Many of us along the East Coast are watching the weather with anticipation – good or bad – about the impending snow…event. I happen to be gleefully clapping my hands because we haven’t had nearly enough snow this year, and my boys have been devastated each time the forecast says the “S” word and then nothing happens. This time I’m looking at the hourly predictions, smiling. “So you’re saying there’s a chance.”
Huzzah! So to your astonishment, I have some snow day things up my sleeve because with little people, most of your time is consumed in dressing them for a short-lived, culminating event. Quint is notorious for taking two steps off the front porch and then declaring it’s time to go inside. “No, buddy. I fought for 15 minutes to get those boots on. Keep marching.”
Max, on the other hand would be thrilled to stay outside until his extremities were frost-bitten, and so I have to entice him with some fun, unique things inside the house, or else explain to him why he can’t count to ten with his fingers like other kids can.
So get your grocery list ready (because we all know you are headed to the store) and add a couple of things to make the impending snow day even more super. Okay, seriously. Stop rolling your eyes and get your pen ready.
Balloons. Big, latex balloons and food coloring. For the past two years when the temps have dropped (and usually when there is snow on the ground), we make ice marbles. These are so easy to do and are beautiful to look at in the snow.
Now, if you object to coloring your hands you might want to wear latex gloves (add those to your list!), but let’s be honest…you are stuck in your house so what does it matter if it looks like you have been dyeing Easter eggs?
- Select the colors you want and put at least 8 drops of food coloring in your balloon. The next part can be tricky (and messy) but stick with me.
- Wrap the opening of the balloon around the faucet in your kitchen or bathroom and pull it up a good bit. Use one hand to turn on the water (SLOWLY) and the other hand to support the bottom of the balloon as it fills. I would NOT recommend filling the balloon to its limit because it will take a long time for it to freeze. We experimented with warm and cold water in the balloons and I think the marble effect is better achieved with cold water. It also doesn’t sink in the snow as much.
- Once the water is off, pinch the balloon directly below the covered part of the faucet and use your other hand to peel back the rest of the balloon from the sink. Make sure you have a good seal with that pinch or else you will look like you went through a Color Run. I did not say this was a tie dye activity. Speaking of tie, put a knot in the end of the balloon and set in a large bowl for safe-keeping while you make the others.
- Set out your filled balloons in some snow. If it is pretty frozen you might want to break it up a bit and make a divot for your balloon to sit in. Nothing like all that hard work, only to pop your balloon with the ice!
- It will probably need to sit out over one very cold night or two. You can check on it to see if the bubbles move when you shift them.
- Once frozen, cut the knot off and peel back the balloon. Ice Marbles!! Also, your hands will probably get colored again removing the balloon. It’s ok. Just put on gloves and go about your day.
Next up on your list: Vanilla Extract, condensed milk, sprinkles. If you don’t have condensed milk, then regular milk and sugar can be used…it’s just not as good in my humble opinion.
To save you my ramblings, I will let you read an established recipe from Happy Hooligans. It’s very close to what I do…except she left out the sprinkles at the end which is just devastating. Don’t be that person!
My boys’ first encounter with snow cream last year. Huge hit!
Another fun activity to do inside is to make Play-doh. We usually have the ingredients around and it’s a hands-on experience for everyone. We have tried several recipes…and I have to say that the one you cook is probably the most long-lasting, but if you don’t want to go there, that’s OK!
We keep tons of food coloring around for activities like this because I like rich colors (which translates into lots of food coloring). If you have never tried the gel version of food coloring, I highly recommend it. Awesome for icing, cakes, and Play-doh!
Plain Play-doh make you yawn? Try adding glitter…or even an extract or spice. For St. Patty’s day we have added peppermint to the dough. I had a friend put pumpkin spice in some orange play-doh for the fall. Shake it up!
Here is a recipe for cooked play-doh from Family Education. They have some pretty great links to no-cook recipes too so I’ll let you click away.
What else, what else…baking is always an option. To get the boys involved we make sugar cookies or snickerdoodles and eat a couple between our adventures outside.
In the evening we have made a fire in our fireplace and had s’mores, which is usually a contest to see who can set their marshmallow on fire the fastest and the parents ensuring the flaming ‘mallow doesn’t ignite the carpet. *sigh* Fun times, fun times.
We use kabob skewers as our “sticks” or else you are welcome to look around for a stick outside. Don’t have a fireplace? What about a gas stove? We have definitely roasted marshmallows that way too. Last resort: microwave.
The possibilities to mitigating cabin fever are endless. We open the pull-out on the couch and have a movie fest, we paint, we have Nerf gun battles. I pour way too many bubbles in the bath.
I know that we have been spoiled with beautiful days and warmer weather which makes it seem like the upcoming snow is such a setback. I am a little nervous for my daffodils and hyacinths that are starting to bloom, but we’ll just have to see how they do. Fingers crossed they make it!
If anything, let’s use this time to channel our inner kid. Think about the excitement you felt when you awoke to a world covered in white, and the magical memories created with your family and friends…sledding down hills at the speed of light, or burning the tip of your tongue on hot chocolate covered in marshmallows. There is magic there. It’s yours for the making.