Snow in winter is the norm here. Some years we get more than others but there is always an abundance of the white stuff to play with.
I like winter. I love snow. However, this year snowfall amounts are becoming excessive. I am running out of places to put the snow that I shovel off the walkways.
The path through the garden area seems like a gorge.
The platform on our prairie hill now requires a step down and where are all the toys?
Who needs toys when you have hills and valleys, cliffs and tunnels.
So yesterday when we looked out the window during our circle time weather check there was a lot of excitement about the huge fluffy flakes filling the air and blanketing the ground. With temperature at a balmy -5 Celsius and no wind we couldn’t wait to get outside.
For an hour we dug holes, shovelled paths, jumped and rolled until it was time to retrieve our Kindergarten friend from school. We left a little earlier than usual because I anticipated the walk to be a slow with all the fresh snow but even I was surprised once we left the shelter of the yard.
The well-used sidewalks now had knee high drifts for the preschoolers. There was a moment of hesitation as we turned the corner and were confronted by a white curtain. ‘How will we know when we get to the school?” questioned the children when they realized they could no longer see the familiar landmarks. Visibility had been drastically reduced by the falling snow – we we’re grateful that there were no accompanying blizzard winds.
Our regular 15 minute walk to school took us nearly half an hour. When we arrived we heard many comments about our troop of snow people. Joined by the kindergarten child we headed back home for lunch.
The return trip was difficult for some. Exhaustion had begun to take over. We’ve had enough snow. Hurry up spring – but please don’t bring a flood.
We have a lot of snow. It is still early in the winter but we had such a warm fall followed by several heavy snowfalls so the snow built up quite quickly. It has been a big adjustment for some but the children and I are enjoying our outdoor play time.
As I watch the children play I keep busy by ‘sculpting’ the yard – clearing snow from the walkways and creating low and high spots in the play areas. I try to enhance their play activities by moving more snow to the areas where they like to climb and dig and moving snow away from areas that could become cozy shelters for imaginary animals or hiding spots for a game of hide and seek. My plan also involves some indirect guidance — if I don’t want the children to play in an area I don’t pile snow there. Children gravitate to snow hills – no amount of ‘stay away from the parking lot/intersection’ commands are going to be effective if that is where the snow plough operator put all the best snow.
As I had hoped (but didn’t tell the children to) they have begun using chunks of snow to build up the area around the tepee.
I’ve added snow around our garden hill to increase its size and moved snow away from the entrance and exit of the tunnel. This creates a great place for rolling and burrowing.
The children have been busy digging in the deep snow on the deck. They’ve worked together to create a narrow hole that reaches all the way to the ground. They take turns looking in the hole and experimenting with sound by have one child yell into the hole while the others try to understand the muffled message.
Outside in the snow the children rarely complain about being bored or cold. My chubby indoor cats however have abandoned their perch on the windowsill in favour of the spot in front of the heat vent.
Most people seemed surprised when I mention Parkour and childcare together. I’m sure that they imagine dangerous stunts and reckless behaviour that is completely inappropriate for a childcare environment.
To be honest, that was my reaction too when my teenage son first engaged in this activity. I warned him never to practice within view of any of the children or even talk about it when they were present.
Then, I spent some time watching him practice and listening to him and researching the topic on my own…and I changed my mind.
Sure it entails running, jumping, climbing and a bit of acrobatics but the focus is on control and precision. Instead of being competitive it involves collaboration, responsibility and play. In fact, the more I learned about it the more I thought – this is a great activity for children!
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying I’d encourage toddlers to jump off buildings but the basic skills training can be adapted for all ages – and they think it is fun to exercise.
All summer my son has been playing in the yard with us and showing the children some of the skills and training he can do in our small space. The children are practicing and learning about spatial awareness, balance and their own physical abilities. They are setting personal goals, problem solving and overcoming obstacles. It’s perfect!
This three-year-old lands like this every time but never falls back — she has learned to lean forward and balance.
Even the two year old can balance on one leg on a log. What fun!