Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Let it Snow: Activities for Everyone

Since winter and snow are such a big part of living in Minnesota we embraced it with activities that kept us busy both outdoors and inside. Here are a few of my favorites. We'd love to hear from you - share your favorite snow related activities.

Winter came down to our home one night
Quietly pirouetting in our silvery-toed slippers of snow,
And we, we were children once again.
~ Bill Morgan, Jr.
Snow Scientist at Work
Science of Snow - Snow is fascinating!
 Take the opportunity to explore the properties and note the differences each snowfall. We had a couple of plastic tubs, magnifying glass, rulers, yard sticks, black felt and a journal book as part of our snow science kit. During or after a snowfall we'd be out gathering a nice sample of snow for examination. When the weather was cooperative we did our experimentation outdoors but sometime we just scooped up a nice tub of snow to bring indoors. Science experiments included observing differences in individual snow flakes using the magnifying glass and the black felt.
Viewing the snow flakes on a black or dark background is best for noting each flakes unique look. Do this outdoors while it is snowing. We'd also measure the depth of the snow and test the packing property. Measuring rates of melting is always fascinating - get a good amount of snow in the plastic tubs, measure the depth of that snow and then take readings every minute or so. On occasion, when the idea struck the children, we'd have a tub of snow melting in different rooms. Then there would be a very excited meeting to discover which room's snow melted quickest and then the whys would start, which lead to more research. We kept a Snow Journal with details of different snows, dated all our entries and used drawings along with photos to capture the moment. I did this with infants through schoolagers.

Torn Paper Art
Torn Paper Creation - This is a favorite from my own school days and one the children loved to do often. You need a dark piece of construction paper as your background, white construction paper and other colors to add interest. No scissors are needed and really tests patience as well as small motor coordination. Simply tear paper and glue down to create your masterpiece. This is fun to do any day or any season. Younger children may need a little help. They can tear the paper into small bits to be then layered for the shapes they want or tear the shape carefully out of the paper - both techniques work well. These technique works very well for mosaic art and we found ourselves tearing paper to have on hand for future use. I stored torn paper in zip lock bags. Hint: Sometimes tearing paper is very therapeutic for children and even for adults!

Shaving Cream World
Shaving Cream Exploration - A lovely pile of shaving cream is just fun to get your hands into. You can sculpt, paint, mush, draw or write into shaving cream. It smells good and is easy to wash off little hands. We often would do this after a day of sledding or snow sculpting outdoors. I do recommend wearing protective covering over clothes. Roll up your sleeves and get into it. Piling the shaving cream on a counter top or table that will tolerate this activity is fun, but you can also have each child use a tray on a covered table top. With their own tray they can keep their activity from sliding into others - which can sometimes be an issue. To paint - add food coloring. If you have a child who wants to participate but doesn't want the shaving cream to touch their hands they could use plastic gloves so they still get the sensation but there is a barrier between them and the shaving cream.

Snow Painting Fun
Outdoor Snow Painting - Another favorite of ours for outdoor fun. You'll need spray bottles with diluted food coloring and a nice area of snow. I used the large and small sized spray bottles so all hands could enjoy this activity. We also brought out watercolor kits with brushes for smaller creations. Spray bottles give the children the ability to color a larger area of snow. This is wonderful to do on snow people or snow sculptures to add details.
I think of this as the sidewalk chalk activity of winter. Our neighbors enjoyed our creativity for several days afterward. This works best the day after a snow, after it's settled a little.
Depending on how intensely we got involved in this activity I might need to wash mittens and outdoor wear afterward.

Snow Sculpture Creations
Snow Sculptures - Taking it beyond snow people, let the children thing of other creations they would like to make such as animals, forts, snow scenes, characters from stories, aliens and so much more are possible. I liked to have several things on hand for good sculpting results - several different sized plastic containers (great for shaping and transferring snow), small scoops and large plastic spoons (helps with detail work), spray bottle with water (good for giving a finish to sculpture or for adding moisture to a dry snow), then for small detail work plastic spoons/forks/knives are great and then we used other objects (sticks, rocks, vegetables, food color, etc.) for final details. I also have a couple small (child friendly) sized shovels for moving snow. Not all snow is good for sculpting. It depends a lot on the moisture content - fluffy snow with low moisture is lovely but doesn't hold together, slushy snow with high moisture is a mess. Test your snow by forming a snowball - if it packs well and stays together you're good to go!

Dry Paint and Ice Cube "Brush"
Ice Painting - Painting with ice is great fun for all seasons. I like using dry tempera paint sprinkled onto a large sheet of paper and use an ice cube from the freezer or even better, an icicle from outdoors as the brush. As the ice melts it dissolves the dry paint creating beautiful designs. If I'm using ice cubes I put in a popsicle stick when freezing them. With an icicle we get out our mittens or gloves - which is great fun! This can be a messy but rewarding project so cover table, floor and clothing well.
We have even painted with snow using this same technique. Sprinkle dry paint onto paper, add a scoop of snow and paint with a large long handled art bush. It doesn't take much snow to wet the paint.
This can get to be a soggy activity if you let it, so keep an eye on the amount of water that's being generated. Enjoy!!

1 comment:

  1. There's something about being outdoors that adds a spark to a child. Regardless of the weather, most children can't wait to get outside to play.