Tuesday, January 31, 2023

19 Snow And Winter Themed Activities For Kids

Winter can be tough when you live in colder weather. Kids are inside more and it's easy to let cold, snowy days get you into a rut of, "I don't feel like doing anything." Anyone else have this issue? Over the years, I've collected enough activities, games, and crafts to keep the kids busy until the snow melts (thirteen years as a daycare provider makes that happen). Here are some of our favorites that are kid tested and daycare provider approved:

1.) Snow painting. This one is easy if you live in a place where there's snow. Literally go outside, fill up a paint cup, add whatever color of paint you wish, hand kids a paint brush and paper, and let them paint. The papers end up looking like water colors when they dry. If you don't live in a place where you get snow (and at this point in the winter, I'm jealous if this is you), a simple way to "snow" paint is mixing baking soda, water, and a drop of paint. This will have a similar texture to snow and papers come out the same water color (if you wipe off the excess baking soda kids are sure to smear on their papers).

2.) Snow ice cream. Unfortunately, this can only be done if you live in a place where it snows. I like to put large bowls out on our deck and let the snow fall into it. This is our favorite recipe for it. Otherwise, try making ice cream in a bag. Not the same at all, but kids get a kick out of it.

3.) Winter habitat. This is a simple sensory bin that can be played with all winter long. Using Insta snow or baking soda snow in a Sterilite container size of your choosing (28 qt. container is perfect for 2 - 4 kids to play in at once), add in whatever animals you want for your habitat. For example, if I'm making woodland winter habitat, I put in snow, bears, fox, wolves, owls, etc. You can use fake pine trees or if you're lucky enough to have one on your property, cut a few stems off (as I did).

4.) Can you build a snowman? This one is fun! I recommend using white clay, but homemade salt dough (1 cup flour, 1 cup salt, 1/3 cup water) or white Play Doh works too. I give each kid one large ball of dough/clay and set out buttons, beads, fabric, pipe cleaners, etc. and let kids create a snowman. I love watching them problem solve, from how to form the balls for their snowman to what materials they should use for eyes, buttons, arms. We recently did this one at daycare for ages 2 - 4 and it kept them busy for 45 minutes.

5.) Polar ice table. Much like the winter habitat, not only are the kids playing (and probably happily playing since it's in water), but they're learning which animals live where. I've done an Arctic ice table and a South Pole ice table, each with whatever animals and life they would find on those continents. 

6.) Fizzy "snow." Baking soda + a little bit of vinegar makes some fizzy fun! I like to hide figurines, Hot Wheels, or other small toys in "snowballs" (your baking soda and water mixture) and give kids small cups of vinegar with droppers. Kids get to free the toys from the snowballs. 

7.) Snowflake making. For the older kids, get scissors and coffee filters and let them get creative with their snowflakes. If they're younger, cut snowflakes out or purchase premade snowflake shapes (that is my go to) and let kids decorate them any way they choose.

8.) Homemade puffy paint. Make snowman shapes and homemade puffy paint (glue + shaving cream), then have kids paint their snowman and decorate.

9.) Try a STEM challenge. We loved this one.

10.) Frozen water beads. Not as in the Let It Go one, but actual water beads that are frozen (we just happened to play with our Frozen figurines in the frozen water beads). This isn't as messy as regular water beads, but just as fun. Have the kids wear mitten, so their fingers don't get frost!

11.) Fake snow. Also known as Insta-Snow, this one is always a hit. Sometimes the kids pretend to cook with it, or play with animal figurines in it, or sometimes they build caves with it. No matter how they play with it, Insta-Snow always provides hours (sometimes days) of fun. Also, it vacuums up easily.

12.) The mittens. There's so many things to do with this one. For the toddler and preschool crowd, the book The Mitten is a great read read. Kids love to decorate mitten cut outs, foam mittens, mitten scratch art, or my favorite, hand prints and cut them into mittens (and then always have those sweet little hand prints).

13.) Bubble wrap snow print. Bubble wrap is always fun to pop, but it's fun to paint with too. I like to use construction paper, white paint, and small pieces of bubble wrap cut into squares. When the kids use the bubble wrap as a stamp, their pictures look like it's snowing. Get ideas for it here.

14.) Build a den. This is a great challenge and fun for the older elementary kids too. You can use a variety of things: marshmallows, toothpicks, popsicle sticks (this works great for younger kids working on hand eye coordination), Dots, pipe cleaners, etc. The goal is for kids to build a structure (a den in this case) that holds a winter animal. Break out animal figurines so kids can get an idea of sizing and for playing after the dens are built. Get ideas here

15.) Frozen oobleck. Oobleck is cornstarch and water mixed together. Many elementary teachers use it for a lesson on is it a solid or a liquid? However, it also makes a great sensory activity. It's even more fun to play with when it's frozen! Find a recipe here.

16.) Ice building blocks. All you need is food coloring, pots, pans, muffin tins, etc., and cold weather (or a freezer). You can read about how I made ours. Grab some gloves and challenge kids to build with the slippery ice.

17.) Indoor snowball fight. Living in a warm climate? Don't want to go out in the cold for an actual snowball fight? No worries! Buy these fake snowballs and have an indoor snowball fight. 

18.) Build a blanket fort. A classic winter or snow day activity. I like to lay out all of the available sheets, large blankets, pillows, chairs, etc. and let the kids get creative. They've built full room forts and spent the day playing in them. There's also plenty of fort building kits you can buy that take up considerably less room too. 

