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Winter Theme Ideas

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow…
Well, the first snow of the year is upon us and I thought now would be a wonderful time to throw out some winter theme ideas. Many of these are a favorite in this house and work well with all my children despite their differences in age and abilities. When I think winter, I think food. Yep, when the temperature drops, I turn on the oven and start baking. You won’t find me within 10 feet of an oven in the summertime, but I’ll bake all week long in the winter. I also think books and reading too. What better time of year to snuggle up on the couch with a blanket and read together? I’ve included a list of our favorite books to read in the wintertime. Below you’ll find a list of my favorite winter themed activities, movies, books, and snacks—some of these may work with your family too, others may need a lot of modification—but above all, have FUN!

Winter Activities
Winter=snow right? Well, sometimes it’s just too darned cold to go outside and play in the snow, so why not bring the snow inside? I’m not talking about real snow here (although it’s possible!); I’m talking about Insta-Snow. If you haven’t played with Insta-Snow yet, you’re totally missing out! It’s a great sensory toy for your kiddo on the spectrum and it’ll be hard to keep even the older kids away from this stuff. Insta-Snow is not only a great sensory toy; it’s a wonderful learning toy. Show your child how the powder expands rapidly into a snow like consistency and teach your child about the concept of how things absorb, expand, melt, and even what polymers are for the older kids. The Insta-Snow will melt if salt is poured on it; otherwise, it stays the same powdery consistency. Insta-Snow comes from Steve Spangler Science and if you’re looking for more information on how to teach science to kids in a way that will blow your hair back, you’ll find that and more on their website here. 
You don’t have to rely entirely on Insta-Snow though to talk about snow or the concept of winter. Try doing some other activities that involve making snowmen out of paper plates (that one’s timeless!), snowmen balloons (watch those younger children for choking hazards!), and make snowmen out of marshmallows (always fun to eat but watch the younger children for choking hazard) or cotton balls (soft and fuzzy for your sensory kids), or shaving cream (also a great tactile experience). Instead of using chocolate pudding to paint with, try using vanilla pudding (great for licking fingers) on a dark background. Making paper snowflakes or using white glitter and black construction paper is also fun too. If you get the glue and glitter out, let your child use their fingers to trace shapes, letters, or faces. Any of these activities allow you to incorporate letters, numbers, and names and to let your child trace or draw them in the Insta-snow, with glitter, or even marshmallows. The balloon snowmen are fun because you can put happy, sad, angry, or even surprised faces on them and practice recognizing emotions while bouncing that balloon back and forth like a volleyball (thanks to my daughter Skye on that idea!). 
More great winter type activities revolve around concepts like freezing ice, melting ice, and even skating. Try freezing some small toys like dinosaurs or even your latest action figure and then pretend to be a paleontologist by discovering a prehistoric animal or person! Ewan was a little ticked the first time we froze one of his figures but then he got into it when we tried it with dinosaurs. That’s a fun activity to do after watching a movie like Ice Age or now Ice Age 2. Use salt to melt the ice and experiment with other materials to see what works best at melting the ice. also has some cool video clips about ice ages and prehistoric animals. Snow cones are a fun treat when talking about things that are cold, things made from ice, and also things that melt. You can add in talking about colors and flavors as you make different flavors of snow cones too. Talk about artic animals like polar bears, penguins, reindeer (the real ones, not the flying kind!), seals, and whales. There are plenty of movies and books that go along with these topics, including March of the Penguins which just enthralled all my children, even the 2 year old. If you’re going to talk about ice and things that are cold, shouldn’t we be thinking ice skating? Yes, I know how hard it would be to take young children ice skating, but for this activity you don’t have to leave the house! Try some carpet skates, again Steve Spangler Science sells these and I believe there are other brands as well. Carpet skates are just cool, everybody loves them and you’ll find yourself playing with them after the kids have gone to bed! Of course, if you have hardwood or linoleum floors, you don’t need no stinkin’ skates, just a good pair of socks!
