If you are a parent in New York City, you're bracing for a long day indoors today. Since it's not good for a child's developing brain to spend the day in front of the TV, here are some fun activities that you can do with your preschooler.
Make Play Dough
Play dough is super simple to make gives your child tactile and visual stimulation. You can let them sculpt it into whatever their imagination creates, or add more structure by asking them to make certain shapes or even animals in different colors. You can also use cookie cutters to make basic shapes that they decorate.
The only ingredients you need for play dough are flour, salt, water, coloring, and cream of tartar or vegetable oil.
Here's a tutorial for a version that does not require cream of tartar:
If you prefer not to expose your children to commercial food coloring you can make some colors with natural dyes from things like frozen blueberries, beets, hibiscus tea, red juices, and turmeric. Read more here.
Hold a Dance-A-Thon
Getting your child moving is important for their brain development and especially if the weather makes it hard to venture outside, moving vigorously inside will help them use up excess energy. Crank up on your favorite, kid-friendly tunes and show your child how much fun it is to groove.
To make the dancing more engaging and challenging, ask your child to show you what moves he or she can do and suggest they touch their toes, jump really high (neighbors below permitting), do the splits, do star jumps, and show you how long they can stand on one leg (try both legs because sometimes one is much easier than the other).
You can also help them do headstands and handstands.
If the other parent will be home later, you can have your child prepare a small show to entertain them.
Build a Fort
Forts give children a feeling of privacy and are a secure place to let their creativity percolate. Attach a sheet to chair backs for the basic structure and line the inside with cushions, soft blankets and favorite toys. You may find they disappear inside for a while, leaving you with a much needed break.
Have Them Help Clean
Preschool age children love to be helpful and do what you do. Give your child a small bucket, a rag, and an area of the floor that's theirs to mop. Praise them for a job well done and point out if they missed any spots.
You can also have them search under couches and beds for any lost toys and use the whiskbroom to sweep up.
Finish up the cleaning by filling a spray bottle with an essential oil like lavender, and spraying it into the air to create a calming, pleasant atmosphere.
Make a Fun, Nourishing Meal Together
Let them help you choose which vegetables will go into the soup, dump your pro-chopped vegetables into the water, and scoop out and add the spices.
If you want something more creative, carve pieces of fruit like you would a jack-o'-lantern or make silly fruit and vegetable faces on a plate.
Avoid baking with white flour and refined sugar because this will make give them a sugar rush followed by a crash. If you have a sweet tooth to fulfill, bake some thinly-sliced apples, or sweet potatoes with a dash of cinnamon or some banana pieces brushed with lemon.
Remember to Relax and Enjoy
Having your child home all day has probably forced you to change your plans. If you find yourself feeling stressed thinking about all the things you are not able to get done, take a few deep breaths and remind yourself that their childhood is a fleeting, precious time. If you can relax and enjoy their company, the snow day can also be a day to create special memories.