Kristen Freeman Designed Image
It is getting cold here in Michigan. Most days, we are only able to stay outside 30 minutes at a time. I have had to reimagine, plan and curate focused activities that will decrease the chaos during this season, in our home. While I still value free play along with time spent cooking in the kitchen together, I realize that a solid, intentional project or activity:
> allows for deeper connection
> builds a team mentality/teamwork amongst child-parent and siblings
> decreases mess after mess
> decreases chaos and dis-regulation
> allows children to feel a sense of accomplishment and confidence in their work
> gives opportunity for child to work through organic, natural adversities in safe spaces
While I don’t know all the statistics, I realize it is fortifying, fun and exciting for them...and for me! It breaks up the days and allows us to do something special and out of the ordinary block stacking, book reading and coloring.
Now, I know many of you will be home on break with your children for a couple of days, or in some instances...weeks (gasp) during the holiday season. Here are some of our most favorite cold weather activities this holiday season.
1.) Paint the shower
Yes, that’s correct. Let your kids paint the shower. I purchase our washable paints, paint brushes and ice trays online or at Dollar Tree. Budget friendly and pretty simple, squirt a bit of paint in the ice tray, skipping every other section to minimize paint mixing (because one of my kids does not deal well with paints touching....you guess which one).
After that, we get down to underwear and diapers, climb into the shower and go at it. I believe part of the allure and excitement comes from the feeling of “painting on the walls”. This allows them the freedom to make a huge mural and a big mess, too.
When we have squeezed that phase dry of its excitement, we move onto cleaning the shower together. This builds a sense of teamwork while seeing these duties as fun and engaging. Everyone takes a rag to the walls and floor with dishwashing soap and/or all-purpose cleaning spray (we make a kid friendly one: baking soda, lavender & vinegar). We don’t quit until it’s all off and white, again. Hello, is that you persistence. I love interweaving activities with building values. It is also a bonus for this mama who (sometimes) needs some extra motivation to scrub the showers.
I also enjoy that the craft washes right away. Is it just me or do any other moms feel like they are swimming in their toddler’s artwork? As much as I love to archive special projects, this cuts down on paper waste which the planet perserver in me really appreciates.
I enjoy the three-in-one action of this activity as I usually do it in the afternoons after rest time. It is an art project. It is a fulfillment of the household cleaning responsibilities. It is also bath time.
Which makes me feel like we are one step closer to bedtime....(long exhale) IYKYK
Disclaimer: we have a basic, factory shower/bath with white, vinyl walls. I would not do this with intricately tiled walls, though. It would likely be a pain to get out of the grout.
2.) Create your yearly family ornament or paint a wooden piece
If your family has a tree up for this time of year, you can opt for an ornament....or six, depending upon how many times you want to repeat the craft. This year, my children and I did a very simple one. We picked up a two pack of wooden “F’s” for our last name on our latest store run. They painted them once in the morning. We allowed that color to dry during rest time. Then, we painted it again that afternoon with a different color, splattering and swirling. We hung twine and lace ribbon off the top and stuck it on our tree. They turned out really neat, too.
Boom- very easy.
I enjoy that this can be an ongoing tradition, labeling the back with names and years, hanging them on the tree for a decade to come.
I can imagine my teenage kids helping us put up our tree and us unboxing all of their cute, hand painted ornaments from when they were little tots.
There are many, many ornament ideas out there. Some include gluing and cutting while others are pretty basic, utilizing only paint like we did. Wood versus paper will always be better for us since we are known to move, a lot; we need something durable. You may want to think ahead on how you plan to store and preserve them. Either way, your child is going to love it. And if they are anything like mine, they will wake up each morning, point to their ornament hanging there and remind you 20 times that they made it.
If your family does not celebrate with a tree during this season, no worries, the dollar tree stores haa a great selection of wooden pieces in their craft aisle all year around, varying in shapes and sizes. Sometimes, they have wooden figurines and animals. This allows children to create a work of art they can hold onto, set and hang up in their room or keep to use during imaginative play.
3.) The Noodle Necklace
Does anyone else share a deep nostalgia for the noodle necklace? I can clearly remember stringing noodles together during the PTO-provided holiday parties right before getting handed a Little Debbies cake, juice box and gift bag with bells jingling off my Christmas sweater (and I knew I was killin' it).
Ah, those were the days!
Now, at home, we recreate it. Penne noodles work best for us. I would usually opt for the regular ones when doing this craft with little fingers (1-2 year olds). All we had was the mini penne this time and we made it shake. It actually made for a welcomed fine-motor challenge for my four year old, which she enjoyed. One quarter of a box should be plenty for 2-3 necklaces.
We put noodles down on a sheet of construction paper. They painted them. While we let them dry, we talked more about the Christmas holiday. We read a few books about Christmas and danced to some Holiday songs.
After the noodles were completely dry, we pulled them off of the paper and strung them together on twine. We talked more about patterns, using red, white and green. We tied them up, put them on and gave all the 'oh's and 'ah's to one another. Afterward, you have this neat sheet of randomly painted paper that could be used as the base for another craft.
I usually make the crafts alongside my children to guide vs. having a finished product they are comparing theirs to. During projects, I focus on the process with them over the aesthetic result, as I desire to flourish their hardwork, along with their uniqueness. For our children, I observe it makes for more curiosity and creativity.
Image via Chronicle News