19.) Hot chocolate board. Think charcuterie board, but with hot chocolate. Grab whatever hot chocolate and toppings you'd like, put them on a board. Kids have a blast deciding what hot chocolate they should make and it makes for easy grabbing (which means less work for the adult in the room).

Surprise Bonus: Bring snow indoors. If you don't have time (or just plainly don't want to mess with) all of the gear; I'm talking snow pants, boots, the whole deal, just break out some gloves and let the kids play. Once the snow melts you have a water activity. This can bring an entire day of fun for kids.

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Ice Building Blocks

 Welcome to winter! Where kids are going crazy from being cooped up, you're going crazy because your kids are crazy, and you're looking for anything to keep them busy. Our theme for the month of January at daycare is snow with a focus this week on building (to grow critical thinking skills, problem solving, and fine motor skills). I figured ice went with snow, so Monday morning I froze colored water (these are our favorite food colors to use for projects).

I used a variety of things: muffin tins, ice cube trays, our cocoa bomb molds, bread pans, an old 6x6 Pyrex dish, cupcake holders. I went with anything I could easily grab out of our cupboards. I put everything on two large cookie sheets, walked them outside to our deck, let it all sit in the cold for an hour, and we had colorful ice blocks!

Once the ice blocks were good and frozen, I took them out, put them in a 28 qt. Sterilite container, stuck mittens and gloves on the littles, and let them play and explore. About 20 minutes in, they requested snow to go with their ice and made a castle with it all. 

This simple activity gave me over thirty minutes of peace and gave the kids an opportunity to play and discover in a new way.

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

5 Day Mid-January Break


As if two weeks off at Christmas and a two day break for hacking weren't enough, the minis had a five day mid-January break. I took those days off as well and we made the most of those days off! We spent one day in Minneapolis, another day hiking and watching football at a local brewery, our third day cleaning, the fourth day running errands in between working on school work (them) and Museum events (me), and the last day full of appointments. I feel refreshed and accomplished after those big five days. 

Our quick trip to Minnesota was a blast! Read about it here.

We slept in, then took a brisk three mile hike in nearby Brown's Woods. After we stuffed our faces at Barn Town Brewing and watched football. Barn Town has excellent food and fun drinks to try. We often got their family meals for take out during the pandemic, but on this day we wanted to sit in the restaurant, watch the NFL on the big screens, and enjoy the delicious food.

Sunday night I spent at the Children's Museum creating a sprinkles wall. It turned out awesome!

Cleaning, writing, and kitten snuggles. Possibly one of my favorite Mondays. After a weekend on the go, we needed a down day...or maybe it was a catch up day? Regardless, the minis and I got it all done and we had time to relax.

The boys made us lots of yummy food. From fried shrimp to salmon to roasted potatoes and veggies to pasta, we ate well on our days off. 

A very needed hair cut for the youngest. 

So many sleepy pets. You would think they're the ones on the go!

The oldest has quite the nighttime fan club. His cat and the dog both prefer to sleep with him each night.

Honestly, it would be amazing if most weekends were four or five days, so life wouldn't have the chance to sneak up on me!

Monday, January 23, 2023

1 Day In Minneapolis


In order to fully appreciate this day I need to go back to February 2020. Hubs and I took a trip to northern Utah for our anniversary. Right out of our resort was this really cool ice castle. My eyes lit up and I announced I was getting tickets for us to go to it. Then disappointment set in when I realized it had closed for the season just an hour before our arrival. I told Hubs that I had to go to that ice castle someday. 

Through a series of ads in 2021, I realized that the same company also does an ice castle in Minnesota, under four hours away from us. It was meant to be. Of course, life is life and it was another two years before we got that chance to go. As part of the mini's Christmas presents, I gave them a trip up the Minneapolis to go to the ice castles. No actual tickets because I didn't want potential weather threats to ruin our chances of going. So last Friday, I bought our tickets for the next day, which happened to be our first choice date (as evident by their hand written Christmas present).

We've gone to Minnesota so much recently that I feel like I know my way around well. The drive up was easy and we arrived to the ice castle right on time. The castle is located in a park north of Minneapolis. There's a bit of walking involved because there's very few close parking spots. Regardless of extra walking, parking and check in were easy. Then we spent the next hour and a half walking through ice, sliding down ice slides, and taking the time to speak with employees about the ice castles. We had a great time. It was well worth the three year wait!

Some of us had bigger issues with the ice bench than the rest of us.

After the castle we made our way to the Mall of America. We hadn't been since prepandemic, so the minis were ecstatic to walk around the mall. Their must stop was the Lego store to build their own mini figures. We also scored deals at Yankee Candle and got Cinnabon as a snack. Then we met family for dinner in the food court. We ate in the North/Central food court and the options are amazing. Sure there's the usual Burger King, Chick Fil A, and Panda Express, but there were also options for sushi, lobster rolls, shawarma, birria tacos, and ramen. Most of us went with the ramen and it was some of the best I've ever had. My ramen loving middle mini informed me we'll have to make the trip up to Minneapolis for lunch in the food court another weekend. I laughed, but I can't say I completely disagree with that!

We highly recommend Ichiddo Ramen.

A long day doing everything we wanted and we were still home by 11 p.m. in our own beds! Kittens were ready for a cuddle and I fell into bed. While it was a quick trip, I love that we're under four hours away whenever we want another day trip to the Twin Cities.