January, Indoors and Out
The weather outside was frightful, but we dressed up to make sure we stayed warm and dry all through January.
The rainy weather wasn't as much fun as being able to build snowmen, make snow angels, and throw snowballs, but we made the best of it. We looked for signs of animal activity and wondered what animals could be hiding under soggy leaves and rocks.
On the days that were too cold to go outside, we had plenty of activities to keep everyone busy inside. One of the children's favorite activities involved pop-up tents and tunnels. It was great fun to build all sorts of cities and buildings by attaching tents in a variety of configurations.
All of the building, crawling, peeking, and giggling inside and outside the tents was great for building coordination and kinesthetic intelligence.
Another favorite activity involved learning colors as we played a variety of movement games with the triangular "river rocks" pictured below. The uneven surfaces of the colorful steppers helped the children develop balance, and adding movement as we named the colors is a proven learning strategy to help children retain material being taught.
After just a few days of playing color games, the younger children were beginning to repeat color names and find the correct colors with increased accuracy.
Much of our pretend play centered around making food and provided ample opportunity for learning manners, practicing taking turns and sharing as pretend food was divided and passed around, for counting as together we figured out how many toppings we wanted on pizza or how many cupcakes we needed to give one to all our friends, and for naming all the foods the children prepared.
A favorite counting game that the older children enjoyed involved building a snowman or reindeer face. The children rolled a die and counted the spots in order to place the matching numbered item. It was great, repetitive practice counting numbers one through six.
January also brought a wonderful new toy to the children- a new dollhouse and figures. The children spent hours creating scenes from home and creating inventive new scenarios within the house. The dollhouse is a wonderful microcosm for reinforcing good character and loving exchanges.
Pretend grocery shopping was also a big source of learning through pretend play. The children explored the roles of shopper, clerk and bagger. Pretend grocery shopping is a wonderful way for the children to learn about social interactions beyond immediate family. We discussed how to load the shopping bags, how to put the items neatly at the "checkout," how to hand money to the cashier, and how to restock the shelves to keep the game going.
Another fun pretend game for the children was pretending to be their favorite cartoon characters and dress themselves in capes as they swept around the room pretending to help those in need of rescuing!
When we weren't busy with outdoor play, movement activities, or pretend play, we had just enough time to make some snow-inspired artwork. We explored shapes and colors together as the children assembled triangles and rectangles to form trees.
Perhaps the most exciting part of creating this artwork was shaking on lots of glitter!
As the month passed and the snowy weather we hoped for didn't show up, so we had to make our own ice in the freezer. One of our state of matter activities revolved around freeing some of our favorite dollhouse dolls and animals which were trapped in ice. The children used spoonfuls of warm water to melt the ice, and after much effort, they succeeded! This activity was a great way to help the children refine their fine motor skills as they poured and dumped.
Later in the month, the children and I looked around the yard for seeds that birds might eat. We found some milkweed pods and had a blast taking turns blowing the fluffy seeds around.
The children also found some of last year's hydrangea blossoms, still holding together, but brown and brittle. They no longer had a smell, but they had their own fragile beauty to enjoy.
Despite wearing lots of layers, it was still lots of fun for the kids to play games like tag and hide and seek, and simply running around.
At last, the moment we had all been waiting for happened near the end of the month! The weather finally cooperated and we were able to go outside and play while the snow fell down. The flakes were small, but it didn't stop us from chasing them and trying to catch them on our tongues.