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56 Fun and Festive Things to Do With Your Preschooler This Winter

As a longtime preschool teacher and mom, Ms. Meyers knows winter offers lots of fun and festive activities to share with little ones.


Celebrate the Season

Winter is the season to make warm, wonderful, and whimsical memories with your preschooler. While some adults get the doldrums during the colder months, parents of little ones have the perfect cure-all for the blahs: their very own children! Moms and dads can lift their spirits by viewing the world through the eyes of their youngsters, seeing everything as fresh and exhilarating. While they may want to hibernate at home, their preschoolers will push them to get out, explore new things, have fun adventures, create beautiful memories, and enjoy this festive season.

Get Out of the House

It’s easy to fall into a rut during winter. We get comfortable staying at home where it's warm and cozy, watching too much TV, eating junk food, and putting on pounds. We get overwhelmed by sending out too many holiday cards, finding the oh-so perfect presents, and decorating our houses in holiday finery so they look ready for a photo shoot

Preschoolers, though, can help their parents keep things in perspective. They can push their moms and dads out of their routines and out of their houses. They can get them excited about doing simple and inexpensive activities that make the season more joyful and more meaningful.

1. Go to your local mall or shopping center. Instead of buying stuff, walk around and look at holiday decorations. It's a reminder for kids that spending money isn't necessary to enjoy the season's magic.

2. Go ice-skating at your local rink.

3. Build a snowman or snowwoman.

4. Drive around neighborhoods to see houses decorated for the holidays.

5. Go to your local library and check out books about winter, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and Hanukkah.

6. Go ice-fishing.

7. Collect pine-cones in the woods. Put them in a big bowl or basket to decorate your home.

8. Have a scavenger hunt at your supermarket. Find items associated with this time of year: poinsettias, chestnuts, wreaths, ornaments, holiday cards, candles, eggnog, peppermint ice cream, Buche de Noel, and fruitcake.

9. Visit a Christmas tree farm.

10. Attend your town's tree lighting ceremony.

11. Go carolling with a group of friends.

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12. Go for an evening walk in your neighborhood. Then head home for hot chocolate.

13. Visit Santa at the mall.

14. Go sledding.

15. Go snowshoeing.

16. Visit your nearby fire station and donate an item for their "Toys for Tots" program.

17. Bring cookies to a convalescent home or to a senior on your street.

18. Attend your community's holiday parade.

19. Cut down your Christmas tree in the woods.

20. Make snow angels (see video below).

Get Cozy

Winter gives us the perfect opportunity to stay indoors, get cozy, use our imaginations, and enjoy one another's company. Whether it's making collages, building with blocks, or making paper bag puppets, it's time to engage in new activities, explore new materials, and have new experiences. There's no reason to be bored just because it's cold outside!

21. Make your own wrapping paper. Sponge paint using red and green Tempera paints on white butcher paper.

22. Decorate pinecones. Use a small paint brush to spread glue on them. Sprinkle with gold or silver glitter.

23. Make ornaments with popsicle sticks. Use your imagination to create whatever you want: photo frames, reindeer, Christmas trees, stars. Paint with Tempera and sprinkle with glitter.

24. Create your own holiday gift bags. Decorate brown or white lunch bags with Tempera paints, crayons, markers, and colored pencils. Make snowmen, reindeer, Christmas trees, menorahs, dreidels, and pinecones.

25. Make a collage. Tear pictures from holiday catalogues. Glue them to a heavy piece of paper, overlapping them as you go. Use a small paint brush to cover them with a mixture of glue and water in equal parts.

26. Make ball ornaments. Buy a box of clear ball ornaments at Hobby Lobby or Michaels. Use old crayons and a potato peeler to make crayon shavings using 3-4 different colors. Put them inside the ornament. Heat it with a blow dryer, turning as you go. Watch the shavings melt to make a gorgeous and unique ornament for your tree!

27. Create straw paintings. Put blobs of red and green paint on a white piece of paper. Blow through a straw to make the paints move on your paper. Keep blowing until you're satisfied with your creation.

