Winter Weekend Activities for Adults and Children with Special Needs

For parents of young people with special needs weekends can be overwhelming and exhausting. Without the structure provided by school and clubs during the week, the two free days of the weekend can be tricky for some families. To avoid difficult weekends, it’s important to create a schedule of engaging and fun activities, however, finding appropriate activities can be difficult.

To help the winter weekends, with kids or adults with special needs, go more smoothly, try these activities below.

1. Snow Play – Building a snowman, making snow angels or snow painting can be fun ways to help your child or adult with special needs gain some sensory play in the winter. Make snowballs, but instead of a fight (which can be difficult for fearful for some), aim to hit stationary objects and targets. If there’s no snow out, try your nearest indoor ski centre.

2. Indoor Snowman – Winter activities tend to revolve around snow, which is difficult to plan for. Indoor Snowmen to the rescue! Gather a large box or plastic container; 2 boxes of cornstarch; 1 can of foam shaving cream. Dump the cornstarch into the box, add the shaving cream (you’ll use most of the can), and let your child mash it all together until it forms a crumbly mixture that you can shape into balls (add more shaving cream if it’s too dry to stick together). Make a snowman and decorate it with buttons, sticks, leaves, ribbons, or other materials from around the house. You can re-use the “indoor snow” indefinitely if you use a box with a lid of some kind.

3. Cosy Fort!–With a little bit of forethought, you can put together a fort kit with old sheets, blankets, pillows, rope, cardboard, clothes pegs, and such. Plan to serve a snack, and make books, games, sensory bins, colouring materials, or perhaps an iPad readily available for hours of playtime fun in a cosy, soft blanket fort.

4. S’more Fun – If you have a larger garden space, you can build a winter bonfire in the backyard and roast s’mores. This can also be a great social interaction if you invite neighbours, family, school friends, or other friends over to enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening.

5. Obstacle Courses –Obstacle courses can be set up either indoors or outdoors, making them a versatile winter weekend activity. Outside, make tunnels in the snow, create paths to follow with visible markers, or set up a section of snow to shovel out of the way. Inside, connect rows of chairs for crawling under, ottomans to climb over, and “lava floors” (blankets on the floor that you can’t touch). Obstacles create opportunities to develop motor skills, translate sensory observations into resulting actions, and provide hours of learning fun.

Club Hub has a great search tool of clubs, classes and activities for special needs and disabled children.