pull them through the snow. If you plan ahead then you might think about investing in in a sled that is designed for those with special needs. If you don’t want to travel far far from home then you can try creating your own “hills” by piling up snow in your yard. This will allow you to make them as big or small based on ability levels. No matter what, it’s very important that your child wears a helmet while sledding to avoid injuring his or her head. Finally, be sure to always watch your children during this activity. If you have younger children then you might sit in the sled with them. You also want to make sure to advise them on clearing the sledding area once their sled comes to a stop to avoid collisions with others.
- Not everyone wants to enjoy the snow outside, especially because you don’t need to spend hours outside in order to make the most of a winter day. Kids may prefer to stay indoors especially ones with disabilities who have physical or sensory obstacles (such as aversion to coldness or too many clothing layers). If your child doesn’t want to go out into the snow, or if you don’t feel like dealing with snow-soaked socks and layers, there are still plenty of cozy, inclusive activities kids can do indoors.
- Build an Indoor Snowman: Channel your inner Anna and Elsa and build a snowman, but do it indoors and without snow. By combining a simple 2:1 combination of corn starch and shaving cream you can create a magical mixture of shapeable, snow-like material. This will allow your child to mold the mix into balls to create a snowman, then outfit him however they see fit. This activity gives your child a sensory experience using their hands without the hassle of going outside and getting cold and wet.
- Make a Snow fort: A favorite memory we all have is building a blanket and pillow fort and now you can share that with your children. Help your kids construct their own fort using pillows, blankets, and other items around the house. Once they’re inside, you can drop cotton balls or mini marshmallows outside the fort’s “windows” to make it feel like it’s snowing. Maybe even make some hot cocoa to enjoy inside the fort to up the coziness factor even more!
- Bake snowflakes: You don’t have to go outside to catch snowflakes in your mouth, you can bake them in right in your kitchen. Just warm up some flour tortillas in the microwave, fold them into fourths, and then cut out patterns to make snowflakes the same way you would with paper. To make your snowflakes even tastier, brush them lightly with melted butter, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, and bake them for a few minutes until they crisp up. You can even add blue sprinkles to resemble icy snow if you have them. Or mix it up and make a fun quesadilla or deli wrap with the snowflakes.
No matter what your wintery day looks like, every kid (and parent) should get to enjoy the day. We have so many snow days in New England and you should be allowed to your days inside and outside of the home. Happy snow days!
At Precious Memories Preschool of Sandy Hollow PreSchool of Sandy Hollow, we offer a special place for children to not only grow and develop along the way, but a place for them to CELEBRATE each and every step. If you are interested in enrolling your child in our program please fill out the form on this page or call us at 860.572.9958