It’s an annual ritual. Every time winter rolls around, we review the seasonal checklist of snow and cold necessities. Snow boots? Check. Ice scraper? Check. Sidewalk salt and shovel? Check and check.
That said, there’s always the occasional winter storm that cannot be reckoned with by any amount of worldly tools or careful preparation. These are the storms that trigger the magical winter phenomenon revered by school children everywhere . . . the snow day. While snow days bring glee and smiles to every kid under 18, they sometimes bring a small amount of panic to their parents. A school cancellation can send moms and dads scrambling to find a babysitter, or activities to keep the little ones occupied during an unexpected day off.
While we may not be able to help with a sitter, we have put together a list of classic snow day activities to keep kids entertained both indoors and out. So, whether you’re looking to embrace the winter wonderland around you or keep the kids warm and cozy inside, the list below will help you prepare for the next time your schedule gets snowed-in.
Make a Fort
Building a fort is a fun way for kids to take advantage of all the extra snow. Grab your best snow shovel and a couple of smaller ones for the kiddos (beach pails and spades work well), and start by making a large snow pile — just be sure it’s a good distance from the road or driveway. Next, start carving a hole on the side of the pile until the cavity is large enough for the kids to enter. If you’re looking to upgrade their fort this year, try using empty tupperware containers as molds to construct snow bricks. When the fort is complete, grab their favorite water-resistant toys and let them play in their newly-crafted wintry hideout.
If the wind and snow is feeling a bit much, try bringing the fort indoors. Grab all your best pillows, couch cushions, sheets, and chairs and help the kids build their own living room bungalow. Hang sheets from one chair to another and craft walls from couch cushions and pillows. Bring flashlights and books inside for a snow day story time, or grab some popcorn and a tablet and stream their favorite movie for a mini home-theater experience.
Admire the Snowflakes
Though classes may be cancelled, there’s no reason you can’t throw on the ‘ole lab coat (i.e. parka) and have a little science lesson at home. And what better way to enjoy the science of snow than to examine the details of each snowflake? First, take a black cloth and put it in the freezer for one to two hours. Next, take the cloth and a magnifying glass outside and wait for a snowflake to fall on the cloth’s surface. When a snowflake lands, let your kids get a closer look with the magnifying glass and help them record their field notes in a notebook, just like a real scientist. Ask kids to compare and contrast each snowflake, describing the shapes they see and counting their sides. They’ll be delighted to find out that no two snowflakes are quite the same, though all have six sides.
If Mother Nature’s making the outdoors unbearable, try making your own (room temperature) snow storm inside. All you will need are a few round coffee filters, a pair of scissors, string, and a roll of tape to make your own unique paper snow storm. Fold the coffee filter in half three times and help children cut shapes into the sides of each one. Unfold each and hang them by string and tape from the ceiling. Top it off by sipping a cup of cocoa beneath your indoor blizzard.
Build a Snowman
By age 5 or 6, most kiddos are well-seasoned in the art of crafting snowmen, but it’s likely they’ll still need a little help from mom or dad to make it happen. Find a carrot, a few black buttons or stones, 2 sticks, and a hat to bring their snowman vision to life. For a little added fun, try to make a snow person for each member of the family — don’t forget the pets!
If your kids aren’t quite feeling the wintry weather, try making a snowman-inspired snack indoors. What you’ll need: 3 large marshmallows, 5 chocolate chips, 1 piece of candy corn, 2 pretzel sticks, and white frosting. First, place a thin layer of frosting on the top of 2 marshmallows. Next, stack the marshmallows on top of one another by securing each frosting-laden side to a side without frosting. Third, insert the pretzel sticks into each side of the middle marshmallow for the arms. Finally, use tiny dabs of frosting to secure the chocolate chips onto the snowman for buttons and eyes, and finish it all off with a candy corn nose.
There’s no telling what winter weather Mother Nature has up her sleeves. Maybe your schedule will be unscathed by frost or snow (fingers crossed). But if heavy snow and ice have you waking up to a snow day, we hope that this small list of activities will help you and your little ones greet the time off with a smile.