Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Top Favorite Winter Activities

The first snowfall, it's magical for kids and adults. Kids can't wait to dig out their snow pants and rush out the door to flop on their backs and make the season's first snow angel, even if there is only an inch of snow on the ground! The anticipation and excitement of the upcoming holiday season is upon us and freshly fallen snow glistening on the tree branches is just beautiful.

This year we had much more than one inch of snow!

And then January comes. The excitement of the holidays are over, it's cold, it's dark, and this year, well a good portion of the country has experienced record snowfall and cold temperatures. I personally spent a majority of January stuck in the house with my kids, all day, everyday. I lost track of the unusual amount of days off from school this year. The first couple of snow days were cozy and fun filled with indoor and outdoor activities. Then the temperatures dropped to below zero and the cabin fever started setting in. I could feel my blood pressure rising significantly over the smallest things. That's when I knew it was time to get creative and pull out some of our "tried and true" favorite winter activities and test out some new ones too.

1. baking or cooking with your kids
It doesn't matter if it's homemade soft pretzels or brownies out of a box, kids love to help cook. Not to mention great skills for them to acquire. One of our easy and fun meals to make is turkey hot dogs and spaghetti. You can use any type of hot dog, but I like to get the Oscar Meyer Naturals Turkey dogs. I cut them up into bite size bits then let the boys push about six strands of uncooked spaghetti through the middle of the hot dog. Boil until spaghetti is cooked, about ten minutes and enjoy. My kids always eat these up.

2. make an indoor obstacle course
We have done this with the use of couch cushions, a tunnel, toy cones, and hula hoops, whatever we have available for crawling, jumping, hopping and weaving through the course. Another type of obstacle course that has become our favorite is this one:

Yes, my boys love to dress themselves in mismatched pajamas!

That is yarn from Dollar Tree, you can tell it's from the dollar store as I can tug hard on it and it breaks. I wouldn't recommend using this for any knitting projects, but it's great for this. We also had the perfect spot at our old house, I didn't even need to use tape. We have since tried this at our new house and don't have the catwalk for it so we used a hallway which required tape on the wall. Shh, don't tell my husband. I used clear packing tape and it didn't leave any residue on the wall or take off any paint but of course it will come down if you pull or tug on it too much. So instead of jumping and diving through the string like we used to do, it has now become a game of "try not to touch the laser beams!"

3. food tasting
This came from my childhood and was a favorite with my sister and our wonderful neighbor friend. I have no idea how we started this, but one person is blindfolded and simply has to taste a small amount of various "foods" and try to guess what they are. And of course, we always threw in a sampling of cayenne pepper or something similar and laughed hysterically about it. I have not done that to my boys, yet! We pretty much stick to the basics but I do throw in avocado or another vegetable, along with a piece of candy.

4. arts and crafts
Sometimes we plan to make something specific, but many times, I hand my boys the plastic containers filled with various art supplies and let them create whatever they want. Glue, markers, "wiggly eyes," pom poms, glitter, pipe cleaners, and vehicle shaped sponges for stamping have all been good finds at Dollar Tree.  Crayons, construction paper, and paint I usually pick up elsewhere.

One year I saw these little, puffy handmade hearts on Martha Stewart's website and wanted to make my own with the help of the boys. I got red, white, and pink material from the fabric store along with white and red fabric paints and cotton stuffing. I cut the hearts out of the fabric and let the boys decorate them with the fabric paint, glitter, and sequins. Once they dried, I sewed a decorated heart onto another undecorated one, stuffed it, and sewed it up with a small loop to hang on the branched floral arrangement I put up during the winter months. My sewing skills are beginner to say the least, but this project was completely manageable. The boys loved the hearts and patiently made several of them.

Since we had fabric left over and the boys had so much fun with this, I decided to make two small pillowcases for the boys to decorate and give to each aunt for Valentine's Day.

5. get outside
If the temperature is not freezing and bearable, we love to get out of the house and burn some energy sledding, making a snowman, painting snow (food coloring and water in a spray bottle from Dollar Tree), or making a snow fort. My 1 year old girls have loved going outside this year and being pulled in their sleds too!

Snow painting

A small "bunny" hill in the backyard works for us!

Ice blocks 
This year we made ice blocks, water and food coloring frozen in various plastic containers and cups. Since it has been so cold, we set the tubs of water and food coloring outside and they froze in a couple hours. You could also freeze these in your freezer if needed. Once frozen, I ran a little bit of hot water on the outside of the tubs and they popped right out. The ones frozen in the plastic containers popped out much easier than the ones in plastic cups. The kids played with these for a few days before they melted due to the warmer temperatures. Their favorite activity was burying these in the snow and then "digging for buried treasure!"
Source: Happy Hooligans 

6. outdoor activities for freezing temperatures
While I don't recommend taking your kids outside when the temperature is this cold, we did find a couple fun things to do. At zero degrees or below you can take boiling water and throw it into the air and it quickly freezes into tiny ice crystals and looks like a cloud. We had so much fun with this, we did it a few times. But, PLEASE be careful and use caution if trying this.

You can see the water freezing instantly

and then the cloud appears

The other below zero activity we tried was blowing bubbles. While our bubbles hardened into a stretchy film, they didn't completely freeze before popping. I didn't use a homemade bubble solution as recommended, but if we have another day of freezing temperatures I will try this again. You can see another mom's frozen bubble pictures here.

7. fun baths
They have to take them anyway, so why not make them fun? Aside from bubbles and toys, our two favorites are shaving cream paint and glow sticks. Use small plastic bowls, fill with dollar store shaving cream, add a couple drops of food coloring, mix and paint the tub with paint brushes! It washes right off and doesn't leave stains, plus the shaving cream doesn't smell bad either.

At night, we like to turn off the lights and toss in a bunch of glow sticks (yes, Dollar Tree sells these). 

8. marshmallow snowmen
When it's too cold to go outside, we build our own snowmen inside with marshmallows, toothpicks, and edible markers. The larger marshmallows are perfect for this, but really you could use whatever you have and let them get creative. I found the edible markers at JoAnn Fabrics.

Little "smartie" knows he gets to eat the marshmallows after, hence, the many arms and legs

9. hide n seek in the dark
Once the girls are in bed, the four of us head downstairs, turn off this lights, grab our flashlights, and have a blast playing in the dark and scaring each other.

10. making our own science experiments
These are a huge hit here and we do a couple every month. Most of them require basic ingredients that you probably already have like baking soda, water, and dish soap. These are our two favorite recipes that we make often wizard's brew and oobleck.

baking soda experiment

And our final favorite winter activity? Snuggling up on the couch with popcorn and a movie! A nice break for all of us :)

To see more of my party ideas, home decorating, favorite recipes, twin activities x 2, and all things "Mrs.Party Planner" please check me out on facebook and "like" the page. New blog posts will appear in your news feed.

1 comment:

  1. What fun! Living warmly in southern California I won't get to try some of these -- oh darn! We often make your first item -- Amara calls them Aliens and at almost 10 they are still a favorite! Going to have to try the bath paints -- you never outgrow that stuff!