Contributed by Info Guru Lindsay Shugerman
They’re coming. You know they are. Those long, chilly days when the snow is falling, roads are blocked and schools are closed. The snow day. Now it’s just you and the kids.
Yes, snow days can be fun. Sometimes. But after two or three of them, it’s hard to not scream when you hear that “School is cancelled” announcement. I understand. I have three kids…and lived through a lot of snow days. Don’t despair! There are things to do with kids on snow days that can make them something all of you enjoy. Here are some of my best tried-and-true ideas for snow bound survival.
10. Art without an agenda
One of the best parts about snow days has been our time playing with art supplies. So often kids’ art comes with an agenda: paint this, draw that, make one of these. But on snow days, just throw a plastic tablecloth on the kitchen table (or kitchen floor), pull out the art supplies and let them create. No instructions to follow, just kid-driven creativity. I discovered that when the rules went away, they would create for hours!
(Prep: Stock up all year on washable paints, markers, clay, bits of fabric, feathers, pipe cleaners and whatever else you find. Keep it handy for quick pull-out on snow days.)
9. A special book
Save special books to read (or reread) only on snow days. After the first couple of snow day reads, the kids started to ask for their favorites every day we were snowed in!
Prep: Thoughout the year, look for interesting chapter books or picture books to add to my snow-day stash. Also, keep a few family-favorites there for rereads.)
8. Forbidden snacks
In my house, sugary snacks and salty munchies are never in my pantry. We snack on veggies, fruit and nuts instead. But when we were trapped in the house on winter days, my secret stash of forbidden foods would suddenly appear. We would munch while we sat by the window and watched the snow fall or after we came in from some snowman building time.
Prep: Buy some of your kids’ favorite junk foods when snow season gets close. You can order tins of rich cookies or flavored popcorn to make the snacking even more fun.
7. Snow cream
When the snow is thick on the ground, head outside with the kids to gather bowls of snow for snow cream. Do wait until the snow has been falling for awhile so it’s clean…and avoid any areas where people or animals have walked. Bring the bowls inside and mix with milk, maple syrup and a dash of vanilla. Eat the sweet, candied snow cream with spears of dill pickles for a traditional Vermont treat.
Prep: Make sure you have milk, sugar, vanilla and pure maple syrup on hand before the next snow day. (And pickles, if you choose!)
6. Movie stash
You’re probably starting to see that a big part of being prepared for snow days is hiding things away for when you need them. And that’s true about the snow day movies, too. Keep some new films and some old favorites like classic Disney films out of sight until you need them for snow day distraction.
Prep: Stock up on movies when you see them on sale. When the snow is on its way, make sure you have a fully charged laptop so movie day can go on even if the power goes out!
5. Scavenger hunt
An in-the-house scavenger hunt is a fun way to spend a day indoors with kids. If your kids are small, keep the list short and use pictures instead of words. For older kids, a longer list and more challenging items to find will keep them engaged. You can even use riddles for some of the clues if you have tweens or teens in the house.
Prep: Well before snow season, make up your scavenger list. Buy some small toys to use as prizes at the end of the hunt. (A prize for everyone who plays is probably a good idea if you have little ones. The last thing you need on a snow day is a sobbing child!)
4. Milk bottle bowling
It can be hard to burn off energy indoors, especially if the snow lasts for several days. Safe indoor games like milk bottle bowling can help. Stand up empty, clean milk bottles at one end of a room or hallway, and let the kids “bowl” with a foam ball.
Prep: Save and wash translucent half gallon milk bottles. Once dry, glue the lids in place. You can leave them as they are, or enlist the kids to help you decorate them with paint, paper and glue. Buy a Nerf ball or similar foam ball. Store your bowling set where it’s easy to get to on a snow day.
3. Have a Lego contest
Spread out a large sheet or tablecloth on the floor and dump all your Lego blocks onto it. Take turns deciding what everyone needs to build..a bird, a dog, a zoo animal, a truck, a food, then let everyone start building. (It’s even more fun if you play, too!) Take pictures of everyone’s creations. When you’re done, clean up is easy because everything is on the sheet!
Prep: Buy Legos that aren’t in model sets. You get more blocks for your money, and your kids can build from their creativity instead of a set of directions. Keep an old sheet or table cloth with the Legos for easy clean up.
2. Cook or bake
When you’re trapped in the house, what could be better than filling the house with delicious smells…and then eating what you and your kids make? It doesn’t have to be complicated. Slice off cookies can work almost as well as those made from scratch. A big pot of homemade vegetable soup tastes as good as a gourmet meal. Keep it simple and have fun with your kids in the kitchen.
Prep: Keep ingredients on hand for simple baking and cooking, especially if snow is in the forecast.
1. Go out and play
Yes, it’s cold. And yes, getting the kids into their snowsuits is a pain. But there is just something about building snowmen, making snow angels or just throwing snow up in the air that makes memories to last a life time.
Prep: Have snow boots, snow suits, parkas and other winter gear ready and waiting. And use it!
The sbow will eventually go away. Make sure when it does you’re left with fun memories of snow days spent together with your kids.