By Sarah Gorvin, contributor
It’s no secret that area students missed quite a few days of classes last month due to cold weather. The Red Wing School District calendar originally called for 20 school days in January, but five were canceled in the wake of frigid temps. That’s 25 percent, if you do the math.
With so many unexpected days off, local educators say it’s important to keep little ones busy doing something at least partially educational during their time at home.
“Then when they come back, they’re ready to go as well,” said Sunnyside Elementary School first-grade teacher Megan Damman.
“If they sit in front of the TV all day, they’re not ready to jump back in,” Sunnyside Principal Patti Roberts added.
Students are back in school now, but with the winter Minnesota and Wisconsin have had so far, there’s really no telling what February and March might bring. With the help of Damman and Roberts, we’ve compiled a list of indoor activities you can do with your elementary students the next time classes are called off.
“You can make the academics fun, where they think they’re not doing schoolwork: things that entertain them, but also help get them ready (to come back),” Damman said.
Developing fine motor skills is especially important for younger students, Roberts said. She suggests having kids organize and sort small objects or clean their rooms. These tasks can also help children start to recognize patterns, she said.
Working on gross motor skills can be difficult when dangerous wind chills keep everyone cooped up inside. But Roberts said it’s not impossible. Activities as simple as doing jumping jacks and crawling across the floor will get little ones up and moving around.
“Just don’t sit in one spot all day long,” Roberts said.
There are quite a few indoor activities that involve math: board games, rolling dice and card games to name just a few.
Damman also suggested grabbing a handful of pocket change and having kids count it or letting children make their own math flash cards.
Roberts said baking and cooking are especially good activities because they’re interactive and involve not only math and counting but also fine motor skills and direction following.
“It’s also fun,” she said.
Reading and writing
Setting aside a few minutes to read is something students should already be doing, Damman said.
But she added a few other fun snow day suggestions: have kids write out their spelling words in shaving cream or have them write their own silly story.
“If possible, have some interaction with other children,” Roberts said. An activity like a play date with a neighbor child will help students continue developing their social and interactive skills even when they can’t see their classmates.
If that’s impossible, Roberts suggested simply having a conversation with your student, exchanging questions and answers.
“Just talk with them,” she said.