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5 Winter OT Activities for Kids

November 22, 2021 posted by Amirra Condelee

The temperature is dropping, the days are getting shorter, the décor is changing, and the school breaks are starting. It’s official! Winter is right around the corner. Whether you’re preparing to shovel snow in a colder climate or still soaking up the sun in a warmer climate, here are some OT-approved winter activities that combine play and occupational therapy techniques for your family to bring in the winter season!

 

     child on foam climbing blocks

 

1. Create an Indoor Snowball Fight

Ready for all the fun of a snowball fight without the hassle of actually being outside in the cold?

 

You’ll need the following items:

  • white paper
  • tape
  • pillows
  • empty cardboard boxes
  • laundry basket

 

First, work with your child to create snowballs using paper. Help your child crumple paper into a ball and secure it with tape (if needed). Use different sizes of paper to create different sized snowballs.

 

Next, using objects such as cardboard boxes, pillows, and laundry baskets, create “hiding” places around the house. When you’re ready, encourage your child to go to a hiding spot and then start your snowball fight using the snowballs you created!

 

This activity works on upper body and hand strengthening, motor planning, gross motor development, and balance.

 

2. Enjoy Winter-themed Sensory Fun

Sensory play refers to activities that appeal to one or more of the senses. It is a fun way to work on multiple skills at once while keeping your child engaged and interacting with you, others, or their environment.

 

You’ll need the following items for a sensory bottle:

  • super glue
  • empty water bottle
  • blue food coloring
  • water
  • glitter glue
  • sequins
  • glitter

 

You’ll need the following items for a sensory bin:

  • reusable container
  • dried rice/beans/pasta noodles
  • small winter themed objects to “hide” in the mixture 

 

To create a winter themed sensory bottle, fill the empty water bottle with ¾ warm water and add in 3-4 dots of blue food coloring. Have your child help you add the sequins, glitter, glitter glue and any other small objects you’d like to have. Super glue the water bottle cap back on (parents, you can take the lead on this part!). When the glue has fully dried, shake the bottle to watch the objects create a small winter wonderland.

 

To create a winter themed sensory bin, fill a reusable container with any ingredient combination of your choice (dried rice, beans, pasta noodles, water beads, cotton balls, etc.). Add small winter themed objects, such as mini erasers or other small trinkets, and encourage your child to dig through the mixture to find them. You can also hide winter themed puzzles or shapes in the mixture.

 

For added fun or for older kids, use a timer and to have them try and find the objects before the time runs out. Or, create a second bowl to race a sibling or neighbor to find everything.

 

These activities work on fine motor development, hand strength, hand eye coordination, visual motor skills, visual perceptual skills, communication and language development.

 

3. Have SNOW Much Fun with Cotton Balls

Cotton balls make for endless fun with winter themed arts & crafts.

 

You’ll need the following items:

  • cotton balls
  • paper
  • glue
  • markers
  • scissors
  • popsicle sticks
  • tape

 

Encourage your child’s free expression and creativity by drawing a winter scene including trees, a snowman, clouds, fence, animals, a house, etc. Get creative with mixed materials and use the cotton balls to make snow or a snowman in the scene. Use the cotton balls whole, or have your child pull the cotton ball apart into smaller pieces.

 

This activity works on fine motor development, development of pincer grasp, hand strength, hand eye coordination, communication and language development.

 

4. Play Build-The-Snowman Obstacle Course

A classic obstacle course – but make it winter themed!

 

You’ll need the following items:

  • paper
  • markers
  • paper plate
  • scarf
  • hat
  • couch cushions or pillows
  • laundry basket
  • diaper box

 

This activity involves first creating the “pieces” to a snowman: body, eyes, buttons, nose. You can use paper plates as the “body” pieces and make the other components using paper and markers.

 

Once you have everything created, it’s time to set up the obstacle course. Designate a starting point and an ending point for your course. Place all of the pieces of your snowman (including the scarf and hat) at the ending point. For the obstacles in between, get creative based on what you have at home! You can have your child crawl, jump, or hop over couch cushions or pillows, push a heavy diaper box or laundry basket from point A to point B, or anything else you can think of.

 

You can also get creative on how you run your obstacle course. You can either have your child run through it once and assemble the pieces of the snowman when they reach the end. Or, you can have your child retrieve pieces one by one as they go back and forth through the obstacles and complete the puzzle once they have retrieved each piece. This is also a fun activity to complete in teams!

 

This activity works on upper and lower body strengthening, motor planning, gross and fine motor development, and balance.

 

5. Keep Warm in a Cozy Living Room Fort

There’s only one thing to do when the weather outside is frightful: bundle up and stay cozy in a living room fort!

 

You’ll need the following items:

  • couch cushions or pillows
  • blankets
  • flashlight
  • glow in the dark toys
  • books
  • chair/footrest/ottoman

 

Help your child create a living room fort by arranging the blankets on top of furniture and placing cushions, pillows and blankets inside of the fort. While inside the fort, read books, make shadow puppets with the flashlight, or play with glow in the dark toys.

 

This activity works on physical development, upper body strengthening, motor planning, social interaction, communication and language development.

 

     child with toys in wagon

 

Occupational therapy is all about putting the fun in function! These OT approved activities have been designed to help your child play, learn, and grow in all areas of child development. So, when the weather gets too chilly, you can count on these activities to bring all the winter fun indoors. Wishing you a happy, healthy, and joyful winter season!

 

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