Paint the yard.
Fill several spray bottles with water, add different shades of food coloring to each, and shake. Then turn your snow-covered lawn into a brilliant canvas. (Or buy a Sno-Paint kit for $16.95 at hearthsong.com)
Examine snow up close.
Catch some falling flakes on a piece of chilled dark cloth or construction paper. Then use a magnifying glass to discover whether it's true that no two crystals are alike.
- Organize a scavenger hunt.
Hand each child a checklist with a dozen objects to look for, such as pinecones, acorns, seed pods, twigs, and cattails. Give the winner a special treat (but make sure each participant gets a small prize).
- Hunt for animal tracks.
Check out a field guide from the library, and see how many prints you can identify. If you live in an urban area, let your children fashion their own creature tracks, using spoons and other household utensils. The neighbors will think you've had some unusual visitors.
- Build a snow family.
Even snow people need companionship, so why stop at one? Make a mommy, daddy, and smaller-size snow kids. Add hats, scarves, even eyeglasses so each one resembles a member of your own household.
- Construct a fortress.
Use the edge of a shovel to shape packed snow into bricks that your kids can stack to form a wall. (For firmer bricks, spray snow with water and let set for several hours.) Fill a pail to add turrets, and top the structure with a piece of material attached to a stick to represent a flag.
- Host a winter barbecue.
Crank up the stereo, fire up the grill, and invite some friends over for hot dogs, burgers, and toasted marshmallows. Judge a snow-sculpture competition, and set up a bucket for a snowball-throwing accuracy contest.
- Make ice candles.
Fill a bowl with water and float a tin can, weighted with rocks, in the center. Place outside on a flat surface until frozen. Pour warm water into the can (to loosen) and remove it. Remove the large block of ice from the bowl by setting the bowl in warm water. Place a candle in the hole, and light it at dusk to give your yard a wintry glow.
- Blow bubbles.
Chill a container of soapy water in the refrigerator, then try to blow it away on a freezing cold day. Your kids will be surprised to see how long the bubbles take to pop.
- Feed the birds.
Cut a small hole near the top of several slices of bread, toast them, run a piece of string through each, and tie around trees or bushes. Extra birdie bonus: Spread on peanut butter and dip the toast in a plate of birdseed.
Copyright © 2005. Reprinted with permission from the February 2005 issue of Parents magazine.