By Gina Roberts-Grey
Family Times is 20! To celebrate, we will pick one article (or a few) from our archive each month – including this one, which appeared in our February 2006 issue. View our other anniversary content here.
For grown-ups, forecasts for a heavy snowfall mean nothing but a hassle. You still have to do all the same stuff; it just takes a lot longer and is a little more nerve-wracking.
For kids, however, a wintry forecast means one thing: snow day. And even the most enthusiastic student savors an unexpected day off. School’s closed, the TV’s on, and you can wear pajamas all day.
The next time local schools call a snow day, try seeing the opportunity through your child’s eyes. With a little advanced planning, the day can be embraced as a relaxing, and even productive, respite rather than a day filled with anxiety.
1. Take Care. If your child attends before-or-after school care offered through your school or district, a day off from school might leave you scrambling for baby-sitting if your office is still open. Arrange in advance to share snow day duties with other parents in the neighborhood. If everyone takes turns, you can limit the amount of time off from work needed during snow days.
2. Pack a snow box. Keep a small toolbox, plastic storage bin or shoe box filled with random craft items under your child’s bed or in a cabinet. A supply of cotton balls, modeling clay, yarns, and popsicle sticks can spark hours of crafty entertainment as well as tranquil periods of creative silence.
3. Build the ultimate snowman. Use your children’s desire to outfit their snow pals as an opportunity to clean out a junk drawer or closet. Entice your children to efficiently participate in the purging with the promise that what they help eliminate can be donated to their snowman. An ample array of spare fabric or felt, twigs, rocks, and other snowman or snowwoman adornments is sure to delight your eager snow artist.
4. Join in the games. Take advantage of Mother Nature’s gracious break from your child’s regular routine and instigate a snowball fight or take advantage of the chance to revisit your youth sledding down a hill. The release from daily pressures and tasks is invigorating and allows for some memorable quality time spent as a family.
5. Snow races. Suggest your resourceful kids construct a snow obstacle course in your yard. Use various-sized snowballs as the hurdles and challenge them to demonstrate the silliest or snowiest technique or determine who can jump the highest snow hurdle or run the frostiest 50-yard snowman dash. Your entire family will benefit from the physical activity and opportunity to use excess energy stored while trapped indoors.
6. Snack on “snow.” A child’s love for spending time in the kitchen isn’t always shared by parents who fear a flour fight or accidental burn. When your child is stuck in on a snow day, suggest he try out this tasty, no-bake snow treat.
Crumble ½ cup Corn Flakes cereal in a bowl. Mix in ¼ cup peanut butter and stir well. Form the mixture into small balls and place them on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper. Sprinkle them with powdered sugar and place them into the freezer for 10 minutes or until hardened.
7. Flurry of facts. Do your children know that the first patent for a snowplow was issued in the 1840s; have they ever asked you how snow is formed or why each snowflake is unique? Time spent exploring your local library, buried in reference books at home, or online at Encarta.com provides hours of educational opportunities for everyone while the snow continues to fall.
8. Go global. Children of all ages delight at watching snowy glitter blanket the tiny scenes depicted in snow globes. Send your children scouring the house or yard for items such as an evergreen branch, pinecones or old figurines. You can also use a laminated photo that has a thin plastic edge, so water does not leak inside and the ruin the photo. Place the items in a glass jar, such as a baby-food jar, that has a lid.
With adult supervision, hot glue the items to the inside of the jar’s lid. Don’t overfill the lid or else the jar will not close. Add about a teaspoon of glitter to the jar and water up to the lip. Put the lid on the jar, and close firmly. Hot glue the lid to the jar to prevent leakage, decorate the rim with a ribbon, and give it a shake.
9. Document the day. Keep a few disposal cameras on hand in case of a snow day. The chance to use their own camera to commemorate the day playing snow football, building a snowman, or lounging around is always appealing to children looking to explore their creative side.
10. Stay safe. “The snow draws us to ice-covered lakes and ski slopes each winter, regardless of the frigid temperatures and the risks,” says Debbie Kogut, coordinator of the Greater Syracuse SAFE KIDS Coalition. “Parents should watch their children closely, limit their outdoor playtime, and make sure they are dressed appropriately for the weather.”
As your pint-sized snowchildren are getting ready to brave the blustery outdoors, make sure they are outfitted in several layers of insulation. Using multiple layers helps to trap their body’s heat inside the layers while allowing their skin to effectively breathe and perspire. Hats, gloves or mittens, scarves, and a final layer of waterproof outerwear and boots also offer added protection against the elements.
Don’t forget to review sledding safety tips such as remaining sitting upright and facing downhill at all times, and steering clear of fellow children who may be sledding in their path. As they’re bundling up, use the time to remind your children of the importance of not burrowing under the snow or playing too close to the street, to use the snow buddy system, and to come indoors if they feel uncomfortably cold.