Indoor Winter Play

Build Flexibility and Strength

By: Jeannine Moyer, Physical Therapist
You don’t need to go out in the cold to enjoy winter activities, just use a little imagination for an indoor snow day!

Cotton Balls are a Great Alternative to Snow

pediatric phyiscal therapy winter activityStart your snow day with two or three bags of cotton balls.  Pretend cotton balls are snow, gather a “ball” in your hand.  Throw the cotton balls forward to work on aiming at a target as well practicing a forward toss. Scoop them up in your hands and throw them into the sky this activity of throwing up works on upper body flexibility and balance.  Doing this over and over, squatting and bending to collect them will also build leg strength and endurance.

You and your little one can pick the cotton balls up and put them into a basket or another container.   Dump the cotton balls into a pile, this uses trunk rotation as well as lateral flexion and crossing midline. Run through the pile kicking your feet.  Your child will be building motor coordination as well as leg strength having fun playing in the “snow”.

Everyone Enjoys a Safe Snow Ball Fight!
What is more fun than throwing a snow ball?  Roll a variety of size socks into many balls and have a blast throwing them to each other.  Get creative and hide behind furniture, or a door.  Build a fort out of couch cushions and see who wins.  This incorporates many movements that help develop body awareness, motor planning and ball play.

Ice Skating – No Skates Needed!
pediatric phyiscal therapy winter activityIce Skating fun starts by placing feet on paper plates/wax paper.  Skating works best on smooth carpet or smooth hard floor.  With your and your child’s feet on plate/paper move forward as if skating.  Play with a variety of directions move forward, sideways, in figure 8’s and backward.

Skating’s smooth movements provide an opportunity for motor planning, balance, and body awareness.  This action especially strengthens the lower trunk and hips.   Incorporate skating races will automatically help children with running and coordination of their arms  Everyone enjoys doing figures eights.  Place two obstacles (such as ottomans, pillows, chairs) four feet apart and do figure eights around and them.  Figure eights promote motor planning and knowing where your body is in space. 

Indoor Sledding
How about some sledding fun!  Place child seated on a blanket and pull them on the sled.  This builds sitting balance and equilibrium responses incorporating trunk rotation.  As a child moves about they are learning postural control mechanisms.  Create a slight hill using pillows and pull the sled down the hill.  This enhances the righting reactions for balance.

A miniature sled can be created, have your child use a pillow case and a stuffed animal so they can pull the sled.  As your child pulls, they are working on upper body and core strength.  A variety of walking skills will be used such as walking backward, sideways and pulling the “sled” behind them.

Experimenting with these activities can provide hours of great winter time fun!