Finally, what is a winter theme without talking about seasons in general? It’s always a great idea to throw in talking about spring, summer, fall, and now winter. Get out photos of something special that you did for each season. Make a ‘seasons’ photo album that shows all the fun stuff you did so far in the year. It not only reinforces the concept of seasons or change, but it also gives your little one a chance to work on telling stories and sequencing. It’s also fun to pretend to have a hot, summer day smack in the middle of winter. Turn up the heat and break out the shorts—and really mess with the kid who issues with routine. Seriously though, it’s kind of fun to re-enact the fun stuff you did when it was warmer!
Movies and Books
Winter isn’t winter without a few good movies and books. Buying a new pair of PJs and watching a classic like Christmas Vacation is a tradition in this house. Of course, that one’s just for daddy and me. The kids like all the classic Rudolph and Christmas animation tales that are on TV this time of year. Many of the movies the kids like to watch center around Christmas like:
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
Frosty the Snowman
Miracle on 34th Street (my daughter likes the newer version)
Home Alone
A Christmas Story (my husband’s favorite)
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
The Polar Express (a movie we watch year round!!)
Charlie Brown’s Christmas
But there are also general winter themed movies like:
Backyardigans Snow Fort DVD
Arthur’s Snow Day
Snow Dogs (Disney)
Snow Day
Chronicles of Narnia, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe (for bigger kids)
The Neverending Story
March of the Penguins
Little Bear Winter Tales
During the winter months, there will be plenty of indoor time and that also means plenty of time for reading. Whether its reading time, nap time, or bedtime—anytime is a good time to read.  Often, if the story is about a type of animal, we’ll get out our little Schleich animals to hold and use as a prop during the story. Here are some of my favorite winter or holiday themed books:
Penguins (Scholastic Book)
Penguins Through the Year (Scholastic Book)
If You Take a Mouse to the Movies
Evergreens are Green
Huggly’s Christmas
The Stable Where Jesus Was Born (get out your nativity set!)
Little Polar Bear Take Me Home!
The Story of Christmas
The Polar Express (of course!)
The Snowman (my absolute favorite!)
Who Is Coming To Our House?
Mouse’s First Snow
Mr. Snow (from the Mr. Men and Little Miss Series—old school stuff)
Snow Day
Snow Sounds: An Onomatopoeic Story
Snow Bear
Snow Moon
Water (Scholastic Book talks about properties of water)
Whales (Scholastic Book)
What Will The Weather Be Like Today?
Wind (Scholastic Book)
Mom and Me Cookbook: Have Fun in the Kitchen!
Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do you hear?
Polar Mammals (Scholastic Books)
Big Bear, Little Bear
Snack Time
What’s a good movie or a good story time without a good winter time snack? I’ve included a list of some great recipes to keep everyone warm in the winter. Many of them can be tied into the theme you and your child are talking about with your activities or books and movies your into. Try anything with Fondue! Roseart makes a cute little kid’s size Chocolate Fountain and I believe you can use cheese with it too. Great for your feeding aversion kids to practice dipping and licking new foods!! Try pretzels, bananas, strawberries, angel food cake, really anything that trips your trigger!
Some simple ones would be snow cones, marshmallows, popcorn, and cocoa. Others that require a little more work are:
The Classic Chex Mix Recipe—on the back of every Chex Mix cereal.
No Bake Cookies
3 cups quick oatmeal
2 cups sugar
1 cup coconut
½ cup milk
½ cup shortening
6 oversized tablespoons cocoa
1 teaspoon vanilla
½ teaspoon salt
Directions: Combine sugar, milk, and shortening in a pan and bring to a rolling boil. Remove from heat. Add other ingredients and mix, mix, mix! Drop by rounded spoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet and voila cookies!
Popcorn Smores
½ cup (1 stick) butter
½ cup corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 package of mini marshmallows
10 cups popped popcorn
2 cups graham cookies (teddy grahams)
1 cup chocolate chips
Directions: Combing the brown sugar, butter, and corn syrup in medium saucepan and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in baking soda. Combine marshmallows and popcorn in large bowl and pour sugar mixture over popcorn. Stir in cookies and chocolate chips. Spread mix on a 15X10 pan, cool, and break apart into pieces.
Coconut Macaroon Cupcakes
1 cup dry milk powder
1 cup sugar
1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
½ cup butter
1/3 cup evaporated milk
2 ½ cup coconuts
Directions: Stir together all the dry ingredients. Beat the butter and sugar together, then add evaporated milk and egg yolk. Add flour with 1/3 cup evaporated milk. Stir in coconut and then spoon the batter into muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until slightly brown.


It’s not that I have discovered the best kept sandwich secret in the greater Charleston.ip


That’s a fun activity to do after watching a movie like Ice Age or now Ice Age 2.

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