Family Fun! Indoor and Outdoor Inclusive Winter Activities

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Indoor activities, adapted winter sports and enjoying community activities are just a few ways your family can have fun this winter.

Here are our favourite inclusive tips for getting through this long winter.

Indoor fun:

Bring the outside in: Sensory Play
Winter can be an excellent chance for sensory activities. Snow and ice can help children explore the world around them using all of their senses. Playing in the snow or with ice is a great sensory activity that can promote exploration and discovery, as well as incorporating various learning opportunities.

  • 5 senses: watching snow fall, feeling of snow/ice, taste of snow ice, sounds that it makes
  • Textures: Is the snow/ice fluffy or hard?
  • Language Skills: learn words such as melt, squish, crunch, damp, cold
  • Concepts: melting or freezing ice and water
  • Creative Problem Solving: how to build structures, how much to fill a bucket
  • Emotional: sensory bins with snow can be a great calming activity if your child is stuck inside with energy to burn!
  • Fine Motor Skills: strengthening coordination of hands and fingers, and how they work together with their eyes (think of how much coordination it takes to use a spray bottle!)

Fun Activities:

Using a large storage bin or the bathtub, bring the snow indoors. You can also use food colouring to make it even more interesting; try filling spray bottles with colour and water, or using a paint brush to paint the snow. Bury different toys in the snow and have your child do a scavenger hunt.

If snow is too cold for your little one, try this instant snow recipe:
-    Pour 1.5 cups of baking soda into a baking tray
-    Pour ¼ cup shampoo into the same tray
-    Use your hands to mix together for fluffy snow
-    Build a tiny snowman or an artic habitat!

Visit our Sensory Board on Pinterest for more indoor winter sensory fun.

Fill balloons or different sized containers with coloured water and freeze them (either outside or in your freezer). Once they’re frozen, pull off the balloon or container to create a big beautiful marble that kids can play with in a bin, sink, bathtub or great a city with different sized structures!

Check out this great YouTube video for instructions.

Indoor Activities:

Being cooped up inside still has plenty of opportunities to practise gross and fine motor skills, weight bearing, sensory play and problem solving.

Build a cool fort
Let their imaginations run wild and use pillows, cushions and blankets around a couch or table to create a perfect hideaway for their afternoon snack or quiet time. Creating tunnels that your child can crawl through can help them practice weight-bearing exercises and gross motor activity. Check out these great fort ideas!

Homemade building blocks:
Take old cereal boxes, shoe boxes, or any other empty box and wrap them with construction paper. Help your child draw windows or doors on the boxes (or whatever their imagination comes up with) and use them to build a mini city!

Arts and crafts
Cold, snowy days are the perfect inspiration to encourage your child’s artistic side.

Bring the snow inside by making paper snowflakes and hanging them from windows or ceilings for a winter wonderland. Snowflakes can be personalized and your child can tell you how big or small to they would like them, or if capable, cut the wholes the appropriate size.

Make Play-Doh snowmen. Tip: add some glitter to the Play-Doh for that snowy sparkle and extra sensory stimuli!

Get Outside:

Look for winter activities in your community

Check your local municipality activity guide for adapted programs and winter activities. Some municipalities offer Winter Carnivals that offer fun winter sports like Sledge Hockey or Tubing on a small, try-it scale. Many municipalities can provide additional support to general programs (upon request) and also offer a great variety of regular adapted programming, such as cooking, swimming, art classes. Here are the links to the municipal recreation guides.

Don’t forget to check out your local library for programming such as STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) or LEGO programs for all ages, reading with pet buddy groups, movie days and PA Day programming.

Adapted skiing
Many ski hills offer an adapted skiing program through the Canadian Association for Disabled Skiing (CADS). Participants can be seated in a sit-ski and guided by one or two instructors/support skiers. Skiing is a great way to build core strength while providing a sense of accomplishment and self confidence in sport. Local ski clubs that have CADS or adaptive ski programs are Blue Mountain, Snow Valley in Barrie and Horseshoe Resort in Craighurst. Inquire at your local ski hill if they have adaptive ski programs.

Skating, sledges and even sledge hockey
Skating is one of Canadian’s favourite pastimes during the winter months, and can be adapted for those who need support.

Sledges are a sled that is outfitted with blades. Kids sit on the sledge and can push themselves with sticks.

Many local community arenas allow for stands, chairs or walkers to be used on the ice for those who need extra support. Though metal frames can be pushed easily around the ice, they can be slippery, so make sure there are some rubber grips on the bottom.

Some municipalities offer Adaptive Sensory Skate opportunities with low lighting and music, lower participant numbers, and adaptive equipment available for use.

Contact your local municipality about accessibility of local arenas and ice times. VOLT Hockey is another great opportunity to be involved in Canada’s favourite pastimes. Created by Variety Village, VOLT takes place in a gym and is for power wheelchair users.

For those who can skate, many Minor Hockey leagues offer a Special Needs Division, and there is also Newmarket Nighthawks standing skaters.

Keep an eye on our Events Calendar for CTN partnership programs throughout the winter in your local area in Sledge Hockey, Wheelchair Basketball, VOLT Hockey, Adapted Skating and more!
We hope you enjoy some family winter fun!

This post was written by Kelly Lapham, Recreation Therapist, CTN and York Support Services Network.