I remember when I was growing up in New York. My brother, mom, and I would wish for snow days every winter. Despite the weatherman’s prediction of a potential dusting of snow, we’d hope for a full-blown snowstorm that would drop several inches on our small town.
Many people have snow-day superstitions that they hope will bring on the wintery weather. These include wearing pajamas inside out and backward, putting an ice cube in the toilet, and putting a spoon under the pillow. But that’s not how my family rolls. We literally made up our very own song and dance! While it was not technically advanced (we just repeated “Snow day! Snow day! Snow day!” while doing the Cabbage Patch dance), it was our tradition for wishing that we could have just one of those coveted days. To be honest, we kept this tradition when we moved to Texas (good luck, right?), and I took it with me as a teacher, too! Old habits die hard, I guess.
So in the event that you’re lucky enough to score a snow day or two with your kids home from school, here are some indoor and outdoor activities to keep the kids entertained– and to keep yourself from losing your marbles!
Send them outside.
Sending kids outside takes a lot of work. Between the gear, potty breaks, runny noses, and sweaty kids stuffed in icy clothes, it might be easier to enjoy the snow from inside. However, if you have some gung-ho, active kiddos who are really excited to spend time outside, go ahead and send them! And if they come knocking on the door to say they’re bored, here are a few ideas you can give them to keep the fun going:
- Build a snow person or snow family. Give your child scarves, carrots, and any other fun decor to help them create a memorable snowperson or snow family. Older kids can experiment with different snow-packing techniques as a design challenge.
- Build a fort or a shelter. Use softball-sized snowballs to create a fort or a shelter. Remind your child to be careful about getting inside or underneath as it may not be sturdy enough.
- Take some indoor toys outside. There is something so exciting about playing with the same old toys in a new setting.
- Make a snow volcano. Combine the joy of a snow day with the fun of STEM with an explosive volcano. With dish soap, vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring, this activity will keep your kid engaged for a while.
- Create an outdoor obstacle course. Check out what you have in the garage or shed and create an obstacle course. Think beach toys, hula hoops, pool noodles—you have the idea!
- Take a walk around the neighborhood to observe the snow. Have you ever noticed that snow settles on the ground differently? Stroll around the neighborhood and notice the drifts, undisturbed snow, and areas where the snow has already been thoroughly enjoyed. Observe with your child how snowflakes are all different and invite them to draw their observations upon returning home.
Even the most adventurous kids will need to come inside during a snow day. After a change of clothes and some warm cider or hot chocolate, your child can enjoy some quieter activities.
- Take out the board games. Many games now have instructional videos on YouTube which you can watch together with your child. This is both an exercise in following directions as well as an opportunity to ensure everyone understands the rules together. Your kid will enjoy this time with you as you play together.
- Make snow ice cream. All you need is fresh snow, vanilla, and condensed milk to make this yummy treat. Have your child help you make it and enjoy it together with some sprinkles.
- Cuddle up with some books. Find a comfy spot in the house and a stack of books to read with your child. If you’re looking for some great titles, check out this list.
- Paint the snow. Bring the snow inside in a baking pan and give your child food coloring. They can use the droppers to paint the snow and even make miniature snow people.
- Play balloon sports. You can still be active when you’re inside. Blow up a balloon and play balloon soccer or volleyball. If tennis is more your speed, grab some paper plates to use as tennis rackets.
- Work on fine motor skills. Painting a detailed winter scene, creating marshmallow snow people, or using tongs to transfer cotton balls from one container to another are just some of the ways to work on fine motor skills with your child.
Despite the initial excitement of a snow day, the thrill often wears off pretty quickly as kids jump from activity to activity. If you’ve gone through the above list and are looking for more ideas, check out this Winter Activities To-Do List worksheet to make it through the rest of the day.
By Caitlin Hardeman, former third through sixth grade teacher specializing in English Language Arts.