Take a Sled Ride

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This was the final activity I had hoped to do with Veronika before she turned one year old, but we never had the chance because in her first year we had… No snow! Well, at thirteen months, she now has two feet of snow out the window, and loved getting bundled into her snowsuit for the first time.

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Gentle sled rides are a new and exciting feeling. I sat her down on a small plastic one and simply glided her across the snow. If you’re going to go downhill, make sure you sit with your child and hold him or her firmly!

She seemed so intrigued by the novel motion. When we came to a stop, I pulled out a few sticks to show her how to write in the snow. She eagerly grabbed for one and gave it a try.

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Don’t worry if those curious fingers feel at the snow for a brief moment; it will be a  completely novel sensory experience, and then you can head right inside to warm up rosy fingers and cheeks!

If you live some place that never receives snow, consider a sled ride over sand instead! Then you can demonstrate writing in the sand with a stick instead.

How to… Build a Snow Fort

 

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It’s only the third day of December and Travis is on the second snow day off from school. That meant we had to test out Highlights magazine’s tips for making the best snow fort!

Highlights recommended first delineating an area for your fort with a stick. We used a shovel instead, making a big square on our patio and then mounding up the walls to give us a base.

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To make bricks for the walls, fill a rectangular container with snow. Drizzle with a little water, than add a final layer of snow on top.

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Depending on the consistency of your snowfall, you may or may not need that extra water. We soon found that we did not – today anyway! Continue building until you have several layers of “bricks”.

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We even tried adding windows.

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Simply twist an empty soup can to drill a little peephole.

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Even more fun was adding food color to a spritz bottle; now we could decorate our fort’s walls with art (though I wish Travis hadn’t opted for orange!).

 

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Travis loved being in charge of the “moat”, shoveling a long path away from our fort.

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And we even armed ourselves with ammo, in case enemies (i.e. neighborhood friends) happened to storm the castle!

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Don’t forget a side door to sneak out of! What special activities to you do on a snow day off from school? Please share in the comment!

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Snow Skeeball

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Finally! It took until March for us to receive our first real snowfall of the season, and we were so ready to play. Last weekend we were indoors at an arcade, so today we decided to replicate one of our favorite games in snowy form.

I fashioned a ramp out of the snow, making it lower at the bottom, and higher up top – good thing we had perfectly packable snow.

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We wedged three buckets into the snow at intervals, and then I handed Travis a few golf balls.

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Time to toss! We decided the first bucket was worth 1 point, the second was 2 points, and the third was 3. We even had tickets to use from a pretend-play carnival game!

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The game was admittedly hard – next time we’d use bigger buckets. (Note: we’d also use colored balls, for rather obvious reasons!).

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So here’s hoping for one more storm before spring. We’ll be out there playing skeeball… or should I say “ski ball”?

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Green Time: Play in the Snow

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We’ve been so eager for a snowfall so we could get to our second installment of outdoor play suggestions from Ranger Rick Jr. Last night we got our wish – only about three inches, but because I doubt we’ll have much more snow this winter, we took advantage of it!

The first thing we had to do was test out the sled we bought but haven’t had a chance to use. There’s a tiny hill just off our apartment, and Travis enjoyed a few mini runs down it.

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Whoops, but as you can tell, he was not a fan lying down to try out a snow angel next.

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Making a small snowman was a bigger hit…

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…as was building a snow fort. Based on the magazine’s image, we used a bucket to build the fort, which worked so well! Although we didn’t have enough snow to build our walls up high, this is definitely how we’ll fashion future forts.

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Meanwhile, I loved that these suggestions got us out into crisp morning sunshine to make first tracks in the snow – especially since it had all melted by afternoon!

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How Much Water Is in Snow?

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Here’s a super-simple experiment for the next time it snows. It combines a whole host of scientific ideas, from talking about liquid vs. frozen states of matter to making a hypothesis.

First, we needed to fill a clear glass jar with snow. For the best results, make sure to tamp the snow down so your jar is truly filled all the way.

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We took the jar inside and measured the snow (15 cm) and made guesses as to how much water would be left once it melted, keeping in mind past lessons on how ice takes up more space than water.

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Travis guessed really low, at 2 cm! I chose 5 cm to keep things interesting. I tried marking our guesses directly on the jar, but since it was still a little wet, we found that masking tape worked better.

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Next we needed to be scientific and record our results. We took measurements at one hour intervals over the next three hours with the following results:

3.27 pm – 15 cm

4.27 pm – 12 cm

5.27 pm – 7 cm

6.27 pm – 4 cm – all water!

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It was neat to see that it took a full 3 hours, as well. Next time, we’d make hypotheses about the timing as well, and record that at the start.

