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It’s FREEZING outside! Here are some of the Best Outdoor Play for Gross Motor Support in COLD WEATHER!

Best Outdoor Play for Gross Motor Support in COLD WEATHER

We are in the heart of winter and depending on where you live, snow, cold temps, and early sunset Is all around us. During this time, we often think of staying indoors, but fresh air and physical activity is still so important for all ages. We asked our therapists for some ideas regarding the best outdoor play activities which support gross motor development. Emma Hill and Anne Furguson came up with some of these great ideas!

Some ideas our physical therapists have put together for Best Outdoor Play for Gross Motor Support in COLD WEATHER:

  1. Making snow angels .
  2. Climbing snow mountains.
  3. Making small snowballs and throwing them.
  4. Building a snowman (rolling large snowballs).
  5. Log rolling.
  6. Sledding.
  7. Shoveling snow.
  8. Simply walking through the snow builds strength and balance. 
  9. Crawling through the snow or crawling up snow mounds builds coordination and strength (great sensory experience as well).

As fun as this can be, getting dressed in lots of layers is not every child’s favorite. Some sensory strategies and tips for getting through these colder months:

  1. Try to stick with soft/breathable clothing.
  2. Have your child help pick out the clothes, prepare them for the process (pictures/story about getting ready for going outside, chart or checklist with pictures of all the items).  
  3. Try using plastic bags over 1 pair of socks, then another pair of socks over the bag to avoid risk of feet feeling wet.
  4. Target has an adaptive line of coats with no tags, different zipper locations for easy medical access and easy dressing.
  5. Earmuffs may be better tolerated than hats and function closer to headphones that kids may already be accustomed to.
  6. Boots are heavier than typical and can function much like ankle weights to improve body awareness when walking.
  7. Billy Footwear makes snow boots with zippers specially designed to fit orthotics.
  8. Cover walker wheels or ends of crutches with plastic bags to make them “snow proof”.

When temperatures are too cold or if preferring to stay inside on these cold days, there are a lot of gross motor “Winter” ideas that can be done indoors to still promote physical development:

  1. “Snow ball” fights with pretend snow balls (works on ball skills, agility, balance, coordination). Can also use cotton balls.
  2. Obstacle courses.
  3. Pretend to do a penguin run using pillows as mountains and icebergs, slides, ball pit as the ocean, etc (this will focus on agility, balance, coordination, motor planning, global strength).
  4. Play tunnels to promote crawling in both ambulatory and non-ambulatory kids for bilateral coordination and strength.
  5. Keepy Uppy with a balloon (make it more fun by pretending to be characters such as Bluey and Bingo, increase the challenge by adding obstacles to navigate around or try standing on a pillow while playing.

If you have any questions or if you’re interested in scheduling a consultation with our talented staff of experts, please feel free to call us at 312-480-7433.  Also, as a reminder, the new year means health insurance changes so if you have any questions regarding how your 2024 services might affect your insurance, or if you need to communicate insurance changes to us, please contact us as soon as possible.

We look forward to seeing you soon!