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Dashing through the snow:
Let's share the experience

By Maureen Penko

Daylight saving time has arrived, and the winter season, has all of us thinking about staying warm. For most Manitoban children, this means warmer jackets with hoods, are to be worn, the mitts, scarves and boots are all lined up ready for the cold ahead. For some children, this will be their first winter with minus temperatures. Not only is the experience new but so is the vocabulary. Words such as bundle up, toque, crunchy snow, snowflakes slippery, icicles, frosty, scraping, shiver, windburn, to name a few. There is also the sequence of getting ready first this then .... and last. Winter signals indoor and outdoor activities. These experiences allow a child to understand what they need to have worn to do a particular activity such as skating, tobogganing and skiing. There are many places that one can go as a family to have these experiences at no cost or a small cost such as St Vital Park, Assiniboine Park, The Forks and fort Whyte Alive. Skates can be rented if you don't own any. Going as a family makes these events special especially when there is hot chocolate waiting at the end of the activity. One of our family favourites was going on a sleigh ride at Birdshill or Assiniboine park.

The winter season also brings about festivities, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza. These are times spent with friends and relatives. Games, songs, baking crafts and lights are all part of the indoor festivities. Regardless of your child's age there is something that you can do with them. A possibility is walking indoors at some of the greenhouses to look at the lights and decorations and smell the fresh pine. Sharing of time and talking together is one of the most important things families can do as all are very busy and have very little together time. Many community centres put on craft shows, Michael's store and some of the green houses have a craft activity you can do with our child. Develops your child's creative minds and crafts allows for sequencing and motor skills to develop in addition to the joy of the end product. Creating a wreath by decorating with pine cones, ornaments, ribbons, shells, sparkly styrofoam and just about anything that makes it special. Glue on some winter vocabulary.

Another topic would be to talk about what the animals do in the winter. The Zoo is a great place to discover and learn the ways of animals in the winter. We know that the geese fly south for the winter, but what about all the other birds? You can teach your child descriptive words that differentiate the birds from one another. Habitats of the animals during the winter is a wonderful winter project. One can even watch a movie on the topic.

This season would not be complete without talking about music and books. Music has been one of the most powerful mediums to teach our children melody and words. We associate the season with beautiful voices and song. Despite your beliefs the month of December is one that had such beautiful melodies that you can expose children to. You can go to concerts at the school, the Winnipeg symphony orchestra has children's performances, and listening to CD's are all the ways to promote melody.

Books are always a hit when it comes to snuggle and share time with mum and dad or amongst siblings. Toad Hall toys, Chapters, McNally Robinson and other retail stores bring in shipments of books specially for Christmas.

Finally, toys are always a factor when we think about the holidays. Stores carry toys for every age. When planning to buy toys, think about the experience the child gets when playing with the toys, and if they can be involved in a cooperative exchange with another person. Learning to play a game with someone else allows for learning how to: take a turn, waiting, watching, listening and communicating.

Remember the warm drink, a blanket or wearing a scarf to share a great book. Here are some titles of books I found that are new this year:
For the 10-year-old Diary of a Wimpy Kid The Meltdown by Jeff Kinney, The Snowy Nap for the 3-year-old by Jan Brett and Little Snowflake by Antonnio Boffa a flap book for any preschool child with a lovely ending "Do you want to play" Snowflake excitedly asked his new friend.

Happy holidays and enjoy the experience.

Feature Articles:

Top 12 Winter Family Fun Activities

Winnipeg Parent's Unique Holiday Gift Ideas

Sleep Right, Sleep Tight

Dashing through the snow: Let's share the experience

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