“ Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.” – Edith Sitwell
Our lives, including the lives of our children, are becoming incredibly busy. With school, work, and extra curricular activities, it often feels as though we are running on an endless hamster wheel. When the weather turns cold and wet, instead of searching for ways to occupy our time through additional activities, I like to give myself permission to move slowly. Retreating inside and bringing the pace way down, is often a blessing and reminds us that both children and adults need and require unscheduled time to play, read and be inventive. It is essentially a mind shift, a change in perspective to abandon schedules and just allow the day to unfold as it may.
On those rainy days when we prefer to stay indoors, or when the weather is cold and blistery, we naturally have less desire to run outside (though this is still possible and encouraged) and enjoy the coziness of our homes. When unstructured play has ended, here are a few ideas to keep children engaged and creative.
Read: My children have always enjoyed a good book, but now, at six and eight, they love to hear stories about childhood adventures. Create a cozy reading nook in your home, or a sacred place on the couch and open your favorite book. If you select a book that is also a film, commit to completing the book before you watch the movie. By finishing the book, your children have the opportunity to create the characters in their minds, set the scenes through their own imagination and visualize the book before they see it on the screen.
When reading, point out sight words (those words that are most used in your language) and then ask your children to identify such words in the text. Also, for emerging readers, take the time to allow your child to read words, or sentences to practice his or her skills.
Here is one more fun way to incorporate reading into your household. Set a goal for the number of books you hope to read over the winter months. By creating a book challenge and tracking your progress, your children will stay engaged in the process and ignite their love of reading.
Great books to read out loud include:
Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
James and the Giant Peach Roald Dahl – anything by Roald Dahl
The Magic Tree House books by Mary Pope Osborne
Harry Potter and the Philospher’s Stone – J.K. Rowling
Not sure where to find English books that don’t cost a fortune, consider purchasing used books at Bücher – Brocky. Located at Güterstrasse 137, 4053 Basel, all children’s books are just CHF 2. We have founds some remarkable treasures for the entire family at this super location right behind the SBB.
Movies: If you notice your children are low on energy, there is nothing wrong (I have come to terms with this myself) with making a nest of blankets on the living room floor, piling up your favorite snacks and enjoying an afternoon or evening of an at home theater experience.
Allow your children to select the movie and as a family, sit down and watch the film together. After the movie has concluded, ask your children questions about what they saw, how they felt and how they would rate the film.
Spirit: Stallion of the Cimarron
The Jungle Book
Bake: Teaching children to bake is a skill that they will carry with them, so why not get started on a rainy day? Flip through your favorite cookbook and allow your children to pick the recipe that they want to make. Be sure you have the ingredients on hand and get started.
Teach children how to read a recipe, how to measure ingredients, how to use caution when in the kitchen and finally, how to enjoy their latest creation. Strap on your aprons, measure, mix and create a family recipe the entire family will enjoy.
So, pull up a chair, pour your favorite beverage and enjoy your cake, muffins, or treats together.
Baking Suggestions: Cookies, Muffins, Cakes, Granola Bars
Baking Tips: To enhance the nutrition of your baked goods, consider adding vegetables to your recipe. Shredded zucchini adds extra moisture to banana bread and muffins, or add shredded carrots or pureed vegetables to any recipe to boost nutrition. Consider substituting maple syrup or date syrup instead of using processed sugar.
Finally, by subsisting whole grain flour for white flour, you are also adding additional nutrients to your baked goods. Enjoy!
Learn: Rainy days provide a wonderful opportunity to learn something new. Not sure where to start, take a moment to think about your last holiday, or family experience. If you were just at the beach and your children discovered Sea Urchins, find out all that you can about those prickly, little creatures. Where do they live, what is their life cycle, are they dangerous, how do you handle them, what do they eat, etc?
Have your child draw or write down all that they have learned and place such drawings and discoveries in a notebook that he or she can reference later.
Play Games: There is nothing like a good game and luckily, there are loads of fun games that children can play to keep them occupied. By having a family game night, or afternoon, the children are learning vital skills such as, strategy, patience and teamwork.
Some of our favorite games include: Monopoly, War – with cards, Jenga, Uno, Puzzles
When the weather turns cold or rainy, instead of allowing fear of idleness to wash over you, learn to embrace the changing of the seasons. Each year, after months of travel and busy schedules, I find myself longing for the slow pace of winter. I indulge in the warm drinks, the cozy sweaters and the ability to retreat indoors. I find our children echo that same sentiment as I observe them waking slowly, asking to wear their fluffy robes and smiles when they desire nothing more than quiet mornings spent in the house.
With their Ovomaltine in hand, their warm socks on, they spread themselves out in their rooms, create LEGO cities, play games that haven’t been used during the hot days of summer and much like a bear in the winter months, they move at a slower pace and wait for the spring to force them outside once again.