Asset #17 – Play and Creative Activities
by Kelly Curtis from Pass the Torch
Although I can’t speak for those living in warmer climates, I know in northern Wisconsin many of us tend to hibernate in the winter. The fun play activities that are so easy to organize outside in the summer months sometimes disappear altogether in January and February. Even on mild, sunny days, when the temperature rises above the freezing point, it can be daunting to manage the bulky winter gear required for creating snowmen and forts. But our diligence in encouraging creative play with our kids really does pay off.
Search Institute has identified Play and creative activities as one of the 40 Developmental Assets, which means research shows it’s a characteristic of healthy, caring, resilient kids. The more assets youth have, the more likely they’ll resist risky behaviors in the future. Search defines play and creative activities for young children as: “The child has daily opportunities to play in ways that allow self-expression, physical activity and interaction with others.”
There are few activities more special to kids than those done with Mom or Dad, and fun activities may be easily within your reach – even in the coldest days of winter. Hook up with another family and try some of these fun winter ideas with your children:
Get outside. Watch your weather forecasts and plan ahead for simple and short outdoor activities on mild days.
- Bundle up with your child and help them to make a snowman, build a fort or create a snow angel.
- Go for a scavenger hunt in your backyard.
- Play “I Spy” in a walk through your neighborhood. Drag a sled along in case little legs get tired on the way home
Bring outside in. Who says you can’t play ball inside?
- Clear a spot in the basement that is dedicated to rowdy play during the winter. Remove any objects that might be breakable or harmful, and volley a beach ball back and forth.
- Buy a remnant piece of carpet and extra carpet pad for one corner of the family room. Designate it as the “tumbling area.”
- Pitch a tent in an unused area of the house and encourage your kids to haul in their pillows and sleeping bags. The physical work you ask them to do is good for their bodies.
Go somewhere! Why reinvent what communities may already provide for us?
- Visit a children’s museum or science museum in your area. Many have hands-on exhibits designed for younger children. (I’ve written about several in Minneapolis, Chicago and Florida.)
- Purchase a day pass at the YMCA, if you don’t have a membership, or ask your local motel for resident rates to use the pool.
- Go for lunch at a fast-food restaurant with an indoor play area.
How do you help your kids find fun in the winter?
Thanks for joining in to build assets in your kids! I look forward to seeing you again next month for Positively Speaking.
Kelly Curtis is a Wisconsin school counselor and author of Empowering Youth: How to Encourage Young Leaders to Do Great Things. To read more about Kelly, please visit her Weblog, Pass the Torch.