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Old 02-10-2004, 09:18 PM
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Snow activities for kids

Are your kids bouncing off the walls looking for something to do during the cold, winter months? Bundle them up and turn them loose outdoors! If you have some fun snow activities planned the kids will play and play, and maybe youíll all enjoy the snow.

Snowmen: Everyone knows about building snowmen, but maybe you didnít know about some variations on the age-old theme. Dress your snowmen (and women) in Halloween costumes or old clothing. Use drops of food coloring to make colorful streaks through the snowmanís sparkly flesh. Have contests to see who can make their snowman look most like the president, a favorite teacher, or Mom or Dad.

Snow Turtles (or Owls or Alligators, Etc.): Create a wintertime zoo out of snow. You can sculpt just about anything out of snow with a little creativity. Start with turtles because a round mound is less frustrating than a complicated animal (such as a porcupine).

Tracks: Lots of kids like to run across a field of freshly fallen snow just to see their tracks. Put a twist on this activity by having your kids create animal tracks. Check a field guide out of the library and let them study what different animal tracks look like. Then they can use different tools (wooden spoons, spades, empty spools, or whatever you have around the house) to recreate the tracks on your lawn. They might be able to trick neighbors into thinking a deer has run across their lawn.

Snow Fort: This activity is so fun and so involved that you may have to remind your kids to take a break to warm up inside before finishing. I recall staying outside until after dark on a freezing night as a child because I was so involved with my snow fort. Snow fort building is more satisfying than sand castle building because the snow holds its shape better. Use the same principles as with sand castle building. Find big containers (paint buckets are great) to fill with snow. Then empty them upside down. Thatís your basic building unit. The walls can grow very tall, so remember this activity when you have a giant snowfall, the kind that keeps everyone home for the day. Snow forts can get very elaborate; kids will make tunnels from fort to fort if they donít run out of time or snow.

Snowflake Catching: Snowflake catching is perfect for those gentle snowfalls with great big flakes. Donít try it when a blizzard is blowing snow almost horizontally or your kids will run headlong into a tree with their mouths wide open. Not fun. Hereís how it works: Look up into the sky. As soon as you can decipher individual snowflakes, focus on one and follow it with your eyes as it floats down to the ground. Then catch it on your tongue. Itís fun to watch kids play this game because they look so funny staring at the sky, wandering back and forth with their tongues sticking out.

These snow activities are a springboard to the world of fun snow play. As you and your kids play these games, variations on each will develop, depending on the interests of those involved. So go ahead and bundle them up from head to toe, and donít forget to have a good supply of hot cocoa on hand for when you come back inside.

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