If your kids are like most, school snow closings are the highlight of the winter season. Get into the spirit with some of these fun outdoor activities. After you’ve expended your energy outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors as well.
Outdoor Winter Frolic
Take a snowshoe hike
Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family, and go on a trek through the woods or a field. Take your compass. But also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities.
Visit an ice sculpture show
Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks, and indoor arenas. Check with your local and nearby chamber of commerce or state travel bureau for events listings.
Visit a zoo
During the winter months, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits are easier to view because of smaller crowds.
Build an igloo or snow fort
Choose a day when the snow is suitable for packing. Use a square or rectangular container for building snow forts, which are often found in toy departments. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support.
Take a winter carriage ride
Look for horse-drawn carriages in tourist or trendy towns and quaint villages. Bundle up, and take warm blankets and hot beverages. Then enjoy a cozy ride through a snowy, festive town.
Enjoy a winter fest
Visit your chamber of commerce or state travel bureau website for a list of winter festivals and events. Activities to look for include light displays, fireworks, winter sports competitions, recreational activities, exhibits and ice sculpture displays, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and more.
If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down them. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.
Make an ice tree
Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, turn it into a winter display. Stand it in your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect.
Have a snow-sculpting contest, and invite your neighbors to participate
Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it
with your hands again.
Indoor Activities For Blustery Days
Head to a museum
Most cities, even small towns, have a historical museum. Hands-on science, art, or natural history museums are found in most metropolitan areas or at nearby universities.
Grab your roller blades or skates and head to your nearby indoor rink
These arenas are updated for today’s kids and are a blast for parents and kids alike. If you’ve never roller-skated, take a class at the rink.
Create an indoor snow family
Buy black and white clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons from whole pepper, and noses from broken orange-colored toothpicks.
Tour a manufacturing plant
Tours are often available to the public even if they aren’t well-publicized. Just call to find out.
View the winter sky
Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year.
Hold a winter movie fest
Invite friends over, rent a selection of movies, and have everyone bring their pillows or beanbag chairs. Don’t forget the buttery popcorn and hot chocolate. If you’ve had enough of winter, hold a Hawaiian luau instead. Choose summery or vacation themed movies. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don’t forget the beach towels.
Make up funny skits with friends then put on a show for parents and neighbors
Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Be sure to videotape the skits for hilarious family memories.
Put together a winter emergency kit
Include spare hats, mittens, scarves, and boots, a flashlight, and other items in case you get stranded. Your home kit should include items for a snow-in or power loss. Have everyone work together to create a list and gather items for the kits.
String a snowflake streamer
Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes then string them on a piece of yarn, and hang it across the room.
Visit the library to snuggle up for a relaxing read
When you arrive, learn how and where to find books on your interests such as sports, science, or a hobby. Then choose several books to bring home. Don’t forget to check out music CDs, audiobooks, videos, computer games, and magazines for plenty of indoor entertainment.
Getaway at a weekend resort
Check your travel agency for one of the many winter resorts for outdoor enthusiasts that offer activities and accommodations for the whole family. Try downhill or cross country skiing, snowshoe excursions, and more.
Make a winter-safety trivia game
Buy a pack of small index cards. Then write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.
Kimberly Blaker is a freelance writer. She also owns an online store, Sage Rare & Collectible Books, specializing in out-of-print, scarce, signed, and first editions and fine bindings at sagerarebooks.com