Tag Archives: cold

Snacks to Warm You!

There are certain winter days when you absolutely have to be warmed up from the inside out.  Warm snacks are perfect for an afternoon after sledding or as a part of a preschool winter theme.  Children learn that just as clothes keep us warm in winter, warm foods help us out this time of year as well.  Plus, sharing warm food you’ve prepared together provides many of the developmental gains mentioned in this post.  Here are a few fun snacks to warm you through during a cold winter theme!

Hot chocolate, of course!  If you haven’t used one of these Cocomotion machines, you really should check one out.  The kids love watching it spin around!  Keep in mind that it does get the cocoa pretty hot, so stop before it’s done, or add a little cold milk at the end to cool it down.  Use your favorite cocoa mix or try Carnation Instant Breakfast in the place of cocoa if you’re worried about nutrition.  (Still plenty of sugar, but at least there are some nutrients involved!)

Bring on the Wassail.  Wassail is a favorite drink at our house at Christmastime, or as a cold remedy (cold comforter may be a better term).  Here’s the recipe we use.  Just be sure to cool it down for the little ones.

Breakfast Cake.  Let’s be honest.  It’s cake.  Muffin-like at best, if that’s any improvement.  But my mom let us eat it on special mornings as part of breakfast.  That’s what made it so exciting and memorable. We have it now in my own home on birthday mornings or other special occasions.  For you healthy food people, I do realize it has its fair share of sugar.  I’m not suggesting you serve it everyday, but once and a while makes it a great, warm, special treat.  I like to serve it with hot chocolate as we talk about warm winter foods. (Recipe here.)

Soups.  Soup is a wonderful winter food, and many are easily prepared with children.  Try a stone soup activity like this one.  Or my sister-in-law Katie’s Taco Soup.  If you can open cans and stir, you’re qualified to make this soup.  It’s easy for kids to help with.  It’s healthy, tastes great, and if your little ones aren’t soup eaters, tell them it’s bean dip for their chips!

As a child, one of my favorite memories was watching my mom make homemade noodles for chicken noodle soup.  If you’re feeling just a bit adventurous (they’re really quite easy) try this recipe here, and use them in place of store-bought egg noodles in your favorite chicken noodle soup recipe or in the recipes here or here.  You can let your little ones help out as you roll out the noodle dough and cut it into strips with a pizza cutter.  Once they’re in the soup, no one’s going to look at them all lined up, so they really don’t have to be exactly uniform.  Just watch how much more likely your kiddos are to eat soup with “their” noodles.  

While sharing some warm food it’s a great time to talk about the winter adventures you’ve had, or those that you’re planning.  Also a perfect time to talk about how we stay warm on chilly winter days!

                      For more wintry activities, click here!     

Top photo by Dominic Morel.

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Snow Scene Collage

If you’ve already done a few snowstorm paintings, switch things up a bit and get three-dimensional!  Collect a sampling of random white items to glue onto a snow collage.  Have your children help if you can!  Here are some ideas:  cotton balls, batting, tissue paper, packing peanuts, styrofoam (break it into the tiny balls for realistic snow), white buttons, white tulle, plain old white paper (have the children rip it into pieces for more texture and increased small motor skills), paper with white prints (white on white-ish plaids, stripes, etc.), glitter, salt, white scraps of ribbon or fabric – you notice the theme here, right?  White stuff!  If it can be glued onto paper and it’s white, (and suitable for children of course) it’s perfect!

Prepare the paper as you did in the snowstorm paintings (using colored paper and perhaps a background scene) and then provide an assortment of “whiteness” to be glued on for snow!  (For collage gluing, try this method.)

This process enhances creativity as the children find new uses for “beautiful junk”, and create and express their concept of “snow” through visual media.  The collage aspect increases small motor skills and adds a sensory element with the texture, creating something both visually and tangibly interesting.  So clean out your craft drawers and get all your white “beautiful junk” out on the table!  It’s time for another snowstorm!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by stocker.

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Mitten Match

For those of you implementing a winter theme, consider creating a mitten match!  You could use actual gloves and mittens and have children pair them together, or create a type of memory game like the one I did here.

