The short days and cold weather usually mean that kids aren’t spending as much time outside. We’re hoping to change that! Kids need time outside in the winter, just as much as they do in the summer. Time spent outdoors during the winter helps their immune system, gets their blood flowing and helps them get essential nutrients. But sometimes finding things to do in the cold winter months can be tough! We’re always looking for fun new things to do to keep us active, outdoors and having fun!
1. Snow shoveling
Toddlers love to help out and they love to imitate. So, if you are planning to make a wintertime toy purchase for your little one, I strongly suggest a kid-sized snow shovel! And, if you happen to live somewhere where you get a lot of snow, there’s no harm in teaching them early!
2. Go for a sled ride
Whether it’s just for fun or for practical purposes, having a good quality pull sled is very handy with young children. You can pull them around the block, they can slide around in the backyard, or they can pull their own dollies for a ride! Make it even more fun and find some hills to play on. Remember, toddlers don’t need anything too big or scary and if you are going to go down some big hills with them, be safe and have them wear a helmet.
3. Build a snowman
Really, this one shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, right? But, don’t stop at snowmen. Encourage your toddler’s creativity and maybe they’ll want to build a family of dinosaurs, a castle, a baby turtle, or a sculpture of their own family! Make it even more exciting by letting your toddler choose some clothing and natural treasures to decorate their own snow creations.
4. Paint the snow
This one takes a tiny bit of preparation, but it’s still pretty quick and easy. The main idea is to fill a watering can, spray bottle, or even a pop bottle (with a hole poked into the lid) with colored water.
Tip: The slower the water empties from the container, the longer the activity will last!
5. Paint with snow
This one works really well if you have a brick house or a wooden fence. You can even do it on big tree trunks too. Basically, with handfuls of snow, show your toddler how to make designs. The texture of the brick, wood, or bark will grip the snow. If the snow is wet enough, you can even throw snowballs at the wall and fence to make a picture out of thrown snowballs. For older kids you could make a bullseye or target game for them to throw the snowballs at.
6. Build a fort
If you grew up in snow I’m sure you’ve built a fort or two. Remember, toddlers aren’t very big, so this doesn’t have to be an over-involved process. Just a small snow wall will be very exciting to hide behind and climb over for them. I’m pretty sure all the forts I ever made were done with my hands and feet. I also have fond memories of my dad digging one out of a snow drift for me once.
7. Build a maze
This one will need a little more adult time. In a large area of fresh snow use a shovel (or your feet) to cut paths in the yard. Make a maze for your toddler to find their way through. Then, show them how to make their own maze to challenge you.
8. Be a winter wildlife detective
Head to a natural area and see how the animals are managing in the snow. Make a little winter-time scavenger hunt before you head out, or just pretend to be nature detectives and look, listen, and feel with curiosity. What are the animals doing and saying? Have they left any evidence in the snow? Whose tracks are whose?
9. Haul out the toys
Sandbox toys are just as fun in the snow! Fill the dump truck and use the sand shovels to build a snow city complete with roads, tunnels, apartment buildings, and even snow bridges! Or, instead of sand toys, try some kitchen tools like cookie cutters, scoops, and rolling pins.
10. Freeze stuff
This is a two part activity that needs a little preparation on your part. First, one day, you’ll fill a container with natural treasures (leaves, berries, pine cones) and add a few inches of water. Then, leave this outside to freeze overnight. On the second day, go see what happened, take the frozen disks out of the contains and hang them in the trees as decorations.
Here's what's happening for February, we have a Super Bowl Fundraiser happening. We're doing Super Bowl Squares, each box are being sold for $5 each. A portion of the money will be donated to Caring Contact, they're a crisis hotline for people who struggle with mental illness.
Caring Contact is a resource for people going through difficult times and looking for someone to care. Whether the callers are dealing with depression, anxiety, other sources of stress or suicidal thoughts, their volunteers are trained to provide a non-judgmental and supportive ear. They will listen with heart, responding to more than 13,000 calls each year. To meet the needs of their callers and to support the community’s need for mental health support, we provide mental health and suicide education opportunities to first responders, community and youth groups, members of the clergy, businesses, educators and parents.
On a lighter note, we hope you enjoy your weekend, and the Super Bowl. May the best team win.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major effect on our lives. Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.
Get Up and Move
Physical activity does more than improve your physical health. It releases endorphins that boost your mood and reduce stress. Don’t let gym closures stop your workouts. There are plenty of fitness apps and websites to help you develop an at-home exercise regimen, and many strength-training exercises can be done without gym equipment. If the whole COVID-19 situation has diminished your motivation to work out, that’s okay. Start with simple activities like stretching at home or walking around your neighborhood.
Reduce Stress and Anxiety
There are many unknowns right now- how long we will be social distancing, work disruptions, financial uncertainty, etc. Steps to reduce stress and anxiety can help us feel more grounded despite these unknowns. Limit exposure to media about the pandemic. Find a balance between being informed and watching 24 hours a day. Follow reliable sources, like the CDC. Use focused meditation and relaxation. Turn off digital devices and media coverage and enjoy at least 10 minutes of thoughtful meditation. (Utilize an app as suggested above to help guide your meditation if desired). Set and keep a schedule, go to bed and wake up at regular times, and keep your work or school routine as close to normal as possible.Remember the activities you normally love doing that can be continued.
Boost Your Immunity With Food
A strong immune system offers protection from seasonal illnesses and other health conditions. While nothing can replace washing your hands with soap and water, certain foods do have immune-boosting properties. Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruit, tangerines), strawberries and red bell peppers are filled with vitamin C, which stimulates the formation of antibodies to protect you from infection. Vitamin A can stave off infection, and it’s found in sweet potatoes, spinach, carrots and foods labeled “vitamin A-fortified,” like milk or cereal. Protein is another key factor in a healthy immune system. Healthy sources of protein include lean meats, poultry, eggs and seafood.
Take a Deep Breath
One deep breath can make a huge difference when you’re feeling stressed or anxious. Deep breathing exercises lower blood pressure and ease the mind while strengthening your lungs. Try this: Sit in a comfortable position with your shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes if that helps you relax. Breathe in slowly through your nose, expanding your belly. Exhale slowly for a count of five. Pause for two seconds, then inhale again. Repeat as many times as needed.
Ask For Help When Needed
Changes in our lifestyles like working from home, children doing school from home, and not being able to physically visit with friends or family can be challenging. If you become overwhelmed and feel like your thoughts or actions have become debilitating, please know that it is ok to ask for help. That help can be as simple as asking a friend or neighbor to pick something up for you at the store next time they go, or reaching out for assistance with mental health support.
At a time when we all need to keep our physical distance, it’s important to remember that we can (and should) stay emotionally connected. Call or video chat with your relatives, especially those who live alone. Set up a virtual game night with your friends. Learn about ways you can help your community. We’re all in this together, which means none of us are truly alone.
Posts written by the Team ELM family!