Winter Play - Supporting Your Child's Development

During the colder months of the year, we often find ourselves indoors more and bundled up inside. It can sometimes seem harder to think of ways we can build our child’s skills while staying warm and toasty! Here are some fun ways to work on language skills with your kids during the winter months.

Vocabulary

During winter, we can start to introduce or build the child’s understanding of common vocabulary used in the season. This includes talking about the weather and descriptors used (e.g. “rain”, “thunder”, “clouds”, “cold”). We can teach this vocabulary either indoors or outdoors, by looking out the window of the house or car, or by going on a walk with the child and discussing what we see.

Concepts

There are many different ways we can work on concepts, such as big/little, up/down, numbers and shapes.

One fun way to target many different concepts is to go on an outdoor walk with your child, and talk about the different things you see on your walk. For example, you may….

  • Compare big and little puddles (e.g. “let’s jump in a BIG puddle”, “let’s find a small puddle”)
  • Throw leaves up and down (e.g. “let’s throw the leaves UP in the air”)
  • Compare the shapes of different leaves and sticks (“here’s one leaf, hears two leaves- what colour are they?”)

Social Skills

When we are indoors, there are many ways we can work on social skills with our child, such as turn-taking. For example, playing board games is a great opportunity to reinforce turn-taking and remind the child throughout the game that when we play games with other people, we need to take turns to make sure the game is fair and everyone has fun!

Another simple way we can teach turn-taking is in daily routines such as cooking. We can involve children in basic turn-taking activities when making food, e.g. “you put one in the bowl, I put one in the bowl”. When we involve children in cooking, we can also involve other concepts such as big/little, hard/soft, heavy/light to extend the child’s vocabulary, and when children are involved in cooking, they may become more interested in the food they are eating.

Following Instructions

Following instructions is an important skill, and is used in multiple different settings such as at home, at school/kindergarten, and socially. To assist a child with their ability to follow instructions, you can create an indoor obstacle course, using household objects such as pillows, chairs, couches etc. Start with simple instructions, and then build up to more complex instructions that the child can follow successfully.

For example, you might say “jump to the pillow, then jump to the couch”. If the child can complete 2 step instructions like this, you can start building up the instructions, adding more steps in, or adding more descriptive words to make the instructions more complex (known as key words). This may include having pillows of different colours and asking the child to “jump to the pink pillow, then jump to the couch”, “hop to the television, then jump onto the blue blanket” etc.

Literacy

There are many different winter themed books available, which help teach concepts to children, and extend the child’s vocabulary. These books are fun and engaging, and are a great way to spend time together with your child.

There are lots of different ways you can involve language skills in daily activities during the winter months, while staying warm. Give one of these ideas a go!

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