The Gift of Snow: A Sensory Wonderland by Caitlin

This is one of those rare occasions when all you palm-tree people get to envy those of us whose minivans are encrusted in ice, and whose morning routines are about to revolve around meltdowns over mitts and boots.

While the snow brings with it many, many challenges for our sensitive kids, it also provides unique sensory experiences that can be soothing, energizing, and refreshing. It’s important to show our kids that for every challenge SPD brings, it also brings opportunities. Here are 5 fun, simple, and sensory-friendly snow activities to enjoy this winter:

1. The heavy work of rolling those mammoth balls of snow for the snowmen. Be sure to have 2 crunchy carrots on hand - one for the nose, and one for your oral seeker.

2. That jarring impact of falling backwards - or jumping straight into - a big, soft pile of snow. There is no simpler, or more satisfying sensation for wee seekers.

3. For tactile and fine motor work, heavily tint a few inexpensive squirt bottles with food colouring, and let your kids make paintings in the snow. While you’re there, add some more squeezing-sensory work with this snowball maker (a great stocking stuffer).

4. Oral seekers can get the cold, sweet treat of home-made ice cream using snow from their own backyard (be sure to choose fresh, clean snow):

Into 1 gallon of fresh, clean snow add 1 cup of white sugar, 1 tbsp of pure vanilla extract (or more to taste). Then add just enough milk (or rice milk) to reach desired consistency. Serve immediately in bowls or cones.

5. No two snowflakes are alike, and to prove this to your kids, you can catch snowflakes and save them long enough for viewing, by using black or navy blue velvet (easily purchased at a fabric store, or use a piece of clothing if you have velvety skirts, shirts or dresses). On a day when the big, fluffy flakes are falling, head out with your velvet and allow the snowflakes to land on the fabric. The flakes will rest happily on the velvet, and won’t melt while your kids search in vain for twins. I think there is a poetic analogy offered to us, in the one-of-a-kind beauty of each unique snowflake. Use that analogy to open up a discussion with your kids about what makes them uniquely beautiful.

If your kids are particularly bothered by getting dressed up for the outdoors, find ways to make activities more enjoyable. If mitts are irritating their hands, make the snowman in 3 days (one ball per day) instead of one. Let your child jump and fall into the snow 6 times without wearing any snow pants or hat, and change into warm, dry clothing when you come in. Choose a warm-ish day with no wind for the water bottle spraying – so your kids can enjoy squeezing the triggers mitt-less.

And remember that like most things in life, weather conditions are relative. Up here in Winterpeg, Canada, it’s not unheard of to see teenagers walking around in shorts in -5 degrees C (I think that’s 23 degrees to you Farenheit folks). For younger children, many of us don’t bother with the head-top-toe bundling up for short periods of time.

That’s just our normal.

Don’t make decisions about what your kids are going to wear based on a fear that you’ll look like a bad mom. Decide if allowing your child to be cold (not frostbitten, but a little chilly) is worth the beauty of a day without meltdowns. I know it defnitely is for my family!



John and Allie Fields said...

I hate snow so I'll remember this and try to see it as a positive thing! Of course it rarely snows here but when it does happen I'll remember the tips you offered.

Jenn said...

I have three kids, two with FASD/ADHD and one with just ADHD ( I also view snow as a blessing! As a fellow Canuck (I'm in Muskoka), I totally agree with the natural consequences of kids getting cold to teach them that they need to wear their hats and mitts! It's far more effective than a nagging Enjoy!

Patty O. said...

These are great! Every year my son waits for it to snow with great anticipation. Then, when it finally does, he only plays in it for a few minutes. But, I'm thinking if I try some of your ideas (I think my kids would especially like the snow painting with squirt bottles!) they play a bit more. Thanks for the great ideas. When it finally snows, I'll let you know how the activities go with the kids.

Allie said...

HI, new to this whole blogging world, but the past few days, it has kept me sane. I would love to contribute to your SPD blog group. Please let me know how I can do that. I have a two and half year old with SPD. On another note, we live in Hawaii now, and have NO snow, but plenty of other opportunities for hard work with the water!

Living with Three Boys of Our Own said...

We live in Texas, so snow is rare! But I did use InstaSnow to make a sensory bin recently and my boys loved it! It's a great sensory integration tool... although it would be REALLY expensive to cook up enough to enjoy the heavy work aspects!