Beyond Snowmen: Winter Boredom Busters:
Five Ideas for Playing in the Snow
By Elissa R. Peterson
Our family of three kids who range in age from
preschool to early grade school in Northern Ohio spends a lot of our
winter outside playing in the snow. By the time February rolls around,
the kids are totally over playing in the snow. It feels like they’ve
done everything there is to do. They’re tired of sledding, snowmen
building, and all that same old stuff they always do. So this
homeschooling Mama has an arsenal full of fun ways to encourage the
children to get outdoors and away from the television.
In Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls
Wilder, Laura and her sister Mary made soft, chewy snow candy with fresh
fallen snow and maple syrup. As a family, we decided to recreate the
experience with our own snow and some different types of syrup, just to
see which kind worked the best. We tried imitation maple syrup, homemade
simple fruit syrup (made from boiled fruit, sugar, and water) and
natural blueberry syrup. Each type of syrup yielded a different product,
and the kids enjoyed sampling each creation as we made it.
Did you know that you can make ice cream from
snow? Say it isn’t so. That’s the last thing my hips need before bathing
suit season. Sure enough. Here’s the recipe:
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
bowl of snow (about 3 quarts)
in extras to taste. We recommend mashed banana and raisins.
Blend in milk, sugar and vanilla. Stir in enough
snow to make the concoction to ice cream consistency.
Nothing says serenity
like a quiet trek through the woods after a new snowfall. The snow-laden
trees are magical, and there are a multitude of wildlife tracks to
discover. Both aspects are thrilling to a Nature-loving Mama like me,
but only amused my kids for about five minutes.
If your kids are anything like mine,
after a few reverent moments of slogging through deep snow they’re ready
be done with their Nature lesson and ready for something else. Never
fear, there are more adventures lurking in that snowy park.
a bucket along and collect all the icicles you can find. Then at the end
of your hike use them to make a sculpture or leave a message.
Did you look for any fallen trees to jump off of?
If there isn’t a mound of snow within jumping distance of that tree, get
If your park has a picnic shelter, pack some dry
materials to start a fire with. Dust the snow off the barbeque grill and
build yourself a winter campfire. Don’t forget the hot chocolate and
What could enhance an afternoon of snow play
better than adding a little color to your creations? Try experimenting
with different types of paint. In the past we’ve used water-based,
nontoxic craft paint (watered down) and natural food dyes. Which work
better? Give your kids the opportunity to learn about making their own
natural paints and dyes and see which they prefer.
You should also experiment with different types
of painting tools. Pull out your big brushes, little brushes, spray
bottles, squirt guns, and eyedroppers. Give your child access to a
variety of tools and see what he can create. Depending on his age and
developmental stage, he may be interested in using the color for a
specific purpose, such as to enhance his latest snow fort, or perhaps
he’s more interested in experimenting with technique. Don’t worry if
your little one just wants to paint everything in sight; it’ll wash off.
There are plenty of books and websites devoted to
snow sculpture. Go ahead and Google it. A quick scan of some of the
images revealed some rather stunning masterpieces. World leaders, comic
book heroes, and famous landmarks, oh my. While I’m not quite that
artistically inclined (and frankly, neither is my littlest one) that
doesn’t mean we have to settle for the same old thing.
Include natural elements in your creations.
Before the snow comes go out and stock up on pinecones, pebbles,
feathers, seed pods, and other natural elements from your environment to
enhance your sculpture.
Got sand toys? Dust them off and use them in your
creative process. If you don’t have sand toys, recycled items make a
pretty good substitute. Butter tubs work well, so does Tupperware. Got
any milk jugs waiting to go out? Cut those in half and put them to good
What about adding ice to your creations? I like
to take recyclable items of all shapes and sizes and fill them up with
water the night before and leave them out in the snow. (My little ones
love to be involved in this process.) In the morning, we have all sorts
of frozen blocks to build and create with. To add interest, sometimes
I’ll put a little bit of food coloring in the water so they have colored
blocks to build with. Other times I’ll freeze stuff inside the blocks.
Natural items work well – leaves, seeds etc. I’ve also been known to add
sticks and toothpicks to our ice blocks. My kids think they look like
hair. These ice blocks can be used for building, stacking, or
embellishing the creations your youngster has made from snow.
With a mind set for exploration and creativity, a
rather mundane and dreary late winter day can be transformed into an
opportunity to create a magical environment for learning and exploring
the natural world around us. Take the time to go out and inspire your
little one to create something new, you’ll be amazed by just how much
your child will end up inspiring you.
Elissa Peterson is a busy homeschooling mama with
a degree in education from Kent State University. She is passionate
about all things creative, and goes to great lengths to foster a
creative learning environment for her children. Read about the crazy
schemes she dreams up to keep her children away from the television on