A few minutes outdoors on a cold winter day helps keep the winter blues away

by Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. on January 24, 2013

in Outdoor Play, Winter Time Outdoor Play

I don’t know if it has been as cold where you live, but it has been super cold here. The problem with super cold weather is that it is tempting to just want to keep the kids indoors all day long. The process of helping a group of young children put on all those coats and hats and gloves and boots (depending on how cold it really is) can be a daunting task but in the end, a few minutes outdoors on a cold winter day does help to keep the winter blues away…

Outdoor Play by Teach Preschool

Since the beginning of the school year, we have been working with our students on how to put on their own coats. Most of my students (ages 3 to 5) can now put on their own coats, some of the children can zip up their own zippers, and a few can put on their own gloves.  I am glad we started early on the “coat management process” because it makes the “getting ready to go outside” run a little more smoothly…

Outdoor Play by Teach Preschool

However, if we hadn’t worked on putting on our own coats before now, winter time has a way of helping us make this a priority. I find that by taking the extra time needed to sit down with the children and go step by step on how to put on a coat to be a wonderful use of our time and a great skill for my students to master…

Outdoor Play by Teach Preschool

Even if we only take a quick walk outside or go for a run in our log maze and come right back in, the process of putting on coats and taking them off is an important life skill to spend time on and the time outdoors makes my students feel energized and happy…

Outdoor Play by Teach Preschool

The onset of winter weather also brings new outdoor experiences to explore. For example, we had lots of rain one week then over night the temperature dropped dramatically and every thing froze. On the rainy days, we were able to get outdoors and do a little puddle stomping and writing…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

When the temperature dropped, our trails were now covered with a thin layer of ice.  The children loved crunching up all the ice with their boots and even tried a little “ice skating”…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

And whenever we go outdoors during the winter, the children always find something they want to bring back inside to investigate a little further…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

So we try to find a way to extend our outdoor play by bringing some of our findings back inside like the sheets of ice the children found and collected on the icy trails…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

Our short walk on the icy trails, the collection of ice, and the indoor exploration of the ice led to the rest of our morning together engaged in winter time exploration…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

There are many reasons to take a few minutes and get outdoors during the cold days of winter that far outweigh all the excuses we drum up to stay indoors. I say this to you as much as to myself because I can tend to dread the cold weather but whenever I am in the middle of putting coats on and interacting with my students outdoors, I am reminded how important this time is and suddenly, I don’t feel so terribly cold after all…

Outdoors on a Cold Winter Day by Teach Preschool

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1 Penny January 24, 2013 at 6:05 am

I love the ice sheets. I could just image the fun you could have with them until they melt. If only they didn’t melt so quick huh?

2 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 24, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I know – they do melt quickly but we have been setting new pans of water outside in hopes they will freeze and so far we have had three good days of frozen pans of water to bring inside!

3 JDaniel4's Mom January 24, 2013 at 7:29 am

This looks like so much fun! I bet they loved being outside.

4 Abby @ I Used To Have A Brain January 24, 2013 at 8:14 am

Looks like lots of fun where you are, but where I am here in MN it’s 35 below zero right now (with the wind chill) and unsafe to go out with the kiddos. We can’t wait for the temps to get closer to 20 so we can go out and play!

5 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Absolutely – when the weather is at dangerous levels, we need to be smart about getting outdoors! Can’t wait for some of the warmer weather to head our way too!

6 MaryBeth Darragh January 24, 2013 at 8:17 am

Thank you for the reminder of how much fun and how really important just a few minutes of outdoor time is in the winter! Love your emails!

7 Marcie January 24, 2013 at 9:10 am

A few minutes of outdoor play when it is -28 with the windchill .. . . just isn’t possible (LOL) . . . well it is possible but not practical. However, when it warms up I’ll be taking our little one out to play.

8 Carrie January 24, 2013 at 12:39 pm

That fresh air also helps freshen up the lungs a little too in a time when germs are running rampant. A few minutes to run up and down a hill or take a walk is so good for preschoolers. Once the temp gets dangerous yes stay in, but a couple minutes does so much good

9 Elizabeth Ashton January 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

I have been following your website and daily updates for about 18 months. You have inspired my program in various ways and I thank you for that. I too have home based program in Alberta, Canada. I can accommodate up to six children in each group (3yrs and 4yrs). The program is twice a week for four hours, and in that time frame at least one hour is spent outdoors in all weather conditions (unless the temperature or temp with wind chill reaches a certain level!). If the temperature is -15C (5F) we are out there!

