How can adults help insure that time indoors is spent with creative and fun activities rather than passive TV or other screen time? For activities to keep kids active on cold winter days see www.grandparentsteachtoo.org for videos and pod casts.
SABIN, DAVIS, HETRICK, ANDEREGG, MALADY, WALKER, DARLING and KATERS
Experts agree that children need to exercise the big muscles in their arms, legs, and trunk of their body every day. Gather some materials around the house and turn the living room or hallway into a play area.
Make a basket: Set up an empty wastebasket and show children how to toss a small ball or wad of newspaper to score a basket. Keep score to reinforce counting and adding one or two more.
In-house obstacle course: Arrange chairs, pillow, couch cushions, small stools, and other items to make a small course. Make up your own rules about running, crawling through, and jumping over the items in the course. Keep time like in the Olympics and cheer at the completion of the course.
Music and dance time: Play some fast moving music on the radio or player and get exercise by dancing, hopping, and jumping. Then play some calmer music and glide around. Can you imitate others' moves?
Design a fort: Throw a few sheets over a table and place cushions under the table to make a cozy fort. Go on a treasure hunt for hidden Valentine hearts or stuffed animals. Bring them back to the fort, read to stuffed animals, have a snack, and take a nap.
Put on a show: Make a stage by placing tipped over chairs to separate the players from the audience. Act out a scene from a story, dance to music, or sing a song. Children not on stage can take a phone movie to enjoy and share with the rest of the family later.
All of February is heart month. Gather red and white paper, child's scissors and glue. Demonstrate how to fold a piece of paper in half. Using a heart model, draw around the shape with the fold in the middle. Cut the double paper on the half heart line and open it up to see the heart. Cut small heart shapes and glue them on the bigger ones.
Decorate with stickers or markers and tape to the refrigerator.
What else can we do?
The National Wildlife Federation Kids Section at www.nfw.org suggests a fun activity using heart shapes turned various ways to make butterflies, rabbits, cats, and other animals. Arrange hearts into animals and draw faces. Glue animals on a blank sheet and color in the background with their habitat of trees, grass, and sky. Label each drawing or write children's sentences dictated to you for additional learning.
Editor's note: Grandparents Teach ,Too is a non profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. Writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers.Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan (PAM), Upper Peninsula Association for the Education of Young Children (UPAEYC), Northern Michigan School of Education, U.P. Children's Museum, and NMU Center for Economic Education.