Snowy Road

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You’ll be the coolest mom or dad on the block if you give this simple twist to outdoor snow play: give your kids permission to bring their toy cars outside to join the fun! Travis was hesitant to venture into the cold, so I headed out first with a shovel and made a road in the snow. Once he saw what I was up to, he couldn’t resist.

He was very into the process of making the road itself, and started to shovel his own route next to the one I had created before he even turned his attention to the cars. Let your civil engineers take over the road building, too, if they prefer!

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We found that this game works best with bigger toy cars; little ones get bogged down in the snow.

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The best vehicle was our big dump truck, which of course had the added benefit that we could load it with snow…

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…zoom it to the dump, and then unload.

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What’s your favorite novel way to play in the snow? Let us know in the comments!

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Snow Ice Cream

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My mother recently reminded me of this activity from my own childhood, the process of taking fresh-fallen snow and turning it into a marvelous melty cupful of snow ice cream. I couldn’t wait for the next snowy day to share it with my son!

To start, we needed to collect snow of course. Make sure you head out when it’s first tracks and the snow has just fallen glistening from the sky – otherwise you’re not going to want to eat it.

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My “recipe” here is in exact, and you’ll want to vary the amounts according to taste. We took our full cup of snow inside and saturated the top with almond milk until it was a bit slushy. Next we stirred in about 1 and 1/2 teaspoons maple syrup.

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Travis didn’t stop until he reached the bottom of the cup!

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Expanding Snowman

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We’ve been waiting for a snowy day around here, because snow always lends itself to exciting winter games and science experiments. With leftover Alka-Seltzer tablets on hand, I had plans for exactly how we could use the snow this time around.

First, I drew a snowman’s face for Travis on a plastic bag. Note to self: next time use a sharpie! We had some inky orange and black hands later on…

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Next we needed to collect fresh-fallen snow into our bag. Make sure you fill your bag almost to capacity with snow, or this experiment won’t work. We learned by trial and error!

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Now drop in two Alka-seltzer tablets and seal the bag. You may want to place it on a towel, just in case the bag bursts…

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Over the course of about an hour, we checked on the bag. The tablets slowly release gas that will make your snowman puff up more and more and more.

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Here’s Travis poking a bag filled mostly with gas and leftover slush by the end.

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I think the process would be even better if I had left the bag outside, so the snow didn’t melt simultaneously as the gas expanded – whoops!

The whole thing takes a while, of course, because the tablets react very slowly with freezing cold water. Because he grew impatient as we waited, I filled a second bag with hot water from the tap and we dropped in a few Alka-Seltzer.

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They immediately fizzed and the bag puffed up with gas, and we talked about why the reaction happened so much faster in the heat.

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Can’t wait for the next snowfall and the chance for more snowy games! What do you do with your kiddos to take advantage of a snow day? Please share in the comments!

Snow Globes

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Our snowy themed indoor fun continues, as negative wind chills are still keeping us mostly indoors. These snow globes didn’t turn out as pretty as the kind you’d buy in a store, but we enjoyed making them!

First, you’ll need to arrange little figures or miniatures, and glue to the lid of a mason jar. We had fun sorting through cute bird-themed figures we had at home, which looked great when we affixed them (I used hot glue, a grown-up step).

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Next time though, I would use something taller, since these didn’t really stick far up enough into our swirling “snow.” But more on that later.

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Help your child pour water into the mason jars until they are almost full. Then it’s time for the secret ingredient: vegetable glycerin. Travis loved the goopy texture. Add 1 teaspoon to each mason jar.

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Finally, we needed to add snow…. glitter that is! Don’t overdo it, or you won’t really be able to see your figures in the jar. We might have been a little too heavy-fisted.

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Now give them a shake to create a beautiful indoor snowfall! These would make great gifts if you want to save the idea for the holidays.

 

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Here it is snowing on our little birdhouse:

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Indoor Snow Play

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Baby it’s cold outside! When the kids want to play out in the snow but the temperatures are hovering near zero, do the opposite: Bring the snow inside! If nothing else, the novelty of this idea is sure to delight any little ones feeling cabin fever.

First, we braved the cold for just a few minutes to shovel up snow, filling a few large plastic bins. Travis loves his child-sized shovel, and would happily have stayed outside longer if I let him.

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Inside, set down your snow on towels to contain any drips.

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Waterproof mittens are a definite plus…

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… although Travis decided he liked using his regular mittens best.

Now just have fun with the snow! Fist we made snowy roads for his cars to drive down.

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By far his favorite activity was stirring together a snow soup. I gave him little odds and ends from our craft bin, such as blue stones, buttons, and sparkly pom poms.

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You can’t have indoor snow play without adding some glitter.

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Finally, we made a little indoor snowman! The snow wasn’t the right texture for perfect snowman building, so two tiers was the best we could do. We decided he looked more like a Snowfrog, and put him outside on the patio where he won’t melt.

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Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2018, hopefully with warmer weather to come soon!