NDSU Extension - Morton County


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December 11, 2017 Winter a Time for Learning & Fun

Dates to Remember

Dec. 14                         SCD Board Meeting, 9:30 USDA Building, Mandan
Dec. 28                         Rube Goldberg Challenge, Morton County Courthouse
Jan. 2                           My First Business:  Babysitting, Morton County Courthouse
Jan. 8                           I-29 Moo University - Baymont Inn & Suites, Mandan
Jan. 8                           4-H Archery Workouts Begin, Nishu Bowman, Bismarck
Jan. 20                         Parents Forever, Mandan

Winter – A Time for Learning and Fun

When I was growing up snow days were filled with excitement, warmth, and activities. Since my mom was a teacher, she was always creating and encouraging opportunities for learning in our play. As we all know, North Dakota’s winter weather tends to keep us indoors. However, there are lots of opportunities for continued learning for the children in your life. Children look to the caring adults in their lives to teach them almost everything, including the adventure of discovery and the joy of lifelong learning. Here are some activities to help children of all ages enjoy learning:

  • Toddlers and preschoolers like imitation and physical movement, so set up a simple obstacle course. Go through it yourself, then invite the kids to join you. Make up a story that goes with the course. (Think over the river and through the woods, an adventure to follow!). Use sounds or songs as you make your way through the course. Add colors, numbers, letters, language, or whatever other skill your child is working on at that stage. For more information about early child development stages, contact your local Parent and Family Resource Center for a booklet or other resources.
  • Elementary-age kids also need physical activity. Even going outside for a short while will make a big difference. Putting on all those layers of winter clothing is good exercise. Add in those skill-building moments of zipping coats, tying boots, and you have a great learning opportunity. For indoor activities, yoga is a perfect way to get calm and stretch at the same time. If your child has learned yoga in school, let them take the lead. If not, connect with teachers, go online or find another local resource that has basic yoga moves/information.
  • Middle school students are all about those social connections. This is a great time to pull out photo albums – physical, tangible photos might amaze them. Tell stories, point out family members or friends, and enjoy the time connecting and conversing with your children.
  • Remember with children of all ages to be the reader you want your kids to be. With your older children, make a no-screen zone or a time of day. Have everyone pull out a book or magazine they are interested in. Sharing reading lists or comparing thoughts allows your child to practice critical thinking and discussion skills. It is a big bonus you will also have time to connect with your child. Try reading a book or series and then renting the movie after to discuss which you enjoyed more and why.

Another important piece to remember as winter blows in is safety while playing both inside and outside. Here are some of the top tips for keeping safe this winter:

  • Home safety includes checking your carbon monoxide on every level of the home, especially near sleeping areas.
  • Keep infant sleeping areas free of stuffed animals and extra blankets. If you’re worried about keeping them warm, try using a sleep sack. This will keep them warm without getting overheated or creating hazards in their crib.
  • Review the home fire escape plan with all your children. Remember, kids are used to school fire drills so they will be ready and able to handle one at home. Talk about at least two exit strategies, a meeting place, and what to do after leaving the home (i.e., go to a specific neighbor’s house, calling 911, etc.).
  • While you are reviewing your exit plans, be sure to check that snow isn’t blocking windows, doors, or ventilation systems.
  • If you have little ones in car seats, be sure to review safety information. Bulky winter coats and car seats do not mix. The bulk creates space between the child and straps that will compress during a crash, creating a loose harness. Instead, lay the jacket over the child or use a blanket once the child is safely strapped in. You can always keep a hat and mittens on without them getting in the way of the safety straps.
  • Kids enjoying outdoor winter fun should always be dressed appropriate for staying warm as well as safe. Proper gear such as helmets while skiing or playing hockey should be used every time.
  • Stay hydrated! We forget to remind our kids and ourselves to drink plenty of water especially when playing and exercising outside. Children are at a higher risk of dehydration, so be sure to have some water breaks while building those snow forts.

Winter fun both in and out of the house are great opportunities for learning and connecting with children. Enjoy the holiday season and the extra hours or moments it may bring with the children in your life. We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday season.

For more ideas on keeping kids busy this season, check the NDSU Extension website www.ag.ndsu.edu  or follow us on Facebook @NDSUExtensionPRCRegion7 



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