Hello, my fellow home childcare providers. Todays highlight is about our outdoors snowy day of play and making snowmen. All the children got an opportunity to make their very own little snowmen from the molds we purchased at target – these molds were purchased many years ago. See similar ones here . We will also look at moments of play indoors – those are days when it is so cold that not even the birds fly.
We live in the Midwest, and our winters can be very extreme; we PLAY outdoors unless it is frigid degrees. Frigid for our nature school, maybe somewhere under 20 degrees Fahrenheit, depending on the wind gusts. Strong winds from the GreatLakes can make it unbearable for the little ones. As a home educator with young children, I make the call when the weather is not ideal condition for young children who do not like to wear gloves. I know some people refer to the adage – ‘there is no bad weather, only bad clothes’, but I chose to differ. There are weather conditions that not even clothes can help – ask a hiker trapped in a snow storm or ask my Caribbean people who know about hurricanes. On days when we are uncomfortable with the weather conditions, we take the outdoors indoors. If your home daycare is in a warmer climate, those days may feel like the inner earths core. In either situations, we can take the outdoors indoors.
Some Of Our Indoor Winter Play Building Our Snowmen
Welcome to our snowy play day – mild temperatures of only 33 degrees Fahrenhiet for us felt very warm. After you have gone through days of minus degrees, 33 degrees feels welcoming. I often remind myself I was born and raised in sunny Jamaiaca, but I have acclimated to this type of cold weather :). And because I love the outdoors, I have no choice but to get accustomed to the midwest cold, and by default, the children in my home daycare were not given a choice. We all opt outdoors on days when it is sunny, raining, cold, snowing – we are outdoor people. This day the sun’s rays felt warm enough for us to bask and play – the sun can create a mirage which makes winter days bearable.
If you are a home educator thinking of outdoor adventures. Please know there may be an adjustment period. Maybe you will need to make the switch, or maybe it is the children who are not accustomed to outdoor cold play. Either way getting comfortable with the outdoors can take some adjustment, mind shift, planning, and execution over time.
Here Are The Children Rolling Around
The children in my home daycare range from just turned two years old to just turned four years old. In the past, I had infants in my care. Those days we all would head outdoors, I have had occasions where the infants slept outdoors, yes, in the snow. Other times, I had an assistant who would help with the younger children, those with different sleep schedules. Now that I am older and have grown my professional muscle, I no longer offer care to infants. I do not have the capacity for infants who needs more care, attention, and demands more than I can give.
This snow mold allowed me to scaffold each child to build their very own snowman / snowwoman, whatever you call it.
Twigs from an old branch we collected in the fall was used for some of the snowmen legs and arms. We love to collect branches, barks, sticks, pinecones, leaves, and all the nature bits within our region.
Playing outdoors in the snow can be exhausting. When the children in my home daycare are finished with outdoor play, usually, it is time for us to eat lunch, read books, and then nap. To help their outdoor loving souls, I usually prepare lunch ahead of time – just a little warm up, and we are good. Or I may make some sandwiches after my gym workout in the mornings.
What else did they do in the snow?
One of my children loves rocks, and she loves to color, paint and brush snow off the rocks – here she is carrying some from the creek. We have a dry creek in our backyard which provides a sensory pad for all the children.
Do you allow the children to play outdoors, even in the snow, when it’s uncomfortable for you? During my consulting sessions, I have interacted with providers who are not there yet – some venture outdoors when the weather is warm, mild but not when it’s raining, snowing, or below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. And I understand! I understand the work it takes to prepare the children for the outdoors. I understand how laboring it can be, especially if you have a mixed age group, as I’ve had in the past. In the past, I had infants all the way to school agers. When children have different sleep schedules, it can be daunting. If you work by yourself as I do, it can pose significant challenge. For those providers who work with others, I beg of you to take shifts and share the outdoor experience. Can you and your assistant work something out? The person who likes the winter and the outdoors can you be responsible of taking the children outdoors. How about a trade for those who love the summer heat or sandbox play? Or how about the person who loves to feed the infants? Can that person take care of the children while another takes care of the nature children – the ones who love the mud, water, and snow?
Now what are some benefits of the outdoors? Here is an article from Community Playthings that may offer you some support. I often comment about the smell of winter, which is not the same as Spring, Summer, or Fall. The sounds of winter are different, and this year our birds have been very active. During our snowfall, we witnessed birds in flight, playing, and eating – and is a different scenery on minus degree days.
Here are some authors who have influenced my practice.
- Have you read the book Last Children in The Woods by Richard Louv? If not, I recommend having this book on your shelf, not just as a trophy but as a reference guide, one you read from cover to cover with lots of sticky notes and highlights. Richard Louv also refers to nature as Vitamin N.
- Scott Sampson book is one of my other favorites.
- David Sobel, he has written many books about the outdoors and its benefits to all but especially to young children, and my philosophy is drawn his practice.
- Parker Palmer has influenced my heart and reflection. Read an article here. If you like what you read, I encourage you to look more into his books
I encourage my fellow home childcare professionals, my home based educators, my home daycare providers, and those working with mixed age children / multi aged children of different families – those who are walking in the trenches daily -please think of mental preservation – ways to slow down and help your sanity. Take small steps to change your teachers heart, and landscape. Do what feels COMFORTABLE to you, not what social media is pushing, but please take time to find your happy moments.
May your days be filled with play, reflection, and much outdoor learning. Until next time – I am Suzette Salmon, aka Miss Sue, Sue Sue, daily in the trenches with you – x0x0 Miss Sue
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