Blending academics and outdoor activity, even in winter

I love being outside in the spring, summer and fall.  When winter arrives, I struggle.  I hate it.  I hate the coats and the runny noses and the chapped faces and the gloves that are so hard to get onto the teeny tiny fingers and the miniscule window of daylight between school and dark that you have to do it all in.  Every fall when it starts to get cool, I promise myself I will keep making an effort to get out as the season progresses.  It’s not that bad, my October self says.  We can get out for a few minutes a day all winter.  It will feel good.  It will lighten our moods.  It will be fun!  Then, every year without fail, true winter sets in and my January self holds up a frozen middle finger at my October self and asks the kids if they want to watch another movie.

BUT, if I actually make the effort and do all the work to get the three kids out the door, even for a few minutes, I do find that my October self, snarky as she is, has a point.  A few weeks ago, I found a way to combine homework with the outdoor time, thereby easing some of that crunch that comes with the after school- snack, homework, dinner, hundreds of other things, bathing, bedtime scenario.

I have one son in Kindergarten and one in second grade.  Since my second grader has a developmental delay, he still needs to work on many of the same words as my Kindergartner.  I quickly wrote the second grader’s weekly spelling words, the Kindergartners sight words and a few words that they would both either know or be able to sound out, on index cards.  For my newly three year old daughter, I focused on letter recognition.  I wrote letters on index cards, since she is the third child and (yikes) does not know all her letters like her brothers did at this age (poor third child!).

DSC03221I grabbed an old basket and some balls from the basement and we headed out the door.  Each child took a turn reading a flash card.  Once they read the word/letter correctly, they took a ball and tried to throw it into the basket.  Simple, but they loved it.  And we were outside!

DSC03194After a few rounds, we changed things up to expend a little more energy.  We moved the basket further away.   The kids read the cards and ran as fast as they could to drop the ball into the basket and return.  This activity could easily be adapted for whatever your child is working on or interested in.  Vocabulary, math facts, animal names, music notes, etc.

DSC03204DSC03207See?  Smiling face.  Spelling and sight word homework done.  Exercise and fresh air for all.

Now a disclaimer.  I think the temperatures were in the 40’s that day.  (For me, anything below 50 is unreasonable) The last few days here have been in the teens and low 20’s.  No amount of nagging from my October self is going to get this bitter January girl out in that kind of craziness.  Movie night anyone?

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