Ten Fun Fall and Winter Activities for Kids with Special Needs

I love Fall and winter. There is just something about the holidays that makes me feel alive. There are so many fun activities and events in fall and winter that I just don’t know where to start. Every year my children and I have a blast coming up with new things to do during the holiday break. From playing in the leaves and the snow to hay rides and gift making we all stay very busy and happy this time of year. Here are a few of our favorite activities:

Window Painting

– When the frost begins to form on the windows my daughter loves to draw pictures in it. She watches as the water droplets swirl across her painting. Well, we have come up with a way to allow her to window paint year round. I take a large plastic baggie, gallon sized, and place a couple dollops of paint inside it. It can be one color or two; it doesn’t seem to matter to her. I then seal it well and tape it shut for extra protection. Taping it to the window at eye level, I let her paint to her heart’s content. This also works well on tables too and makes for a fun, mess free painting experience.

Boy playing in dry leaves - Ten Fun Fall and Winter Activities for Kids with Special NeedsSensory Leaves

– When the Fall comes and the leaves start piling up I know I will have to pull out my rake, but I don’t mind. My kids love to play in the piles of leaves I rake up and I have such a fun time watching them and sometimes diving in too. Since I rake regularly the leaves are not wet or dirty or filled with bugs. Instead they are crunchy and make for a great sensory activity. My kids love to crunch, crumble and roll in the leaves. We sometimes make crafts with the leaves as well. Tracing leaf imprints, preserving leaves and even painting leaves makes for a fun craft project that is fitting for the season.

Sensory Snow

– When the wind starts to blow and the snow comes falling down I can always count on some chilly sensory play time. From making snowballs to snow men to forts and more we always have fun in the snow. We also like to do experiments with the snow and ice. Making balloon snow marbles is fun and easy. Just fill a balloon with colored water and let it freeze outside. Then pop the balloon and you have a beautiful snow marble! My kids also love to see who can find the biggest icicle or make the biggest snowman. It can get cold, but we warm up from time to time and then get right back out there!

Snow Painting

– Another fun snow time activity is snow painting. How often do you get to squirt out your paintings? Only in the snow! Fill squirt bottles (like mustard or ketchup) with water colored with food coloring. Make it dark so it shows up bright against the snow. Then let kids squirt out their art. Lots of fun and requires motor skill practice!

Fort Building

– A fun indoor activity that will keep kids busy and happy is fort building. My kids love to build all kinds of forts inside. They use couch cushions, sheets and whatever else they can find to make their own little cozy spaces. Two chairs with a sheet stretched between them is enough to make a fun fort or club house for a child. Serve them a snack picnic and a good book and they can stay happy for hours.

Family cooking together - Ten Fun Fall and Winter Activities for Kids with Special NeedsCreative Cooking

– Cooking for the holidays is often a stressful event. You have so much going on that it seems like the last thing you want to do is involve your kids. However getting your kids involved is a great way to keep them busy, having fun, and helping out. One easy thing my kids enjoy making is coated pretzels. We get the white almond bark and melt it and then dip pretzels for a fun holiday snack. Add come colorful sprinkles suiting the season and it is a perfect appetizer, dessert, or gift. The kids love to get their fingers sticky and get dipping. The bark melts at a very cool temperature so it does not hurt their fingers and they can have fun making a bunch before they get tired of playing with their food.

Decorating for Festivities

– Another fun holiday activity involves helping with decorations. My kids love to help me decorate the house for the holidays. They are so proud to announce their contribution to the décor. From coloring paper garlands to stringing popcorn and cranberries, there is always something they can do to help out. Fine motor skills are practiced by stringing small items to wind around the Christmas tree. Colorful hand turkeys are great for the dining room table centerpiece. Handmade ornaments make great gifts too!

Hayrides

– A fun Fall tradition in my family is to go on a hayride. A farm near our home has these set up every year and the kids love to bump along the dirt roads and watch the horses in awe. Slow and steady is the name of the game, but the kids never get bored with so many new sights and smells. We arrive at a barn full of hay and they have a great time playing in the loose hay and winding around the kid friendly hay maze. Pet some farm animals and make a day of it!

Pumpkin Decorating

– We also go pumpkin picking while we are at the farm. With acres of pumpkins to choose from it is hard for my kids to decide which ones will be theirs. Each child gets to choose one pumpkin, big or small, as long as they can carry it. They get to look for unusual shapes, spot differences, and learn decision making skills. Then after we get it home we have a day of decorating the pumpkins. Instead of carving them we use markers to paint on silly faces and add glitter, yarn hair, and other decorations for a festive look we call all be involved in. After the holidays we take the pumpkins and plant them so we can harvest our own next year! We usually don’t get very much, but the kids get to see where plants come from.

baking - Ten Fun Fall and Winter Activities for Kids with Special NeedsHomemade Gifts

–Since we don’t have a lot of money I have always made gifts for my family members. In order to teach my kids to think of others they have started to make their own gifts too. It does not have to be complex and each child chooses which gift they will make. My daughter loves to make braided bracelets and will choose special colors for each person on her list. My son makes clay sculptures and has even made tie-dye shirts for his gifts. Each gift is tailor made for the person which helps my kids to think about what another person would like and what would make them happy. Through making their own gifts my kids not only practiced motor skills but they also learned to be thoughtful and empathetic of others. Even small children can make simple pasta necklaces, fun wind chimes, or tasty treats to give away to friends and family members.

As you can see, there are tons of fun activities in fall and winter for special needs children. It doesn’t matter what level your children are at, you can find something fun and creative to do together. Help them to grow both mentally and physically and create great memories together in the process. Make the holidays a special time for everyone and get active!

Author Bio:

Ken holds a master’s in business leadership from Upper Iowa University and multiple bachelor degrees from Grand View College.  As president of  morningsidenannies.com, Ken’s focus is helping Houston-based parents find the right childcare provider for their family. When he isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his three children and his wife.

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