Winter has been particularly cold here in the D.C. Metro area. While the season conjures up images of playing in the snow, building forts and having snowball fights, there are times when it is just too frigid to go outside. For those days, it can be fun to bring a little of the cold inside the warm house and introduce some creative activities into your child’s life. Here are a few ideas. (Note – if your child is sensitive to the cold, have him/her wear thin gloves when touching snow or ice.)
Do you want to build a snowman?
Ingredients: ice; snow; raisins; stick pretzels
Materials: baking pan
Gather enough snow to create miniature snowmen. Layer the baking pan with ice. Cover the ice with a layer of snow. Roll snow into little balls and stack, just like you would a regular snowman. Use raisins for eyes and small pieces of pretzel sticks for a nose and for arms. Use your imagination to “dress” the snowman. Create multiple miniatures to make a whole village. Store in the freezer. Talk to your child about the differences between hot and cold and discuss in simple terms why snow and ice melt.
Construct an ice cabin.
Ingredients: small or medium icicles; snow
Materials: baking pan
Layer the bottom of the baking pan with ice. Cover with snow. Lay a row of large icicles horizontally, putting them as tightly together side-by-side as you can. This is the foundation. Now, put a layer of snow on top of the foundation. Next, layer a row of icicles vertically across the snow. Repeat steps one and two until you have a full structure. Use snow to create a roof, packing the snow tightly to form an angle. You can also use snow to make a rectangle door. Make several cabins to form a neighborhood. Then have your miniature snowmen visit! Store in the freezer.
Blaze a trail.
Materials: baking sheet
On the baking sheet, pack snow into “s” shapes. Connect the shapes to form a trail. Now, create a matching trail and run it beside the original one, leaving enough space for your child’s finger to move through. Make a series of connecting trails simple or complicated enough to accommodate your child’s age. Have your child “travel” the trails with his/her finger.
Color the snow.
Ingredients: snow, food color
Materials: clear drinking glasses, spoons
Put some snow into each drinking glass. Add different food color to each glass, watching the color slowly seep into the snow. Have your child stir the snow up. Talk about colors. Use multiple colors to create other colors (for example, blue and yellow to make green). Experiment, layering different colored snow in a single glass. Talk about how the colors change as the snow melts.
Make some snow ice cream.
Ingredients: 1 cup of milk; ½ teaspoon vanilla; ½ cup sugar; 4-5 cups clean snow
Materials: 2 mixing bowls, spoon
Put snow in a bowl and put it in the freezer. In another bowl, help your child mix together the milk, vanilla and sugar. Stir this mixture until the sugar is dissolved. Remove snow from the freezer and slowly add the snow to your mixture, stirring constantly, until it is as thick as ice cream. Enjoy as you talk about flavors like “sweet.”
Make an icicle smoothie.
Ingredients: 3 cups clean, crushed icicles or icy snow; 1 cup strawberries; 1 medium banana; ½ cup pineapple juice
Materials: blender, drinking glasses
Cut up strawberries and banana into small pieces and put in blender. Add pineapple juice and ice. Blend until thick and smooth. For an even thicker smoothie, add ½ cup vanilla yogurt or one scoop of protein powder. Pour into glasses. Talk about eating healthy food.
There are many other activities you can do to teach your child. For example, heat some snow or ice in a pan and make hot cocoa out of the water while talking about mixtures. Or heat the snow to a boil and talk about boiling water.
Remember that conversation is important, but you should use words that are age appropriate.