The cold winter months can make it difficult for many of our kids to get the input their body needs throughout the day. Sometimes it is too cold to go outside, or when we can, sometimes we just don’t know what to do. This post provides some fun outdoor winter activities that can provide your kids with the proprioceptive input their body needs to take on any challenge that comes their way.
But what is proprioceptive input and why is it important? Proprioceptive input can be safely achieved through resistive activities that provide ‘heavy work’ such as pushing, pulling, and carrying. Proprioception is the sensory information from the joints and the muscles that tells our brains where our body is in space. This input can be very organizing, calming, and can improve focus for most kids (and adults).
Here are some of our favorite outdoor winter activities that can provide organizing proprioceptive input – and are fun.
1. Building a snow fort or maze
- Picking up and moving the snow to build a fort or maze can provide great input to your muscles and joints. How tall can you make your fort? How big can you make your maze? Build walls and paths to create a fort for an epic snowball fight!
- Shoveling is awesome heavy work for your body. And come on, who says chores can’t be fun? Turn it into a competition or a game to make it more interactive. How much snow can you clear from the driveway? How high can you build a snow pile?
3. Bury your legs or someone else’s in the snow
- How does it feel when your legs and arms are buried? Piling the snow onto your limbs can provide an intense amount of deep pressure touch for your body that can be calming and organizing. Just make sure you can dig your way out after!
4. Pull someone/snowballs in a sled
- Not only is this fun, it is great input for your body How fast can you pull the sled? Can you navigate through obstacles without crashing?
5. Nature snow walk
- This is a great way to incorporate many sensory systems. Take in the sights, sounds, and smells of nature while trekking through the trails. Want to incorporate a bit more direct proprioceptive on your walk? Challenge your kids to see how hard they can stomp or how deep they can make their footprints.
6. Build a snowman
- We all love to create a winter friend, but what our kids don’t realize is how good this activity is for their brain and their body. How long can you roll the snowball for? How big can you make it? Don’t forget the buttons, carrot, sticks, and scarf!
7. Make snow angels
- This activity is great to help our kids understand their body in space and works on coordination and timing. How many times can you flap your wings? Can you move them slow and then fast? Can you move them to a beat?
8. Build a snow pile and jump in it
- What is more fun than crashing into a giant pile of snow? This activity is so simple, but so effective to give our kids lots of proprioceptive and deep pressure touch input for their body. How high can you build the pile? How high can you jump into it? Bonus: Have your kids help create the snow pile by shoveling or scooping snow.
9. Carry a bucket of snow
- Carrying weighted items is a great way to provide proprioceptive input to your joints – but don’t forget to make it fun. You can turn the snow carry into a challenge or an obstacle course. Check out our Winter Heavy Work handout to guide your outdoor adventures. Hang it on your fridge in the winter months and let your kids choose the activities.
Why are these activities helpful?
- They regulate our sensory system and provide a calming response.
- Improves body awareness.
- They strengthen our muscles.
- They improve motor planning skills.
- They allow us to be creative with play.
- It’s outdoors and free!
Try out these activities and let us know which are your favorites. When trying to motivate your kids to engage in some of these outdoor activities, using simple “How” or “I wonder” questions/thoughts can help empower kids to try, engage, and succeed! We hope this helps you and your family have a fun-filled winter!
Hi, I am an occupational therapist at South Shore Therapies. I love seeing children’s confidence increase as they work towards their individualized goals in a safe and fun environment. Our mission with SST’s social media platform is to empower, educate and inspire families to take on life’s challenges while promoting an optimistic outlook and a brighter future. If you want to read more about us, visit www.southshoretherapies.com.