Stir Crazy Kids: How to Stay Active this Winter

By: Laura Bueche, Occupational Therapist


Oh the weather outside is frightful, and we are going crazy indoors. Just because there is snow and ice on the ground, does not mean your child’s arousal level is any lower.  On the contrary, it’s probably reaching a boiling point and you are looking for ways to get your kids the sensory stimulation and gross motor activity their little bodies are craving.

Getting your kids up and moving has a lot of benefits. The Department of Agriculture’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that children and adolescents engage in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity on most days of the week, preferably daily. As an occupational therapist, I love physical activity because of the regulating aspects of proprioceptive input*, as well as development of coordination skills and strengthening opportunities.

*Proprioceptive input are sensations from joints, muscles and connective tissues that underlie body awareness. Input can be obtained by lifting, pushing, and pulling heavy objects, including one’s own weight. For example, climbing on a jungle gym, swinging across monkey bars, or pulling a wagon.

15_Brady PembrokeWhy is it helpful? Providing your child with more proprioceptive input throughout the day can help them:

  • Tolerate sensations and situations that are challenging
  • Regulate emotions, alertness and increase attention span
  • Reduce unwanted sensory seeking and sensory avoiding behaviors
  • Handle transitions with less stress (

For more information about sensory processing check out the post, How Sensitive is Too Sensitive?

In these bitter winter months, it is difficult to get your kids the physical
activity they need. Here are just a few ideas for indoor activities to give you and your family a much-needed break from being stuck at home.

Ideas for Local Indoor Activities

Ideas if You Can’t Leave the House

There is a crazy blizzard outside, what can I do with what I have at home? Here are some ideas to get kids some movement breaks when stuck indoors:

  • Build a furniture fort by pushing and pulling furniture and cushions from around the house.
  • Make an obstacle course by army crawling, jumping and doing jumping jacks to get to the finish line in record time.
  • The floor is hot lava! We all know this favorite.
  • Animal walk relay races: bear walk, crab walk, wheelbarrow, and penguin waddle across the room to roll the die of a board game or get stickers for a craft project.
  • Jump and crash into a pillow pile or onto the bed.
  • Jump rope with rhymes and songs.
  • Squeeze, squish, and smash Play-Doh.
  • Use a scooter, tricycle, or scooter board to propel through the house.
  • Squish your kids in a pillow pile; making sandwiches.
  • Swing your toddler in a blanket between you and another adult.
  • Push a vacuum or mop, collect the garbage, wipe down the table, load the laundry, and push the laundry basket.Cooper

Winter on Wheels: 10 Tips for Keeping Warm in a Wheelchair

Fun hats help too!

Guest Blogger: Sharon Pike, Parent Liaison

I don’t think any of us enjoyed the recent burst of arctic temperatures.  Having a child in a wheelchair makes it all that more difficult to keep them warm and comfortable – and comfort is the key!

Here are a few ideas and resources to help you survive what is left of this winter.

  1. Dress in layers.
  2. Stay hydrated.
    When you become dehydrated cold sets in more quickly, so encourage your kiddo to drink a bit more.
  3. Avoid bulky coats.
    This is really important if your child sits in a car seat because bulky coats keep the straps from fitting correctly. Try thinner layers, blankets, or car seat covers that don’t go between the child and their seat.
  4. Adapt your child’s coat.
    Make a vertical slit up the back of the coat so you can  slip it on from the front and tuck it in around them.  Depending on the coat you may want to take it to the tailor so they can finish the cut side and keep it from unraveling.
  5. Try a poncho.
    Look into buying a poncho that can be thrown right over the chair.  You could also enlist a friend with sewing skills or try out this no-sew version that could be enlarged to cover a wheelchair.

    No-Sew Fleece Poncho
  6. Keep your cell phone charged or have a car charger.
    You don’t want to be caught in severe weather with a dead phone.
  7. Keep your gas tank full!
    My dad used to say, “’E’ doesn’t mean enough!”
  8. Create a winter survival kit for your car.
    Include water, non-perishable food and extra blankets!
  9. Keep their legs covered with a blanket.
    The fleece ones work well or you could use a Snuggie.
  10. Stock up on hand and toe warmers.
    These are great when mittens and boots are too much of a struggle.  Just be careful that they don’t get too warm for your child to tolerate.

Here are a few links some parents have found helpful.

Adaptations by Adrian
Adaptive clothing for wheelchair users and person with physical disabilities which make dressing difficult.

Koolway Sports
Helping to maintain the quality of living for people in motion


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