When the weather is very good, we eat our snack and lunch outside. The exploration and discovery of hands on learning with nature, the dialogue, reflection, and adaptation of what was internalized is what is true to my program. We take from nature and bring back to the classroom to weave into the art, drama, imagination, conversation, science, literacy and so on. I live in the middle of a city, and my tiny back yard fortunately opens onto a wide green space with a few small trees (newly built community), and we have access to a storm pond and a creek. We explore nature at every opportunity. For some children in my program, this outdoor time could be the only time they are outdoors in fresh air, exercising, and socializing. They experience rain, snow, wind, sun, heat and cold. Every parent is aware of what is needed for this programming and each child arrives with all that is needed for adventure clothing for outdoor play. All children follow a simple visual picture clues for getting dressed for outdoors. The only assistance I need to provide is an occasional coat zipper. It is part of the “I CAN” do it. They only need less than 10 minutes to be ready to run outdoors. They do it all on their own from getting out to putting it all away.

I am disappointed that you choose not to use the natural outdoor space you have access to at your door step more than you do. For a title of : “A few minutes outdoors on a cold winter day helps keep the winter blues away.” I for one cannot imagine a playschool day to go by without being outdoors for as long as we are. I suppose I have to admit that I am envious of the beautiful nature space you have with mature trees, a forest, leaves on the ground, sticks and stones and dirt and a more temperate climate than I live in. I work with what I have, and although it is not my dream playschool, I have what I have to be content on a successful program.

There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!

10 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 24, 2013 at 3:19 pm

Oh, I wouldn’t read too much into the title of this post. It is really written for those who tend to steer away from going outside. But when the temperature drops so low that it is frigid, we still try and find a way to go outside. Just like I have shown in the post – we are enjoying our environment and value the resources we have in all types of weather.

11 Elizabeth Ashton January 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Oh thank you Deborah!
I suppose I did read too much into your title.
My life and soul survive with nature, just as everyone’s does, but not everyone takes it seriously for the impact of what being outdoors has on everyone!
I do feel for those programs which do not have access to the outdoors as yours does or mine or anyone else who has the chance to. We do what we can, just as you. I didn’t mean ill-will to you, just my heart in the right place to encourage more of the outdoor exploration!

12 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 24, 2013 at 8:31 pm

I admire your passion for the great outdoors! It’s a wonderful quality to have and your students are blessed to have you share that passion with them!

13 Paula in Preschool January 24, 2013 at 1:36 pm

Thank you so much for your many wonderful ideas. I teach Preschool in Washington, DC. We don’t usually get snow here in the winter. My students are 3 and 4 years old and so have not ever seen snow. But I have been reading to them about snow and snowmen. Today we got “lucky” and got about an inch of snow. Thanks to you I was ready for it. It was too cold for the children to go out, so I gathered up enough snow for us to do the snowman in the baggie activity. The kids loved it! And they loved playing with handfuls of snow in the classroom. Thank you for sharing your many ideas and enthusiasm.

14 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 24, 2013 at 3:15 pm

That is awesome Paula! What luck to get just enough snow and to be prepared to make the most of it. The snowman in a baggies is one of my faves!

15 School Sparks Renee January 24, 2013 at 3:37 pm

This is a great reminder, Deborah. It is so tempting to just “skip it” when the temperatures drop. I love your perspective on getting ready to go out. Instead of seeing it as a chore, you see it as an opportunity to learn and hone skills. Thanks for another great blog. Renee

16 marina alvarez January 25, 2013 at 1:17 am

The snow looks beautiful and cold ! I live in the desert in Calif. 2 hrs from the Mexico border .the weather today was 79 degrees. So no jackets and all that good stuff just sweaters.Love your site ! Our snow day will consist of truck loads of shaved ices being brought in . We do what we can, its all about he experience ! So …jackets and gloves here we come!

17 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 26, 2013 at 9:54 am

Awesome – I would love to see a truckload of shaved ice! My students would be sooooo excited!

18 MADRID January 25, 2013 at 4:09 pm

Deborah thank you so much for all your ideas and books recomendations…
You dont know how much you have help us with our two and a half years old!!!
Now she is even doing 24 pieces puzzles all by herself, and that is a lot because of you!!!!
THANK YOU
I´m just sorry that you only give class to children up to five Which advice am I going to folow after you?!!

CONGRANTS

19 Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. January 26, 2013 at 9:53 am

You will be a pro by then and won’t need my guidance anymore:) Wow – 24 pieces!! I think you are already moving past my expertise!!!

20 nancy January 25, 2013 at 10:08 pm

Oh Deborah, here in the cold north we are experiencing minus 40 degree weather! Indoor recess is starting to get very old. I wish we could go out and play with no boots, and hats, but we are hearty Canadians! Love your blog.

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