By Lauren Conway, M.A. & Brian M. Yankouski, Ed.S., BCBA

Behavioral and Educational Solutions and Training of NJ, LLC (BEST NJ, LLC)

Keeping the kids occupied during winter break or on a snowy day can be challenging. Below are activities that can be done at home or in the community which are geared specifically for children with special needs. During an activity watch your child’s level of engagement and excitement. If they are showing unwanted behaviors or signs of boredom, it might be time to terminate the activity. Remember it is important to try and end an activity on a positive note!

At Home:

  • Cook/bake a favorite recipe- this activity can be expanded by having your child help choose a recipe, create a shopping list, and going to the store to buy ingredients.
  • Sensory-based activities:
    • Shaving cream-put a small amount of on surface that you do not mind getting a little messy
    • Bubbles in the bathtub or sink for fun water play
    • Finger paints
    • Modeling sand
    • Play dough
  • Make hot chocolate- involve your child by having them participate in mixing the ingredients and selecting any special toppings (i.e. marshmallows, whipped cream).You can create a visual support for your child with pictures to show them the steps in making this recipe.
  • Build a fort with blankets and pillows- pretend its indoor camping and take out flash lights
  • Schedule a play date- some kids may need additional help to socialize with his/her peers so encourage an older sibling to get involved.
  • Arts and crafts- have your child pick out some fun arts and crafts activities that they may enjoy, such as making bracelets, creating picture frames, etc.
  • Board games and cards- this will depend on your child’s skill set. Choose a game you know your child can follow the rules/concept easily and select a preferred game that you know your child would enjoy.

In the Community:

  • Look for different holiday light shows in your area.
  • Sensory-friendly movies or theater performances that are geared specifically for children who have sensory aversions can be a great outing in the community.Contact your local theaters to see if they offer these options.
  • Trampoline (jump) centers are a great way for your child to get out some of their physical energy and to be out of the house.
  • Check for local day camps (particularly winter recess from school)
  • Visit the local library as many libraries have kids’ corner hours where they can listen to a story and take out a favorite book.
  • Visit your gym for indoor swimming or rock wall climbing (some may offer a day pass or trial membership).
  • Ice skating can be a fun outing with your child.Contact local ice skating rinks to see if they have any adaptive programs or small classes that your child can participate in.
  • Paint/pottery studios- there are lots of kid friendly locations that have inexpensive premade pieces that you and your child can enjoy.

From our agency, Behavioral and Educational Solutions and Training of NJ, LLC (BEST NJ, LLC), we hope that families find these ideas useful in being able to occupy any downtime with their child during the various winter breaks from school.  If our staff can be of any assistance to you and your family for behavioral needs, please feel free to email us at or visit our website for more information at