North Suburban Child and Family Resource Network

Your child’s brain grows at an explosive rate during the first three years of his life. During these critical brain-growth periods, long, thin nerve pathways grow inside the brain. These are wirings that connect and carry electrical impulses from brain cell to brain cell. The resulting network, which grows daily in the young brain, forms the neurological foundation of skills that your child will use for the rest of his life. Experiences after birth, in conjunction with your child’s gene, determine the eventual wiring of the human brain. Existing connections eagerly await new experiences that shape the neural networks for language, reasoning, problem solving, and moral values. New experiences build upon established patterns and create new patterns and networks for more learning. Connections that are used repeatedly will become permanent. Those that are not used get discarded.

You can help your toddler jump-start his brain development by engaging in games and fun activities with him. Everything you do with your toddler - playing, talking, eating, walking, reading, cuddling, and singing help jump-start his brain. When you use your imagination with him, for example, you help his brain to make “imagination pathways” of its own. Children remember experiences that have an emotional component. Gentle, loving fun combined with responsive language from you creates an atmosphere in which learning thrives. That's why it is important for you to bond with your child in these activities. Things you do together enhance his learning (among many other benefits). This is something that play-alone high-tech toys like tablets, video games, tv and others will not be able to offer

Below are some brain-boosting toddler games and activities that you can play with your toddler. It is grouped into specific skills that are being exercised. Although a specific skill is highlighted, typically, each game involves developing a combination of skills. Also these activities are meant to provide ideas and inspire you to come up with others. Feel free to make variations on these games. For example, "Trip to the Garden" can be a "Trip to the Beach", or "Trip to the Park". Just make sure that you play with your toddler in a safe environment using safe materials.

 

10 Brain Boosting Snow Day Activities

by Jessica Lopa

 

It’s that time of year again! The snow is falling, the kids are wearing their jammies inside out and you’re getting the 5 a.m. call that says those words you have been waiting for, “No School Today!”

Everyone loves snow days! Since I was little, I loved watching the snow fall and hoping for a snow day. I will never forget the blizzard of ’96 when we had off for an entire week. I loved making snowmen and sledding in my backyard. Now that I’m a mom, snow days mean even more to me! I love spending the morning snuggling in bed with my boys, making snowmen and snow angels during day and playing games and watching movies at night. Plus, who can forget hot chocolate, hot soup and grilled cheese sandwiches!

Snow days are not only a great time to bond as a family, they are also the perfect time to boost developmental and academic skills. Being home all day leaves plenty of time to engage in fun brain boosting activities that will help kids continue to grow while at home!

Story Time and Craft

Reading together is a wonderful way to spend part of a snow day, especially in front of a cozy fireplace. You can make it even more exciting by making a craft that goes along with the story. Making crafts helps kids boost fine motor skills, creativity and visual skills. Here are some snow themed books I recommend: Sneezy the Snowman, Clifford’s First Snow Day, The Snowy Day and Fancy Nancy: There’s No Day Like a Snow Day.


Here is a fun snowman craft you can make after reading a book like Frosty the Snowman!

Bring the Snow Inside

If the weather is too bad outside, then bring the fun inside! A great way to enjoy snow is to pack some up and put it in your bathtub. Then the kids can get in and play. You can also put it in a large bin and add toys to create a fun sensory experience. 


Scavenger Hunt

One of my boys’ favorite activities to do on a snowy day is have a scavenger hunt. My son especially loves to draw out what he wants to find and then instruct the family on what to do. An easy craft you can do is make your own binoculars then go on a hunt around the house. Want to make it more challenging? Place some objects on the front yard before the big storm, then after it snows dig through the snow to try and find them.


Snow Art

Go ahead, add some color to that glimmering white snow! A fresh coat of snow is a perfect canvas for your little artists. Just add food coloring to water in a squirt bottle and squirt away. Your kids will have a blast making pictures, drawing shapes, making letters or even playing Tic-Tac-Toe.


Have a Game Day or Night

Playing games are exciting ways to increase problem solving, social and language skills. On your next snow day try some games like Charades, Pictopia or Guess Who. Want to make it even more exciting? Try some games outside like ring toss, throwing a ball at a target or having relay races in the snow! Here is a fun football toss outdoor game you may enjoy on a snowy day. I suggest throwing snowballs instead of footballs!


Science Experiments

Kids love mixing things together, figuring out how things work and making things “explode!” Snow days are a great time to engage in fun science experiments together. Kids will be learning all about various scientific concepts while at home! Check out our review of the Usborne book 50 Science Things to Make or Do for some fun ideas. Some exciting science kits you can stock up on in preparation for a snow day are: Mind Blowing Science, Tasty Science, Big Bag of Science and Electronic Snap Circuits.


Exercise

It’s nice to sit around and watch movies on a snow day, but make some time to get up and get active too! Play a fun game of Simon Says, make an exciting obstacle course, create work out stations around the house, play freeze dance or enjoy a game on the Wii. Engaging in physical activity can help beat cabin fever as well as allow kids to get their energy out so they are better able to focus during story and craft time!


Sledding

What’s more fun than sledding after a big storm? Whether it’s in your backyard or at a town hill, whether it’s on a tube or super cool sled, sledding is a great way for families to bond while having fun! It’s also helps boost social skills and confidence! 


Build a Snowman

“Do you wanna build a snowman?” Of course you do! Building a snowman or even a snow family is a wonderful way to show off your imagination and creativity. It also improves gross and fine motor skills! Too cold or windy out? Make a snowman inside! Pinterest offers a wide variety of fun snowman crafts from making them out of marshmallows to using shaving cream!


Show Kindness towards Others

After, or even during a storm, is a great time to teach kids about helping others. Let the older kids shovel an elderly neighbor’s driveway or see if they need help cleaning off their car. If you lose power, check on your neighbor to see if they need anything.

 

 

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