I love to go outside and play in the snow with my step-children. I don't always love being cold, so having a game plan on what "type" of outside snow play we are going to do helps. Some snow play can take hours, while others can be quicker depending upon your activity.
Below are five of my favorite outside snow activities to do at home with the kids. And no, sledding and skiing are not one of them!
Snow Painting-Activity #1:
This can be a quick activity if you and/or your kids only like to go outside for short bursts of time when its cold out. My family has several empty spray bottles we save for this special time of year. We add food coloring and water to the bottles and take them outside and spray the snow with the colors. This works best for dense snow, because if it is too fluffy, the water you spray will melt down the snow and hide the color beyond what you can see. It also doesn't work on icy snow because the food coloring doesn't have anything to stick to.
Or you can do what Sara Stepford and her son did: they combined icicles and snow with a wooden palate to give the snow a structure to work from. It looks like the icicles hold on the the color better than would be expected...just make sure the temperature outside is below freezing to insure it will freeze on the icicle rather than melt it and slide off!
Dog Snow Track-Activity #2:
We are dog lovers, and we have two mini dachshunds-so snow can be fun for them, until it gets too deep and they can't walk through it. When there is enough snow, the kids love to take a snow shovel and dig out an oval path with only one entrance. Once they have dug out a ring shape, they carry the dogs into it and let them run around. They make sure one person stands guard to the only entrance into it so the dogs don't get out. Make sure you leave the snow on the outside AND the inside edges of the oval-its more fun to make it a path than just a cleared out circle! Now that we have two small dogs, the kids think it would be fun to have two runs that meet at one end so they can have races. I don't have a picture for this idea because there hasn't yet been enough snow for this idea!
Building Forts/Igloos-Activity #3:
My step-kids have two very different ways to go about making their fort or igloo. The first way is to 1. take a snow shovel to the middle of the yard 2. clear snow away from the "inside" and leave the snow in a ring round where the igloo base is going to start 3. then start pulling snow and packing it in a circle from the surrounding snow. Another option instead of using a snow shovel is to get a sturdy crate like a recycling bin and pack the snow into it to make snow blocks (with the same concept as using molds to make sand castles).
If the snow is packing well, they will follow the directions for the world's biggest snow ball below, only stop with many so they are manageable and put the snow balls into a circle then bring in additional snow to pack in the spaces between each ball.
World's Biggest Snowball-Activity #4:
This one is simple, yet always so much fun. It works best with snow that packs well. If it is too wet it will not hold its shape. Likewise, it needs to not be too cold because the fluffiness of the snow will disappear quickly and make the snow dense before you can roll it. For this, you start with a snow ball and keep rolling it. If the snow is right, as you roll it across the lawn or driveway, it will pick up almost all the snow in its path and just keep getting bigger. See how large you can get yours before it is too heavy to push, or it crumbles apart under its own weight.
Alternative Version: Hide and Seek Snowballs-hide items within the snow ball and have a race to see who can demolish their snow ball and find all the objects first. *Note-Don't use anything you can't live without seeing again, you know...just in case it is never found again!
Bring it Inside-Activity #5:
I always try to have one idea left in case someone has the sniffles and shouldn't actually go outside to play! This is also great for infants and toddlers to experience the chill of snow in a familiar setting. I always loved making mini MDX style courses to use matchbox cars on! Or, you can add Lego's and other small toys.