It seems that right as winter begins, we’re already rooting for the warmth of springtime. But the cold reality is, a chill will remain in the air, and a blanket of snow will cover the ground in many backyards for a few more months, at least. Why not embrace winter’s wonders with your child? You can enjoy some activities on this page from the snuggly comfort of your own kitchen. Others take you outside. All offer rich opportunities to spend time together and explore the season’s unique offerings.
- Create colorful icebergs. Fill a variety of plastic containers with water and food dye; then set them in the freezer until they solidify. Remove the colorful icebergs from their containers and have your child place them on a tray lined with white paper towels. What happens when they start to melt? How do their shapes change? Let the paper dry to create unique art you can later hang on the wall or refrigerator.
- Make a “snowbox.” Fill a large bucket or tin pan with snow and bring it inside for a winter variation on a miniature sandbox. Provide your child with gloves and digging tools to explore — how is playing with snow different from sand? Add a few colorful icebergs (above) as playthings.
- Let them melt. Invite your child to experiment with basic principles of temperature by placing a few ice cubes in strategic places both outside and in. Which cubes melt the fastest? Slowest? Will an ice cube melt outside? Your child may be surprised to discover the effect the sun has even on a cold day.
- Make indoor snowballs. In your kitchen, make play dough by mixing together 2 cups of flour, 1 cup of salt, 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, 1 1⁄2 cups of water, and a handful or two of glitter to make it shine. Pack the dough into snowballs of different sizes. What other “snow” sculptures can your child build with the dough? Try making mini snowmen, igloos, or snowflakes.
- Feed the birds. Build a birdbath out of snow together and fill the basin with birdseed or bread crumbs. Then invite your child to draw pictures of the birds (and squirrels) as they eat or to identify them using a wildlife guide. It’s a lovely way to teach your child about the animals that live in your area.