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10 Snow Day Activities  

Jan 03rd, 2023 | by Liz Farsi, PT, DPT

Liz Farsi, PT, DPT

January 03rd, 2023

The snow can be a great therapy tool if you don’t mind a little bit of cold.  Think about the last time you trudged through newly fallen snow, and how the surface and snow gear boost the requirements to move. Snow can add resistance, balance challenges, a soft place to fall, and for our cold NAPA locations, a whole lot of fun. Here are a few ideas to get everyone involved in the winter activities. 

1. Sled Boarding Balance

Place or help your child get onto sled (saucer or inner tube is ideal) on a flat spot in the snow.   If needed, place a non-stick cloth (like a cabinet liner) between the sled and the child to avoid slipping.  Move the sled side-to-side, forward and backward, and/or in circular fashion.  You can vary the speed and abruptness of the “stop” when changing direction.  Try in any position based on their goals: 

  • On tummy, propped on elbows: works on head control and upper extremity strength and weight bearing 
  • Hands and knees: works on head control, core strength, and upper extremity strength and weight bearing  
  • Sitting: works on head and trunk control and sitting balance reactions 
  • Kneeling or half kneeling (one flat foot, one on knee): works on glute strength, pelvic stability, and trunk control 
  • Standing: works on trunk control and upright balance reactions 

2. “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”

Snowman building steps and what they can help with: 

  • Gathering snow: squatting to gather snow, bilateral coordination to pack snow together, lower extremity strength and coordination to roll the snowball into a big snowman ball 
  • Building the body: full body strengthening to squat and lift and place in position, assisting as needed; balance with a heavy object 
  • Place eyes, nose, arms, hat, etc.: balance while reaching, hand-eye coordination, core engagement.  You can even add the head to the body after the corn-cob pipe and button nose have been added if sitting balance is one of your child’s goals.  

3. Snow Colors

Draw a hopscotch path, a balance beam line, targets to step across or jumping/hopping path with these snow markers. We grab ours from Amazon!  The snow creates a natural added challenge with a more unpredictable surface to stand and walk on. Deeper snow creates more resistance for added strengthening, and not to mention the extra weight and bulk of that snow suit and boots! 

4. Snowball Fight!

This can be done in just about any position including supported sitting, standing, or on the run, all of which will challenge a child’s balance, postural reactions and core and upper extremity strength.  When throwing a snowball (or any object), the child’s center of gravity will change based on their arm movement.  In order to avoid making a person-shaped dent in the snow, the child has to utilize their postural muscles to stay upright in both throwing and avoiding snowballs! (Can be used in combination with #10 to use as a standing support). 

5. Skiing

There are several adaptive skiing programs near our snowy NAPA clinics: 

Denver:   

Boston:  

Chicago: 

6. Ice Skating

Did you know that most skating rinks will let you drive or push a wheelchair on their rinks with an accompanying adult?  Check out this picture of Miles cruising along the rink with his family. 

And some locations have “helpers” (like this pictured penguin) for those who need just a little help for balance.  BONUS: it’s easier to skate while pushing a wheelchair!  

7. Sledding

Check out this great adaptation from NAPA mom, Melissa, with a Splashy seat bungeed tight onto a sled:

Or an inflatable boat or inner tube can work great in the lying or supported sitting position with or without a partner. 

BONUS: Most of them come with a towing rope which is a great workout for the human reindeer, AKA mom or dad.

8. Christmas Lights Viewing

Walking or strolling along your local Santa Clause Lane, Botanical Gardens or Zoo Lights can be a great way to enjoy the lights of the holiday season with the whole family. Many locations keep their paths paved and snow/ice free so that they can be enjoyed by foot or while being pushed on wheels. 

For another option, consider a carrier like the Kinderpack. The child size can hold a child up to 85 lbs. (BONUS: great in the summer for hiking too.) 

9. Snow Angels

Find a nice patch of fluffy snow and help your child lie down on their back.  Help as needed to move their arms and legs in Snow Angel fashion!  Works on bilateral coordination, upper and lower extremity strength with snow as resistance. 

10. Build a Snow Fort

This is a personal favorite, bringing me back to my childhood growing up in snowy Idaho. You can even use a bread (loaf) pan as a mold for your snow bricks.  If you and your kids’ building skills are nice and steady, you can use it for working on the following: 

  • A standing surface to hold to work on standing balance, endurance, and independence. 
  • A surface to hold onto while transitioning into standing to work on lower extremity strengthening and functional independence. 
  • Place a chair (or large snowball) behind it and use it to practice sit-to-stands during a snowball fight or a game of peek-a-boo.   


Meet the Author 

Liz Farsi, PT Manager NAPA Denver

Liz loves all things outdoors including soccer! Raising two boys in Denver, she is quite accustomed to snow days.  

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