I made mine out of felt for quick and easy durability.  I gave each set different characteristics, but you can see, for my older children, I made it a bit challenging by making some pairs similar to other pairs.  I thought I had made each set as a matching pair (with one lefty and one righty), but it looks like a lack of sleep caught up with me and some are opposing and some are not.  I can see an argument for either.  If you make each hand you have an actual pair, but if you make them the same hand, you have an identical match.  I ‘ll let you decide for yourself, or just be like me and make them late at night and see how they look in the morning!  

You could easily create a set drawn on cardstock, or cut out of construction paper or scrapbook paper and mounted onto cardstock.  (You’ll probably want to laminate the cards if you make them out of paper.)  Make about 6 pairs for playing memory, though with younger children you may even want to start out with something as simple as 3 pairs.  Or for the most basic level, present three mittens and ask which two are the same and which one is different.

Matching games enhance visual perception– the ability to see and recognize differences.  This ability is what allows a person to recognize that a “b” is in fact different from a “q” or a square from a rectangle, helping with reading and math readiness.  It also helps with observation skills, critical to the scientific process and learning in general.  Playing this as a memory game, of course, strengthens memory skills, a key ingredient in cognition, while also teaching social skills as children take turns.  

Only a nerd like myself could make a fun game of memory sound so complicated!  At least now you’re armed and ready to explain to anyone else, just exactly why playing memory with children is not just cute!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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Bring in the Snow!

Next time you’re out shovelling the walk, shovel a bit into a bucket and bring it inside!  Fill your sensory table with snow and try one of these fun activities for exploring the enchanting powder with your little ones!

*Place cookie cutters in the sensory table for the children to press into packed snow.  Using geometric shapes gives you an opportunity to talk about these shapes during the activity and at group time as well, when you pull the cutters out again as you discuss the day’s activities.

*Set out small containers of colored water and droppers for the children to add color to the snow.  You could also use hairspray-type pump bottles with colored water.  These activities promote small motor strength and control, while also providing color-mixing experiences.

*Place colored salt in shakers and see what happens as the children shake the different colors into the snow! 

*Provide containers of various sizes and shapes for the children to pack the snow into and create snowy castles.

*Have the children explore the snow with and without gloves or mittens, and talk about how they keep us warm and why we need them.

*Bring out your magnifiers and look at the snow up close!  Take pictures and/or have the children draw pictures of it.  Spend the day exploring and talking about the snow!  Once the snow has melted, examine it with the magnifiers again, and take/draw pictures again.  Talk about the change and what the children have discovered in the process.  A fantastic science exploration activity that can include the entire process of scientific inquiry!

If you happen to live in one of the corners of the globe where the white stuff rarely makes an appearance, try Steve Spangler’s Insta-Snow for a similar experience, as Vanessa suggested!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Photo by Mattox.

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Book Activity: Snip, Snip, Snow!

 

Snip, Snip... Snow!

Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar tells the story of a relatable, spunky girl named Sophie, who can’t wait for the snow to fall!  Her excitement turns to disappointment as the storm is stalled.  In its place, Sophie and her friends begin cutting paper snowflakes, creating their own snowstorm.  Caught up in their own fun, the first real snowflake almost goes unnoticed.  The children run outside to enjoy the new snow!  This story is so well-written and the illustrations really draw you in.  The book also includes instructions for making paper snowflakes, just like Sophie did!

One way to simplify your snowflake making process is by using coffee filters instead of paper.  This way, you already have a circle, rather than having to cut circles as the instructions in the book recommend.  Perhaps more importantly, the filters are much thinner and easier for small hands to cut through.  Simply fold the filter in half a few times and start cutting.  Soon you’ll have your own paper snowstorm, just like Sophie!

Making snowflakes not only extends the literacy experience, creating more connections and increasing comprehension, but the activity builds small motor skills and creativity.  Tape the flakes to your windows, mount them on colorful paper, and/or hang them from the ceiling.  Whether you live in Alaska or Arizona, soon you’ll have your own indoor winter wonderland!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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Baby It’s Cold Outside!

The seasons are changing once again!  At least around these parts, the temperatures are dipping, the snow’s beginning to fly, and little children are once again fascinated to watch their own breath floating in front of them outside!  I’ve collected a list of some of my favorite winter-themed activities for you to use with your preschoolers- whether as part of a formal preschool curriculum, as play group activities, or as projects to do around the kitchen table!

