Snow days and busy, busy bumblebees (aka toddlers and preschoolers)

The past few weeks we’ve had some wild weather here in Southwestern Ontario and for the first time in years, local school boards have cancelled school due to inclement weather conditions. The weather has been so bad that everything from government offices to your local coffee shop have been closed. I personally don’t remember there being this many snow days when I was a kid, but I’m glad that the boards did declare today a snow day because safety comes first.

It’s been nice having that extra day off with the kids. Getting an extra hour of sleep, watching some movies and staying in pj’s until noon is awesome. That’s all great and dandy, but if your kids are like mine, they get bored, easily.

I’ve learned with time that kids at the toddler and kindergarten age need structure. They thrive on it. They also want your attention and want to interact with you and their peers. Over time I’ve learned that simple activities can intrigue even the youngest of minds. I thought I’d share with you some of my kids’ favourite snow-day activities.

A little disclaimer: I’m not a parenting expert or an educator. I’m just a mom who is speaking from her own experience on what works with her kids. Keep in mind too that it’s never perfect and sometimes they don’t want to participate in the activity, but the point is to give them the opportunity and try.

1. Create in the kitchen: I started this with my oldest when he was about 3 years old as I noticed he was always following me in the kitchen. It’s usually something simple, like sprinkle cheese on a pizza or mixing pancake batter. Today they helped me prepare soup by placing all the ingredients in the pot. It’s a simple activity which is easy, a little messy and lots of fun.

2. Building: my kids love Mega Blocks, train tracks, Lego Duplo and Magformers. For instance, I’ll bring out a bin of Lego Duplo and place it on the coffee table and see what they do with it. Even if they just play for 5 or 10 minutes building things, then that’s great! This too gets messy but the idea is to present them with something and see if they roll with it! Today my boys made a farm with stables until my youngest started to chuck the Lego.

3. Worksheets, colouring books, Boogie Boards: yes! I’m old school and love worksheets. My oldest is in jk and is starting to learn how to write and enjoys the worksheets with traceable letters. You can find them at Costco in the books section or online via Pinterest. Colouring books are great too and inexpensive. Boogie Boards are also a great alternative to traditional paper and crayon because they are erasable and clean (say goodbye crayon marks!)

4. Reading: this one is pretty self-explanatory, but reading is so important for child development. Research has shown that reading to children early on promotes imagination, establishes concentration, and exposes children to literacy and language. For me, it’s a great time to bond with my kids. I was an avid reader growing up and it’s my hope that my kids enjoy reading too. Experts recommend that parents read to kindergarten age children for at least 20 minutes a day. What we’ve done is included it in their bedtime routine. My kids are really into Dr. Seuss at the moment so we went through “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” a few times today. The point is, pick up a book and read.

5. Flash cards: this one is pretty self-explanatory but flash cards are a great way to engage with kids and teach them how to count, how to recite their ABC’s and recognize colours and words. My boys also enjoy Brainquest, which is a quiz-type or flash card. Again, even if you get 5 or 10 minutes out of it, it’s great!

6. Last but not least- play in the snow! If it’s not too cold and it’s safe to play outside, take the opportunity to build a snowman or make some snow angels with your kids and create winter memories for years to come. Following that, hot chocolate is in order!

I hope these are things you will consider to do with your little ones for the next snow day.

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