During the winter months, our kids certainly look forward to that exciting day where their school was cancelled for the day across the bottom of the TV screen due to snow. Ah, the wonderful SNOW DAYS we all used to love as young children! Although snow days are super fun for kiddos, as parents, we don’t look forward to them as much. In fact, we often dread snow days! How do we keep the kids busy? What if we are stuck in the house for days? Follow these helpful tips that will make any snow day fun, entertaining, and stress free for you as a parent!
· First thing is first! If the snow hasn't started falling yet, make a quick trip to the dollar or craft store and stock up on a few surprises. The newness of a few inexpensive toys or craft kits can hold boredom at bay. Always be sure to check out the clearance aisles at your local Wal-Mart or Target, you can find great deals on small toys or gadgets the kids will truly love!
· Rotate board games and toys so kids don't become bored and bring out hidden toys to make old ones seem brand new. Every few months (or at the end of each season), store some of the family games and toys away for a surprising unveiling later.
· Look around your house for unused or underused craft items. Pull those out alongside the glue, paint, scissors and paper. Nothing says "entertainment" more than magazines to rip up, cardboard toilet paper rolls, and discarded buttons and cloth trimmings. Sit down with your kids and see how creative you can be.
· Enjoy the snow! Dress warmly and explore the neighborhood. Go outside and build a fort. Gather local kids in the neighborhood and arrange a sledding event. You can even use food coloring and water outside to “paint” the snow. Make snow angels! Get creative, and, get some exercise by being active outdoors.
· Create a snow-day memory. Take photos of the day's activities and print them from your home computer. At the end of the day, give each child a piece of paper and some of the photos to create a collage of the day's events.
· Feeling hungry? Plan an indoor picnic! Involve your kiddos by having them hand write the menu! Use your child’s favorite foods right from your own pantry!
· Speaking of pantry, have a hidden stash of special “snow day” snacks that you typically do not always have on hand each day. Special snacks excite children, and keep them occupied. Perhaps you have a bag of baking goods and recipes available to make a special treat at home on your snow day! This is super fun, plus using the oven helps heat up the cold house!
· Make some music together. Put on a favorite CD and teach your children the words. Not a singer? Dance around the room with them. Be silly and watch as it become contagious.
· Design a treasure hunt with clues that will take the kids around the house, searching for hidden household odds and ends. Tuck a measuring cup on a bookshelf or hide a book under the rug. The winner earns a piece of candy or gets to decide what the family plays next. The hunt is the fun, no matter what the results.
· Put them to work! Chances are, your house needs to be cleaned, right? Create a list of household chores your children can participate in and “compete” against each other. You can judge their jobs and the winning team gets a special prize!
· If you still have power, get on the computer! Load educational games and let the kids take turns. Meanwhile, you can stick nearby and supervise while putting your feet up with a snowy-day book.
· Make a daily schedule! In order to keep yourself organized, and ensure the kids are having fun all day, create a visual schedule events for this special day – stick it on the fridge, and cross off each event as you complete it.
· Create a “snow day” tradition with your kids – every time your family has a snow day, set time for a specific event or activity…. Perhaps every snow day you watch a particular movie, or you make breakfast for dinner. This not only creates great memories, but also is an easy item to add to yours “snow day schedule.”
· If you’re feeling super brave, bring some snow inside in buckets for the kids to play in! A little water on the kitchen floor never hurt anyone! Plus, you will be the neighborhoods coolest parent by bringing snow into your house! Make a mini Frosty the snowman and stick him in the freezer, the kids will get a kick out of it!
Heather Grocott is the Director of The Children's Workshop in Lincoln, RI. She earned a BA from Providence College in Elementary and Special Education. She is pursuing a Master's Degree from Rhode Island College in Early Childhood education. Her true passion is not only working with children, but sharing knowledge with families and teachers in order to provide the best early learning experience for all young learners.