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Getting the kids to go out and play in the yard during the winter can sometimes be a daunting task. It's too coooooollld. I've had to get creative. Introducing Ten Awesome Ways You May Not Have Thought Of To Entertain the Kids in the Backyard When There Is Snow On The Ground!

1) Build a catapult.  Check out this link: how to build a catapult from a few pieces of wood and some surgical tubing. We made a course on the lawn with bulls-eyes. And meaningless 'points' for whoever got closest. Funny how fast kids make up rules and points when given a new game. 

2) Freeze some stuff.  The more interesting the shape of the 'container' the better. Bunt cake pans are cool... so are vases that don't narrow too much at the top... we also experimented with pie tins (I've got way too many of these). Stacking them together afterwards made a beautiful sculpture. PVC pipes that are capped at one end and filled with water make long tubes of ice (you might have to warm the outside with a kettle of boiling water or a hair dryer to get it out--we did). You can also freeze water balloons (with colored water of course--food coloring and snow are meant to go together) full of water and get cool round ice cubes.

3) Collect icicles. Once you look around, you'll notice not all icicles are created alike. Some are curved, some are long, some have skinny tips. Some are crystal clear and others are kind of smokey. Making an icicle collection from big to small can be lots of fun, so can making a ice jail for your transformers...

4) Paint in the snow. Fill some spray bottles, a few syringes, and a bowl or two with some colored water... be heavy handed with the food coloring--to make it stand out against the snow you'll need very saturated colors. Tramping down the snow before painting makes a better canvas. For added fun, make a snowman and paint him (or her) too.

5) Practice your Marksmanship. We've got a fence in the backyard that made for a perfect bulls-eye for snowball throwing. We practiced at different distances, from different angles, and when one landed on the top of the fence, we practiced doing it on purpose. As with the catapult, rules and point systems evolved instantly and naturally. None of them made sense to me, but it hardly mattered.

6) Blowing bubbles below freezing. Did you know if you blow bubbles on a cold day they will freeze? Get a plate and put a little bubble juice on it. Blow a bubble on to the plate (so that it is a half bubble) and set it outside for about a half an hour. If you're careful, you can (after the bubble is frozen) spray the bubble with a fine layer of colored bubble juice and freeze it again for a colored bubble. They don't last long, but they are pretty cool while they last. Others have frozen them on their bubble wands, but we didn't try this... if you do you might be able to see the ice crystals forming as it freezes.

7) Scavenger hunt in the snow. Hide items in the snow for the kiddos to find. Colored ice cubes are fun. Toys. Treats. Easter eggs. The possibilities are endless.

8) Create a snow maze. This was as fun to make as it was for the kids... to be honest it didn't last long. Kid feet don't stay in narrow paths as well as you might think. But it was fun all the same. Stomp down the snow into a maze with a 'prize' at the end (note this is also quite the brain workout for parents).

9) Track some animals. There is an added bonus to walking in the winter that you might not think of at first–the animals that use that same trail as you every day are no longer invisible.  They leave undeniable proof of their presence. Appeal to your child's inner detective and track those animals!

10) Eat it. Isn’t there some saying about drinking lemonade when life throws lemons at you? In the winter it's more like trying to make icees out of ice. Check out the link for recipes!

Chaco Ambassador Lindsey Wilson blogs at outsidemom.com, a blog for parents dedicated to taking full advantage of the experiences the natural world has to offer their family. When she's not blogging she's relaxing at Lake Tahoe, biking the Sierras before dawn or corralling her boys at the wetlands behind her house.

 

 

 

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