Archive for January, 2014

5 Offbeat Activities to Do in the Snow

January 29th, 2014 by

Around this time of year, winter has worn out its welcome. The novelty of snow and hot chocolate and fires in the fireplace can wear off pretty quickly, and your kids may be getting bored of the same old winter games, too. That’s why we’ve put together this list of offbeat activities your kids can do to mix things up and keep active during the next few inches of snowfall.

1. Snowsuit hula hooping

Who says you can’t have a luau in the middle of winter? Zip up your snowsuits, lace up your boots, and grab some hula hoops from the garage. There’s no fancy trick to this one—just hula hoop as usual and see how different it is when you and your kids are all suited up and standing in a few inches of snow!

2. Make colorful snow art

Your kids can bring some color to the white winter landscape—all it takes is a little food coloring from your kitchen. Dilute the food coloring with a little water, and then dribble it across the snow to create fun designs fun designs like flowers, trees, zigzags, or words. You could even make a colored hopscotch board—and double the fun.

3. Create snow animal sculptures

You’ve probably built enough snowmen this season. Why not make some snow animals? Your kids can use snow to sculpt dogs, cats, snakes, and more. Challenge older kids to figure out how to design the animals so they don’t collapse. Then do a scavenger hunt to find sticks, pine needles, and rocks to decorate the animals. What names will you give your new pets?

4. Make snow castles

Who says all of that beach gear has to stay packed away this winter? Your kids can spend a solid afternoon creating the ultimate snow fortress with the buckets and pails you use to make sandcastles in the summer. Moats, lookout towers, and bridges are all fair game, whether made of sand or snow.

5. Enjoy some snowy ice cream

Eating ice cream may not be high on your list of things to do this winter, but it might be more appealing if you can make it out of the snow in your back yard. Check out these easy recipes for snow ice cream that require only a few ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen.

Even though some days it seems like winter will never be over, there are endless possibilities for fun in the snow. We hope you have fun trying our ideas when the snow starts piling up on the ground. Know some creative play ideas for the snow? Let us know in the comments!

4 Ways to Engage Your Kids’ Minds This Winter

January 15th, 2014 by

This winter’s historically cold weather makes it hard to enjoy the outdoors at all, let alone as much as your kids would like to play. It can be easy for your kids to turn to TV and video games to stay occupied and warm. Finding activities that are both stimulating and not frostbite-inducing can be an extra challenge this time of year. That’s why we’ve put together a list of fun things you can do with your kids this winter that are fun, warm—and stimulate their minds. Browse the options below, and if your kids are pent up inside with a case of the wiggles, try these family-friendly ideas for keeping active indoors.

1. Make pinecone bird feeders

Using only what you find in your yard and home, you and your kids can make pinecone bird feeders for all of the feathered friends trying to keep warm outside this winter. Bundle up and collect a few pinecones with spread out scales in your yard or the local park. Then, once you’re back inside, smear peanut butter on the scales and sprinkle or roll birdseed onto the peanut butter.  Your kids will have a blast covering the scales—just make sure to put a covering or plate on your work surface so you have an easy clean up!

Next, tie a string or ribbon onto the top of the pinecone, and bundle up again to pick a tree to hang the new bird feeder. To add on to the activity, have your kids identify the types of birds in your yard—and what birdseed they like best. Your kids can even make several different feeders for the different types of birds.

2. Go to the museum

Going to the museum may sound like a drag to the kids, but just about any museum can offer a load of fun. Consider an afternoon browsing paintings and sculptures in an art museum, and ask about any free family activities (many art museums offer them). Nothing for families on the day you go? Don’t let that stop you—play a game in which you challenge yourselves to make up stories about a work of art. What might the statue say if she could talk? What does she do for fun? If the gallery permits, take along a sketchpad and spend some time drawing what you see.

If your kids like to explore with their hands, a science museum might be just the ticket. Most science museums offer interactive exhibits that kids can touch, from hair-raising static electricity demos to distribute your weight evenly on a “beds of nails.” The best part? Kids learn a ton about science—and have a blast.

Stuck inside because of a snow day with bad roads? Many museums have online activities and games that your kids can play from the comfort of your home. For example, the Smithsonian has tons of options for online enrichment—one of them is bound to please your kid!

3. Go to the library

While your public library is a fantastic resource for checking out books and more, it’s also a resource for free, fun programming geared toward your kids. Most public libraries have events during the day and at night for kids of all ages, from crafts to story telling and more. It might even work out that when you drop your kids off for their activities, there might be something going on for adults, too!

4. Play board games that work your mental muscles

When you can’t leave your house, break out the board games for some fun mental stimulation. Many card and board games are actually great for your brain, but your kids probably won’t realize it because they’re having fun. Uno, Bingo, Connect Four, Scrabble, Checkers, Chess, Monopoly—you probably have a few of these games lying around, and they’re all perfect for a cold snowy day because they engage your child’s memory, develop strategic thinking, and build math and reading skills. Most can be customized to be easier or harder, depending on your child’s age.

So the next time temperatures drop and your kids start getting antsy, try one of these activities to keep your kids occupied and mentally stimulated. Soon enough, winter will be over. Until then, enjoy all of the fun you can have inside!