Exploring the theme of winter provides many opportunities for variety of developmental objectives.  Aside from specific activities that each promote different developmental strengths, the topic of winter itself is, in general, a science topic.  Taking time to explore outdoors and to observe the characteristics of the changing seasons builds earth science knowledge as well as promoting questioning and discovery as part of that scientific process.  Sensory skills are certainly involved as they collect that information!  Winter is also a perfect time to explore the changing states of water into ice and snow and back again.  (And back to ice again.  And back to water again.  They could do that all day…)

Start out by just discussing some of the changes the children are noticing.  You may need to guide them by asking questions like: “How does it feel outside?”  “What do you see outside?”  “What kind of clothes do you wear outside?”  This discussion could be particularly meaningful after the children have just come in from outside time or just arrived at school.  Talk about their observations and make mental notes, or create a chart together, to record their ideas.  Their comments may give you new ideas for avenues to explore!  You may also want to revisit your Four Seasons chart to illustrate the changing seasons and connect to their existing ideas and experiences from their fall activities.

So here’s the list of activities!  I’ll link back to this post as I add more details for specific activities.  So bundle up and enjoy this new, cold season with your little ones!

Sensory Activities:

Rice in the Sensory Table — (Either Colored Rice, or just plain white for the “snowy effect”.  I add scoops, funnels, and cars and soon we have a snow storm on our hands!)

Ice Sculptures

Iced Shaving Cream

Bring in the Snow!

Creative Art Activities:

Crayons and Watercolors –  (Use white crayons on white paper and then paint with watercolors.  The children can do the coloring or you can leave “secret messages” or draw snowflakes for them to find as they paint.)

A Brainstorm of Snow Storm Paints

Snow Scene Collage

Snow Dough

Songs, Fingerplays, and Games:

These are the Four Seasons (Yes, again!  It’s a new season!)

Five Little Snowmen

Vivaldi’s Four Seasons – Creative Movement

Mr. Bear

Snow Clouds

Snowman Play and Freeze (From Snowmen at Night Book Activity, but you could continue to use the game independently)

Mitten Match

Snacktime:

Snowflake Tortillas

Snacks to Warm You Up

Fresh Snow Ice Cream!

Outside Activities

Book Activities:

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Whole Language “What do you like to do in the snow?”)

All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle (Snowman Craft)

Snowmen at Night  by Caralyn Buehner (Snowman Play and Freeze Game)

Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar (Filter Flakes)

Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin and Fumi Kosaka (Hat Craft – Patterning)

Author Study: Jan Brett

More Great Winter Books

*By the way, this time of year is also a perfect time to focus on the social skills of service and sharing.  Regardless of your center’s policy about celebrating holidays, you can have a Service Party  with or without the trappings of Christmas, and help your little ones help others!

Stay warm and stay tuned!

Top photo by ivanmarn.

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Who Doesn’t Love an Orange Smoothie?

blender

  

 

OK.  That is, of course, a rhetorical question.  Anyone who has ever worked with preschoolers knows that it is a rare thing to find a snack that  every child likes.  But it’s been hard to miss with this one!  I like to have the children help me make this frosty treat at snack time.   (Here’s how kids benefit from helping you out in the kitchen!)  

Ingredients:

1 (12 oz) can frozen orange juice concentrate

1 cup water

1 cup milk

1/3-1/2 cup sugar

12 ice cubes

1 tsp vanilla

(Berries or bananas taste great added in too, if you like!)

Add all the ingredients in a blender, and…well…blend!

(Now, whenever I make something with the children using a blender, I let them know that it’s going to be loud.  That way, those with noise sensitivities can cover their ears or get some distance if they choose to.)

This recipe makes about 6 eight ounce servings.  If you’re pouring it, and you notice it’s a little thick, you’ll want to either provide straws for everyone, or add some more milk.  Otherwise, you run a high risk of “avalanche face”.  You know, when it won’t come out, and then suddenly it all comes out at once.  You’ve been there.  Well, preschoolers are highly susceptible to this phenomenon, so take care!  And Enjoy! 

Blender photo by 4score.

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