Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fun Outdoor Winter Snow Games for a Family With Kids

Outdoor Winter Fun With the Kids © Katrena
Kids often excitedly anticipate that all-important announcement that school will be delayed or cancelled when the weather gets a bit frosty and the roads are deemed too hazardous for school traffic. We live in the South, so just a small amount of snow will often produce quite a bit of conversation in these parts!

Winter Games for the Family © Katrena
When the yard is covered in a blanket of snow, my kids cannot wait to go outside! I think that's great because often the white stuff is gone within hours or just a few days at our home, and we might as well make the most of it while it lasts. The dust and dirty dishes can wait, and Facebook and email won't implode while the family goes outside to enjoy nature for a while.

Creative Ways to Have Fun in the Snow © Katrena
Before Going Out in the Snow

I remember putting bread bags on over my shoes and securing them with a rubber band and putting socks on my hands on snow days when I was a kid. It worked, so if you get caught off guard with an unexpected snow and not a lot of snow gear, sometimes a little improvising can do the trick. Avoid unsafe situations and carefully supervise youngsters in the snow and ensure that everyone goes inside to warm up at proper intervals. Adults who aren't used to exercising should be especially careful when running or shoveling in the snow.

Snow Day Boredom Busters © Katrena
In case you want to prepare when the meteorologists start calling for snow, it helps to have warm outer wear, like boots, a hat that covers the ears and/or scarf, gloves (preferably waterproof), and several layers. I've found some great deals on snow suits at consignment and thrift shops – they can make it so much more comfortable if staying outside for any length of time. Kids often grow quickly, so it is helpful to check to ensure that boots still fit. I like to store gloves inside of the hats so that they are easier to find, which is very helpful if three kids are busting to get outdoors!

Tips for Enjoying Snow Days © Katrena
Charge up batteries for digital media such as a camera, video camera, cell phone, etc. ahead of time. It also helps to have supplies like a sled and items for making a snowman ready in case those winter weather predictions become reality. Set out a bowl as the snow begins if planning to make snow cream and prepare for power outages with extra food, batteries, and other supplies.

How to Make a Snow Angel © Katrena
Fun Ideas for Playing in the Snow

Kids have a way of creating their own fun, so often they will make it easy and simply play and enjoy the moment. Those can make some of the best memories and it can be great fun to simply watch the kids being creative and imaginative.

Encourage Creativity in the Snow © Katrena
The following are just a few simple ideas for having family fun in the snow:
  • Do a good deed for a neighbor or a simple random act of kindness.
  • Look for "hidden treasures" like animal tracks or animals playing or hiding in the snow.
  • Go sledding – you might be able to improvise by pulling a plastic tarp, cardboard box, or large trash can lid if a sled is not available.
  • Make a snowman – it doesn't have to be big.
  • Make other snow creatures, a fort, a castle, or other 3D snow art forms.
  • Have a relay race before placing each item on a snowman or other snow creature. 
  • Have a snowball fight, play catch, or find other safe targets for the snowballs.
  • Make snow angels.
  • Write messages or draw pictures in the snow with your finger, a stick, or with footprints.
  • Use sticks and other objects to create shapes and letters on top of the snow for the kids to identify.
  • Feed the birds and other animals.
  • Play "I Spy."
  • Go for a family walk.
  • Play follow the leader while doing wild and crazy things with your arms and/or legs.
  • Play tug of war with a snow wall in the middle.
  • Play "Simon Says" with a snow twist (make a snowball, find an icicle, write a snow message, etc.).
  • Go on an Easter egg hunt (this was one of my kids' ideas that turned out to be pretty unique and fun).
  • Play hide and go seek – this can be a lot more challenging after dark.
  • Have a scavenger hunt – place written clues in ziplock bags so they won't become wet.
  • Have the kids solve a riddle to get to the next "station" in the yard.
  • Make pictures and videos – these can be fun to watch later after everyone warms up inside.
Make a Snow Castle © Katrena
I recently taught group exercise for some kids at an elementary school. They had a two-hour delay and I asked if everyone got a chance to play and exercise in the snow. Some kids sadly shook their heads and said they weren't allowed for one reason or another while others excitedly told of simple snow adventures that put a sparkle in their eyes.

How to Save Snow Memories © Katrena
Although I sometimes dread the clean-up in the house afterward and might prefer to be snuggled under a nice warm blanket, I hope that the extra effort to go outside and act silly with the kids will be special moments they will cherish forever. I know I will. And if you just have to save the snowman in the freezer, hopefully there will be just enough room for the little guy!

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