Few things are as eagerly anticipated by children as birthdays, holiday presents and, of course, snow days. When the meteorologist predicts several inches of snow, most kids go to sleep to visions of sledding, snowball fights and building snow forts. Should the school district close for the day, cheers can be heard throughout the neighborhood.
Although, children may revel in the idea of days off from school due to snow, parents may not be as enthusiastic. Entertaining children when they typically should be in class can take creativity, especially when the weather is inhospitable. To alleviate bouts of cabin fever or prevent cases of hypothermia, there are many fun things parents can consider. And don't tell the children, but some are educational, too.
* Put out bird seed or a suet block and feed the neighborhood birds. Compare the different species that come to grab an easy meal. Artistic kids can sketch what they see by looking out the window.
* Shovel a shallow path in the snow around the yard to create a snow maze. Build snow blinds, behind which kids can hide.
* Gather winter nature items, like pine cones and icicles. Look for frozen "fossils."
* Brew a thermos full of hot chocolate and go sit out with the neighbors who are probably going a bit stir crazy as well.
* Check in on elderly friends and neighbors and offer to shovel their driveways and walkways, if necessary.
* Pretend you are on a North Pole expedition and hike through the neighborhood in a quest to reach the summit of a mountain or to find a hidden treasure.
* Use spray bottles or squirt bottles filled with water and food coloring to draw masterpieces in the snow.
* Gather a clean patch of snow and pour maple syrup onto it. Allow to harden and then enjoy homemade maple candies.
* Explore and look for winter plants and other foliage that survive the chill.
* Grab skates and head to an ice rink or solid (and safe) pond.
* Decorate an outdoor tree with streamers and popcorn garland.
* If it's too chilly for a picnic in the snow, place a blanket on the family room floor and enjoy an indoor picnic.
* Rent a movie and cuddle on the couch under blankets.
* Have a marathon video game battle.
* Put on some tunes and dance around the house.
* Play a classic game, such as Twister(R) or Monopoly(R).
* Take out modeling clay or dough and create different play figures or ornaments.
* Whip up a hearty meal together, giving kids free reign over the ingredients.
* Play with toy trucks and cars in the snow.
* Engage in a snowball fight.
* Find the tallest hill in the area and test your bravery on the back of a sled.
* Chase the dog around the backyard. Dogs often like to play in the snow, too.
* Sit in sunny windows and read books silently or to the group.
* Make sock puppets and put on a show.
* Catch up on beauty sleep by taking a nice nap under a warm quilt.
* Bake a batch of brownies or cookies.
Snow days don't have to be restless mornings and afternoons spent locked indoors. There are many different and fun ways to pass the hours.