The first day of winter began on December 22nd and we now embark on the 3 long months until we begin to feel the warmth and sunshine of spring. Many of the children and families I see are begining to feel the effects of the hustle and bustle of the holidays and are looking for ways for their children with sensory needs to partake of the magicalness of the wintertime while being respectful of how overwhelming it can be for their children. So with that in mind I wanted to share a few ideas with you all for fun ways to create a winter wonderland for your child that will peak their interests, engage their senses and allow them to enjoy this time.
1. The Holiday Lights Refuge
Going out to see the holiday lights at a festival, around the town or at the zoo can be fun, however is often times overwhelming because of all the people and the need to be all bundeled up because of the weather. Well not to worry you can still enjoy the lights in the comfort of your own home by creating this fun little space for your child to explore.
This space made from a large cardboard box and a strand of Christmas lights is a nice way to enjoy the lights in a small space that limits the amount of sensory stimulation. This is fairly easy to make and your child can help you decortae the inside to thier taste. First go out a find a large box that you think will be a big enough for your child to go into. Then tape the flaps of the box together so that they stay open making it a little longer of a space. Next take a screw driver and poke holes in the top side of the box so that you can begin to feed the bulbs of the lights through. Finally place a comfy blanket or some pliiows inside the box so that your child can sit down and relax while checking out the lights. Try multi-color or LED lights that change color for some variety and additonal sensory stimulation if your child tolerates it.
2. Make A Homeade Snow Sensory Bin
Often times it is the case that a child is more likely to try new sensory experiences when they have some control over the experience. A couple of ways to introduce this experience to children who may be sensitive to it. Take a large plastic storage bin and go outside and gather some snow for your child to play with inside. No snow? No problem. make some of your own. Take Baking Soda and pour it into a large bowl and then take a can of shaving cream and spray that into the bowl and stir it together to get it to the consistency that your child will enjoy touching.
3. Melt some Balloon Ice Globes
Ice globes made out of balloons can be a fun way to play with ice and keep a child occupied and focused for a little while. The following are some easy ways to make and play with these interesting materials. First take some balloons and blow them up a bit to stretch them out. Next insert some small plastic toys such as animals, dinosaurs or just some food coloring in the balloon. Then fill the balloon with water to get it to the size of large egg or snowball. Tie a knot and place it in the freezer. Once it is frozen remove from freezer and cut off the knot and peel away the balloon.
Place them in a bin and allow your child to pour warm water in the globes to melt them and take out the prize. Get creative use a turkey baster or a measuring cup to pour water on them, place them in a bath tub or sink with warm water and watch them melt. You can also try making different color ones by adding food coloring before you add the water into the baloon.
Most importantly take a moment to enjoy this time with your child. Look for ways to teach your child to trust their environment by simplifying experiences and reducing the stimulation that can be so overwhelming to them. Do you have some fun sensory tips for enjoying the winter? Share them with us in the comments below!