Each winter, the same scenario plays out: parents go to bed with their driveways clear only to wake up the next morning to find it completely covered in snow and ice. Mother Nature's great surprise! Then comes the announcement school has been canceled, leaving mom and dad struggling to find a last-minute sitter and come up with ideas to keep the kids occupied all day.
Resist the temptation to let them "veg" on the couch in front of movies or video games. Instead, be prepared this winter with these fun, creative, simple projects that will keep the kids busy during a snow day.
Create Snow Art
Bring some color into the outdoor fun. Deanna Garretson, a mom who blogs at Domestic Chicky, recommends filling empty spray bottles or liquid dishwasher bottles with food coloring and water, then letting the kids unleash their inner winter wonderland artist! As Garretson says, "adding color to the snow is so much fun and really allows them the chance to be creative and do something different than the typical outdoor, snowy activities." Kids can design rainbows, flowers or self-portraits or even add color to snowmen.
Build a Living Room Campsite
Kids love when their parents flip normal household routines upside down. Creating a campsite in the living room is the perfect way to take them by surprise! Turn out the lights, wear PJs, bust out the sleeping bags and sit around telling stories. If you don't have a tent, be creative and build a fort using blankets, couch cushions and pillows. Hide marshmallows, chocolate bars and graham crackers in the pantry for snow day s'mores. Check out these fun twists on the classic camp food.
Schedule a Neighborhood Play Date
For New Yorker Denise Albert, co-founder of the Moms, snow days are all about neighbors. Living in a big, urban building makes for instant play dates when friends are just down the hall or a floor above or below. Albert suggests, "at the beginning of each school year, make a snow day roster with neighbors who want to participate in the same building or, for parents in suburban areas, on the same block. When the snow hits, play dates are already lined up!" Make rotating shifts throughout the day, allowing each parent a little peace and quiet to catch up on their own tasks as well.
Make Magazine Mosaics
Use old magazines in creative, artistic ways. Have kids cut out different colors from the pages into small squares. Next, sketch a design on a paper plate. Then use glue and a paint brush to make a colorful mosaic. You can make designs using different shades of one color or lots of different colors. Or download free color-by-number printables and fill them in with the paper squares instead of crayons.
Bake, Bake, Bake
If it's too cold to enjoy the snow outside, bring the fun into the kitchen. Make some yummy treats that everyone will enjoy. According to Carrie, who blogs at Making Lemonade, "Oreo snowballs are the perfect treat to make with stir-crazy snowbound kiddos because there is no baking involved. They're also great for partnering with hot chocolate after a morning spent sledding." Get the simple recipe here.
Craft an Indoor Snowman
You don't always have to freeze outside to build a snowman -- be creative and make one using marshmallows. Outline a snowman on construction paper and trace glue around each circle. Place mini marshmallows onto the glue. Add details with other materials from around the house. Grab scraps of felt for his hat or yarn for his scarf and color in his face with markers or dried food products. When he's dry, the kids can name and hang him up in the house. Don't have mini marshmallows? Use cotton balls for a fluffier snowman.
Make Homemade Play Dough
On her site, Skip to my Lou, blogger Cindy Hopper gives a step-by-step tutorial on how to make colorful play dough from basic household baking ingredients. Follow her simple instructions and the kids will be kneading and rolling their play dough all day long to create fun designs.
Whip up Snow Cones
After playing in the snow with the kids, gather up clean, freshly fallen snow and bring it inside. Divide it into cups and pour lemon juice and a little sugar or frozen juice concentrate over each and you and the kids can enjoy some scrumptious homemade snow cones. Get more detailed instructions here.
With a little advance preparation and a lot of creativity, you'll have plenty of activities to keep your whole crew entertained the next time snow strands you at home.
Meredith Johns is a freelance writer in St. Louis. Her work can be found here.