28. Use cookie cutters to make shapes with gingerbread playdough (see recipe).

29. Paint with colored shaving cream. Put a drop of food coloring into cups filled with shaving cream. Stir. Paint on the windows in your house with small brushes.

30. Make your own holiday cards. Use stickers, stamps, crayons, markers, colored pencils, and paints.

31. Put on holiday music and paint with watercolors.

32. Mark forts with blankets and sheets. Cover tables and chairs to make a castle, a haunted house, or a maze.

33. Have a block party. Invite friends and neighbors over for an afternoon of building with blocks.

34. Make an indoor skating rink. "Skate" on pieces of waxed paper on tile, linoleum, or hardwood. Play classical music. Do tricks. Sell tickets.

35. Freeze little toys in an ice tray. When frozen, chip away at them with a little hammer and chisel.

36. Have fun with shaving cream. Cover a table or cookie sheet with shaving cream. Pretend it’s snow. Drive cars through it. Have dinosaurs walk through it. Use blocks to build a snow castle in it.

37. Make paper bag puppets Create holidays characters: Snowmen, Snowwomen, Santa Claus, elves, reindeer. Put on a puppet show.

38. Make "Snowman Soup" to give to friends. Put the following ingredients in little plastic bags: mini marshmallows, a candle cane, chocolate chips, powdered hot cocoa. Include this poem: Was told that you've been good all year, always glad to hear it. With freezing weather drawing near, you'll need to warm the spirit. So here's a little "Snowman Soup" complete with a stirring stick. Add hot water and sip it slow. It's sure to do the trick!

39. Improve your fine motor skills. Use tweezers and tongs to pick up items and transfer them from one bowl to another: cotton balls, crayons, beans, coins.

40. Make a Christmas chain. Alternate green and red strips of paper. Use a gold strip for Christmas Day. Start on December 1st and cut a link each day.

41. Paint your fingernails and toenails in green and red for the holidays.

42. Make dough ornaments (see video). Bake in the oven. Cool. Paint.

Promote Their Literacy

The winter months are ideal for promoting a preschooler’s literacy. It’s a wonderful time of the year to snuggle in bed together and read books, explore the magic of rhyming words with holiday poems and songs, and to learn how to read a recipe while baking cookies. Talking, listening, following directions, and hearing stories are the most powerful ways for little ones to develop literacy and get prepared to one day become readers themselves.

43. Stay in your pajamas and read books all day.

44. Write a letter to Santa.

45. Use colored chalk to write messages of love on the sidewalk, fence, and garage door in February for Valentine's Day. Learn how to write: love, hearts, cupid, candy, cards, and kindness.

46. Practice writing your name by signing your Valentine's Day cards.

47. Sing holidays songs such as Frosty the Snowman, Jingle Bells, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

48. Write down your New Year's resolution.

49. Write down your wish list for Santa.

50. Read the poem, Twas the Night Before Christmas.

51. Read The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg.

52. Watch the movie, The Polar Express.

53. Make cards for your family and friends to wish them a happy New Year. Decorate them with crayons, stickers, paint, colored pencils, and glitter.

54. Learn how to read a recipe and follow directions by making holiday cookies.

55. Read books about animals that hibernate: bears, bats, turtles, bumblebees, snakes, hedgehogs, and ground squirrels.

56. Listen to holiday music (sing along with Raffi below).

© 2021 McKenna Meyers


McKenna Meyers (author) on October 24, 2021:

Bill, your mom was doing the right thing and parents today should follow her example. There are articles and books written on the importance of "free play," which has decreased greatly in the past 50-60 years. But, that kind of play--with no adults, coaches, teaches, scout leaders, tutors--is what kids need. When they play with one another and do what they want to do, they build social skills, leadership skills, self-confidence, and a joy for life. You were fortunate.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on October 24, 2021:

My mother could have used this list. She just put a parka on me, tied my hat on, and told me to go out and have fun. LOL

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