As a preschool educator, I know children form an understanding of the natural world through meaningful experiences; however, winters in New Jersey can be too cold for young children to play outdoors. These three activities begin with a 15-30 minute outdoor exploration followed by an art project to do indoors. The “Extra Explorations” are ideas to expand upon your child’s learning through related activities or discussions. Remember to keep safety first, and always ensure young children are properly dressed for the weather and elements.
Materials: Digital camera; your preschooler’s favorite art media (watercolor, crayon, pencil, etc.)
Outdoors: Take a walk around your favorite park and snap a few interesting pictures. Help your preschooler capture images of the season, such as bare branches, snow, icicles, wintertime birds and wildlife, etc.
Indoors: View the pictures and help your preschooler pick his favorite image. Have him use his favorite media to recapture the scene in his artwork.
Extra Explorations: Summarize your walk while viewing the pictures and use transitional words (then, next) and ordinal phrases (first, second). Label objects in pictures by name or initial letter.
Materials: Clean snow; clean spray bottles; brightly-colored juices; play-clothes
Indoors: Fill clean spray bottles with different brightly-colored juices. Help your preschooler get ready for messy outdoor play. Have your preschooler wear stretchy play-clothes, or old clothes, on top of his outerwear to prevent unnecessary laundering (which removes the weather-protective coating on outerwear).
Outdoors: Let your preschooler unleash his creativity!
Extra Exploration: Slightly heat one spray-bottle of juice by placing in a bowl of hot water. Spray primary-colored juices (yellow and red) together to form secondary colors (orange). Adjust the nozzle to stream, and write letters and numbers.
Winter Treasures Collage
Materials: Bag, pail, or basket; Paper, foam, or felt; glue; shampoo
Outdoors: Take a stroll with your preschooler around the neighborhood or through your favorite park. Bring a bag, pail, or basket to collect interesting things you find along the way; feathers, stones, leaves, twigs, etc.
Indoors: Gently cleanse the winter treasures by submerging them in a mild shampoo solution of 1 capful of shampoo in 1 gallon of hot water, and then set them on paper towels to dry. Once dry, your preschooler can use the items to form a collage on paper, foam, or felt.
Extra Exploration: Use multiple items to form simple patterns. Label items by name or initial letter. Classify items by living/nonliving or sort by color. Count items and use them to demonstrate simple addition and subtraction problems.