Minnesotans are no strangers to being trapped inside on a snowy or brutally cold day. Even though we’ve handled it year after year, it’s common to get some cabin fever—especially if you are trying to provide enrichment for a young child.
Here are some ideas of how to use these cold winter days to provide a fun learning experience for your child:
1. Learn the five senses with snow. Minnesota gets plenty of snow, so it makes for a perfect teaching experience for your child to learn about the five senses. While you’re going over each sense with them, write down all the adjectives you came up with to create a poem or story about the day.
See | Take a look at the snow from different distances. What does your child see from looking out the window? What color is it? How much snow is outside? Then get up close to the snow—maybe look at an individual snowflake. What does your child see now?
Hear | Take a walk outside. Ask your child what they hear when you’re walking through the snow together.
Taste | Scoop up some fresh (clean) snow from outside, and make snow ice cream or just let your child taste the (clean) snow.
Touch | There are a few options for this. You could go outside and play in the snow or build a snowman (outdoor play is an important enrichment opportunity). But if it’s too cold outside, you could also bring some snow inside and let your child build a miniature snowman, measure the snow with measuring cups, or lay out the snow and let your child cut shapes into it with cookie cutters.
Smell | The smell of snow can be a little tricky to explain to a young child, but snow does have a unique smell. If your child isn’t quite grasping the smell concept of snow, you could always let them smell the snow ice cream.
2. Learn numbers with snow. Minnesotans love to talk about the weather, especially when it’s about how much snow you got during a winter storm. This is a perfect teaching experience for your child because measuring, comparing and observing snow can help with their general thinking and math skills.
If you already have snow on the ground, go outside with your child and pick a spot to measure how much there already is. Use a yardstick or a measuring tool that has numbers written clearly on it so it’s easy for your child to see and count how many inches there are. (It’s best to pick a spot that’s sheltered from strong winds to get an accurate reading).
Then, as it starts snowing, you can go outside and measure how much snow is in that same spot. Write it down, and you can work together to figure out how much snow has fallen. Repeat these steps throughout the snowstorm—or even all winter long.
If you want to check how accurate your measuring is, you can visit the National Weather Service’s website to see how your numbers compare to snow totals in your area. The website also provides information about snow totals and snow coverage statewide.
3. Practice science with snow
Winter is a perfect time provide science enrichment for your child -- all you need is some snow, clear jars or glasses, a ruler, and a notebook to do an indoor science experiment that works on prediction and observation.
Here’s what you need to do:
1. Measure the same amount of snow into four different clear glasses or jars. You can use the ruler to measure, or grab a measuring cup.
2. Then, put each jar/glass in a different location. Try a window, the refrigerator, outside, and somewhere dark. Set a timer for 5 minutes.
3. Talk with your child about what they think will happen with each jar, and rank the jars by which they think will melt first and which will melt last. Write down your child’s predictions.
4. When the timer goes off, write down your observations. Have any of the jars started melting? How tall is the snow in the jar now? What does the snow look like inside the jars? Write down your child’s observations for each jar.
5. Then set the timer for 5 or 10 minutes, whichever you prefer. When the timer goes off, have your child make their second observations about the snow in each jar.
6. Next will be your final observations after 30-plus minutes. Go around with your child and make your observations, and see if they’re similar to the predictions they made prior to the experiment. Talk with your child about why they think one jar melted faster than the other one, as well as discuss the conditions each jar was placed in. Was the sun shining through the window where you placed the jar, or was it cloudy and the window was cold, so it didn’t melt as fast as the jar in the dark room? Is the refrigerator colder than outside? That will explain why the refrigerator jar melted and the jar outside stayed the same.
These snow day activities are an example of interactive learning and parent participation similar to what we provide at The Learning Lodge. We take a unique approach to early care and education for children in Ramsey, Anoka, and Elk River, Minnesota.
To learn more about The Learning Lodge and how we can help your child learn and grow, give us a call at 763-427-2587, or you can message us on our contact page.