So long, snow daze

The best things to do when school’s closed for a snow day

The Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a colder and snowier winter than normal this year, so we can expect more snow days on the school calendar.

What’s a family to do? Whether you brave the cold outside or cuddle up for some indoor activities, snow days are a perfect opportunity to connect with your kids. From sledding to reading to playing cards, the following activities will keep you and your kids entertained!

Cool outdoor adventures
Snow – you can’t find a better toy for kids in the Northeast. Not only is there plenty of it this time of year, but it’s free!

1. Get out and enjoy yourselves. Build a snowman, make snow angels, or build a snow fort (with adult supervision, of course). Add some food coloring for a creative touch.

2. Go sledding! For a fee, many parks and ski centers provide inner tubes for a day of unlimited tubing down the slopes. Or, bring your own sleds to the local park for a free day of fun.

3. Get your skates on. Kids don’t even need their own skates. Some facilities offer skating (and skates) at an outdoor pavilion or pond. Or, for a less chilling experience, indoor skating rinks allow visitors to rent skates. Just check their schedule for open skating times.

Snuggle up for indoor fun
If your toes are tingling or you’ve perfected the snow angel, warm up inside with these exciting activities:

1. Cuddle up for storytime. If you know a storm is coming, stop by your local library before the snow flies and see which new titles are in. Or, rediscover an old classic. Some of the best titles for kids this winter are: Let’s Dance, Little Pookie by Sandra Boynton (for babies and toddlers), Tea for Ruby by Sarah Ferguson (ages 4-6), Hate That Cat by Sharon Creech (ages 5-7), and Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke (ages 8-12). You can also check out the latest books in Hudson Valley Parent's new online book reviews. See the first review here.

Cuddle up under a warm blanket and read your children their favorite stories while you act out
all the voices. Or, write your own stories! Brainstorm story ideas and characters together. If the kids can’t write yet, have them create the story and draw some illustrations while you do the writing.

2. Get creative with crafts. Look around the house and be resourceful – there is plenty of material for easy and fun crafts using everyday household products. Try using coffee cans and ribbon as stilts, baby-food jars as snow globes or Popsicle sticks for trinket boxes.

Take out a craft book from the library, such as Winter Day Play! Activities, Crafts, and Games for Indoors and Out by Nancy F. Castaldo or Snowmen: Creatures, Crafts, and Other Winter Projects by Peter Cole and Leslie Jonath, or browse the Internet for age-appropriate projects for your crew.

3. Wind down with a movie. Although it’s not a good idea to watch TV all the time, a fun movie here and there is a nice break during a long day. Pop some popcorn or enjoy slices of apples and peanut butter as you cozy up on the couch with a mug of hot cocoa to watch a childhood classic. From the “Wizard of Oz” to “Kung-Fu Panda” to “Horton Hears a Who” to “WALL-E,” there are movies galore for younger kids to teens at your local library – available totally free!

4. Make some delicious and fun snacks together. There are many quick, simple snacks you and your children can make. Create sculptures or snow people out of marshmallows using pretzel sticks to hold the marshmallows in place. For variety, use large and mini marshmallows. Or, “glue” the marshmallows on top of each other using melted chocolate, and decorate the faces or clothing using other types of candies or sprinkles.

Make dinner a snap by getting the kids involved in making their own personal pizzas. All you have to do is provide the dough, cheese, sauce and toppings. The kids do all the work. The possibilities are endless!

5. Build skills with games. Remember those old classics from when you were a kid – Yahtzee, Uno and Pick-Up Sticks?

They’re still around, still popular and your kids are bound to love them too! Find a deck of cards and play Go-Fish, War or Crazy Eights, or explain the rules of Candyland, Sorry! or Checkers. Not only will your kids have fun, but many games help improve math, verbal, social and directional skills (not to mention they keep kids entertained for hours!).

Check out some of the board games in our Holiday Fun & Gift Guide or here.

6. Put on a show. Write a script together, or find a favorite fairy tale and have your children act out the parts. The kids can even make small props and costumes, and pick out music to go along with the performance. They’ll burn lots of energy and enjoy acting in front of an audience: you! If you have a video camera, record their play – they’ll love to watch it over and over and make up new story lines.

Coleen McDonald is a student at Mount Saint Mary College working on a degree in Journalism.