Educational Fun for the Winter Holidays October 10 2011

Now that winter is almost here, the weather is less than ideal for playing with slides, sand boxes, and paddling pools, but that doesn’t mean that it’s time to put all of the garden toys for children away. There’s still a lot of fun to be had outside, it just takes a little creativity.

The changing of the seasons is a great chance for a few educational play sessions. Next time your child is playing out on a swing, have them watch the falling leaves, and perhaps catch a few to try drawing or painting with them. Do they know why the leaves are falling? Do they know what else changes in nature during the autumn?

Once it starts snowing, it’s probably time to bring in some of the summer garden toys for children, but there are lots of winter toys that they can have fun with. Now is the time to dig out the winter coat, the extra pairs of gloves, and a nice sturdy pair of boots. If the snow is deep enough, then why not have sled races? Or spend the evenings building a snowman and having snowball fights. Plastic sleds that are suitable for primary-school aged children can be obtained pretty cheaply these days, as can body-boards aimed at older children. Of course, if you decide to buy these, make sure that your kids know to avoid playing with them near main roads. It’s all too easy for car drivers to fail to see a child that is close to the ground playing on a sled, so it’s best for them to stay off the roads entirely.

[caption id="attachment_7895" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Photo by a silly muse"][/caption]

Lighter snow can still be fun to play in. If you have some old cookie cutters, why not cut out shapes on the snow, and leave messages running along walls, or on the window sill? See how long the shapes last before they melt, or get covered by new layers of snow.

Those who live in rural areas can have hours of fun without using manufactured garden toys for children – nature offers plenty of toys! Take a water bottle, a camera, and a magnifying glass, and go looking for animals in the nearby woods. You should see plenty of tracks and trails, and, if you’re really quiet (and lucky), you might get some amazing photographs of animals in the snow.

Just remember to make sure that they wrap up well, and that they don’t go too far off the beaten path, especially in rural areas. The weather can be quite changeable, and what starts out as a pretty and gentle snowfall can quickly deteriorate into biting winds and blizzard-like conditions.

There’s so much to do outside at any time of the year, but it’s easy to forget what the world outside has to offer, especially when you have TV and Internet at home. It may take a little persuasion to get older kids to leave behind the electronics, but once you get them outside they usually have a lot of fun – even if they don’t always want to admit it!

This article was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of The Original Factory Shop. Like many kids these days, Crispin's children prefer the indoors to the outdoors; Crispin wants to change this!