Winter Nature Hike

Nature hikes are always an adventure and doing them at different times of the year opens up all sorts of coversations.  It is amazing how quickly little ones pick up on changes from the last time you were out.  During our winter hike, I make it a point to talk about the lack of leaves, bird sounds, and bugs as well as any ice we come across.  Rarely do I have to start the conversatios but it is always nice to have some ideas if our toddler doesn’t start the flow of obserations.  I know that it is super cold in several parts of the country in the winter but honestly even if the hike is short it is totally worth battling the cold for the number of things toddlers can discover.

Indoor Snowball Fight

At our house, indoor snowball fights are a regular occurance.  We start by wading up paper to make “snowballs” (the paper we typicaly use is newspaper but that is simply because we have it in abundance and it is going to just get thrown out).  You can make enough for the whole fight, make a starter basket, or have everyone fend for themselves after a sneak starter attack.  The next part is just as simple – ATTACK!  Rolling behind furniture is encouraged as is using pillows as a block.  Snowball fights only last untl someone decides they are finished (usually when Mommy is tired of being beaned in the head).

Go to a Basketball Game

With peewee, middle school, high school, and college teams playing we could go to a game every night of the week if we chose to take the time.  We definitely don’t but an occasional game is fun.  At first, we didn’t think going to a basketball game with a toddler was smart.  After all, he can’t run around or play with the ball himself, but after our first attempt at a game we found that the high action of basketball games keeps his attention quite well.  Just because I can’t let a learning opportunity pass, during games we talk about the different colors on the uniforms as well as what is going on during the game (shots, steals, fouls – the basics).

*One advantage to going to games at a gym with bleachers is it keeps little one from running right out on the court (a problem we were concerned about as my brother is the coach of one of the teams we watch play).

Explore Ice

Ice is abundant in our part of Ohio during January but even if it weren’t we could still explore ice (it would come from the icebox instead of outside but I’ve yet to meet a toddler who cares where the ice comes from).  To explore ice, I put a few chunks in a bowl and bring it inside.  We always explore over the hardwood, tile, or in the tub, but this is to reduce the mess of melting which is bound to happen.  As our toddler explores the ice, we talk about the sounds we hear (cracking and clinking), how it feels (rough/smooth, cold), and what we see (the pieces getting smaller).  We also end up talking about the water a bit as well since inevitably our ice melts as we are exploring.  If you are in for something a bit messier, freeze colored ice cubes by adding a drop or two of food coloring to the water prior to freezing, and watch/talk about the color mixing that happens as the ice melts.

Walk the Mall

Cabin fever hits hard in January for both the young and not quite as young, so get out and go walking.  The weather and slick conditions outside keep us from walking and playing outside as much so instead we take our energy else where.  One such place is the local mall.  Mall walking is no longer just for my grandmother and her friends.  Our toddler and I walk the mall in several different ways.  Some days we simply walk together, other days one of us walks ahead and the other catches up, sometimes we take the stroller, other times we walk on our tiptoes or backwards or like monkey.  The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and willingness to look a little silly.  While walking the mall, we rarely visit any stores since we go just to get some exercise and different scenery but it isn’t something that is out of the question.  We have also found that it is best for us to walk in the morning (less crowd) and to choose one wing per trip (we don’t have a giant mall but there are three hallways).