Snow Day Play

It’s not easy being snowed in with a toddler. And if  you’re like me, you would prefer to stay in your pajamas and consume a lot of coffee on a day like this.

With that in mind, I want to share some ideas we’ve tried  for indoor snow play, so kids can get creative and caregivers can stay warm.  With a tray (cookie sheet works fine), a towel, water-resistant toys and some sand or kitchen utensils the possibilities are endless.

1) Snow People:

Making faces is a daily occurrence in our house. We make faces with ALL sorts of things (see our Making Faces Post for more ideas!). My daughter was thrilled with the idea of making faces in the snow using her Mr. Potato Head Parts.

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Don’t have Mr. Potato head parts? Get creative and gather other things. We actually prefer to use small plastic toys to use as facial features! Think Lego, plastic play foods/utensils, small toys, marbles, etc. – the possibilities are endless!

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2) Snow Art:

Let me start by saying, there is no wrong way to create art with snow. I  would simply set out paint, brushes, paper and snow and let your child explore the materials as they see fit. It’s a great early STEAM activity.

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The snow can be used to wet the watercolors or watercolors can be used to paint the snow. Either way it’s about the process, not the product.

If you have ice on hand – icicles are great, but so are ice cubes – this is another fun way to explore liquids and solids. Add salt and liquid watercolors (or food coloring) and watch a colorful ice sculpture take form.

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Ice Painting
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Ice Painting

3) Sand Toys:

Sand toys are another great way to explore snow indoors (so are cooking utensils, if you’ve packed summer toys away). You can bake a cake, scoop and mix and build with snow, just as you would sand. Again, lay a towel down and fill a large container or tray and let kids explore. Add vehicles and plastic figures to extend this activity – the possibilities are endless!

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4) Snow Hunt:

You can bury anything in the snow and have your child dig for it! It amazes me how this activity entertains over and over again. Take advantage of their interest level by hiding items for any target concepts. Above is a hunt for the /d/ and /c/ sounds, but you can easily hide letters, numbers, shapes or even sight words!

Helpful hint: Gloves are still necessary when inside! And if you don’t like messes (though it’s just water) the bathtub is a safe place to take these activities.

For more ideas, check out our Indoor Snow Play Pinterest board!

And please share with us some ideas you may have!

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Wikki Stix!

Wikki

Today I want to share with you a new staple in our household – Wikki Stix. A few weeks ago, I took my daughter to ride the Sea Glass Carousel in Battery Park. If you’re local to New York City or visiting, I highly recommend the experience. On our way home, we stopped to eat at Blue Smoke. It was really the only restaurant near our ferry that had a reasonably priced lunch menu. Plus, I love BBQ. I was hesitant to go in at first as it looked a bit too fancy for my over-tired toddler. But from the start, the staff went above and beyond ‘kid friendly’. I didn’t order her a kid’s meal (I knew she’d just eat my sides), yet they brought out a raw sugar cookie shaped like a pig and container of sprinkles to decorate it with. How fun is that?

And it got better! Instead of the usual crayons, they gave us a package of Wikki Stix! I had totally forgotten about these gems from my nannying days and I enthusiastically demonstrated their abilities. Fast forward 45 minutes later, my daughter is still engrossed in Wikki play and I’ve eaten an amazing meal in peace! Bonus: upon receiving our check, we also got our decorated cookie back, baked.

Now that Wikki Stix have entered our lives, we can’t live without them! I keep a few in a baggie in my purse for long waits, restaurants, car rides – wherever! Together, we build the planets, numbers, letters, animals, anything and everything out of them. Today I took a trip to a Lakeshore store to buy some teaching tools and I was so excited to find these Wikki Stix number cards (pictured above). My daughter is fascinated by numbers, so I couldn’t resist buying. They can be purchased here.

Please enjoy some of our Wikki Creations, shared below! Oh and in case you were wondering, none of my posts are sponsored. We just like to spread love!

Wikkishapes wikkicatSaturn

“Every child is an artist…

photo (C) creative and curious 2015

… the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

The above quotation by Pablo Picasso is one that resonates pretty strongly. As adults, many of us struggle to find our creative side or avoid it completely. Maybe we’ve learned too many rules, hit one too many creative blocks or simply do not have the time to cultivate our creative thinking. But as parents and educators, it’s important to remember that our children mirror what we do. We see ourselves reflected in their play, in their phrases and daily interactions. They watch how we handle our successes and failures. We are their main example of how life is lived. It’s important we throw a little creativity in when we can!

What steps can we take towards supporting a child’s creativity? Author and artist Julia Cameron suggests, “we let them explore freely and praise them for their efforts.” This means more than giving them some crayons and paper, though that is a very good start. Allowing children the freedom to be creative can be a difficult balance for parents and teachers – it’s a struggle for me and I consider myself an artist.

On one hand, we want our children to follow rules and we want to provide them with structure. We know those things are also crucial to their learning. But when exploring their creativity, we want to give them the freedom to break some rules. I’m not talking the ‘keep your hands to yourself’ type of rules, more like ‘the sky is blue’ or ‘we color in the lines’ rules.

We often cannot help how we react to our children’s art – particularly when their work is more abstract (think mommy has three eyes or the sky is green and the grass is red!), our role and natural instinct is to teach them. And the reality is mommy only has two eyes and the grass is green! But keep in mind that art is often a rebellious act. It involves taking risks, thinking outside of the box and pushing boundaries. As parents, we have the unique opportunity to provide a safe environment in which our children can take creative risks with support and even praise.

In addition choosing our words carefully when we discuss their art, we can support their creativity by providing ample opportunity to think creatively. One easy way to do so is to put together a creativity box/corner/room, whatever you have the space for! Stock it with paints, toilet paper rolls, glue, markers, paper, crayons, plastic bottle caps, rocks, yarn… you get the idea, anything goes. Keep these things readily available throughout the day or even set aside time for them to work with these items through open ended play and art.

If you’re longing to bring out more of your creative side, join in the artistic fun. Create a project along side your child, selecting from the same materials.  Allow your child to explore the materials anyway they wish while you do the same! As you work, provide them with the vocabulary to describe their process, discussing their work without judgement and with praise. (“You’re using a lot of red paint. I like that!”) When you’ve finished, display both creations on the refrigerator! Valuing your own creativity will teach your child to value theirs. Watching you embrace your ‘mistakes’ and push boundaries, will set a valuable example for their inner artist. Encourage their inner creativity, as you rediscover your own.