10 Save Your Sanity Snow Day Activities and Learning to Let it Go!
I like to think I am fairly flexible with messes in the house. With a toddler (and a husband), I have to be! 15 stuffed animals arranged in a circle eating pretend cookies: daughter. Pile of socks by the couch and under it: husband. Cards scattered around the floor as a path for animals to follow after eating cookie: (daughter). Water glass, wine glass, second water glass, coffee mug on counter: husband. Oh, I don't need to paint a picture for you! I have a funny feeling your home is similar to mine!
I try to limit the number of times I say, “In a minute” or “just let me finish this” when my daughter asks me to play. I truly try to be mindful when playing with her and actively engaged, not thinking how I really would like to sweep up that dust ball behind her doll's stroller. In the mornings as we get ready for work and school, I try not to rush and hurry her along. But, it is hard for me to just let it go.
I live in Washington, DC and recently Snowzilla arrived. (I liked Snowtorious B-I-G, but the media preferred Snowzilla...sigh). Knowing the snow storm was going to hit us, I planned some activities. AND resigned myself to the upcoming mess! We certainly had fun during the blizzard and resulting school days off, but here is how I saved my sanity during SIX days of no regularly scheduled activities or school. Yes, SIX days at home with 24 inches of snow on the ground. Serenity now!
10 Save Your Sanity Snow Day Activities
- Kitchen Chef! We cooked a lot together and I embraced the mess. We made banana bread, cookies, pancakes, egg muffins, scrambled eggs, vegetable soup, hot chocolate with marshmallow skewers, pizza, and fruit salad together. My daughter loved stirring, measuring, whisking, pouring, using the mixer, and cutting with me. Yes, I did say 'cut'. She uses Curious Chef nylon knives with a little help from me. Soft foods like bananas she can cut independently. Firmer foods I assist, but she still enjoys the thrill of cutting. Letting her wash the dishes is also fun. Yes, water everywhere and I had to rewash, but she enjoys the water play and feels like she is helping. Win-win!
- Winter Art Show! I set out winter paint colors and a variety of painting tools for her to create winter masterpieces. Using different shades of blue paired with pale pink, white, and purple she painted with brushes, squished with sponges, rolled rollers, and brushed paint with a toothbrush. We also painted with our hands and enjoyed the texture and squishiness of paint between our fingers. Watch your mailboxes family members, you will be receiving some of these masterpieces!
- Artic Animal Rescue! We rescued Artic animals from ice with salt and warm water. I filled a large plastic container half way full with water. She placed plastic Artic animals inside. I placed it in the freezer. We discussed solids and liquids as we periodically checked the status of our Artic ice. Once frozen we filled the container with water and she added a second layer of Artic animals. Freeze again. While waiting for our ice to freeze we made blue salt by adding a few drops of blue food coloring to a container of salt and then doing a shaking dance. Once the water was frozen, I placed the container on a cookie sheet with the rescue materials: blue salt, warm bowl of water, pipettes, and a child's knife. Let the rescue mission begin! This activity she worked on over the course of a day and was thrilled when all animals had been rescued.
- Valentine's Crafts! We got an early start on Valentine's Day and started making Valentine's cards. I recently picked up pink washi tape, heart foam stickers , and a giant plastic heart from Target. Being snow bound gave us a great opportunity to get creative. I had planned to use her decorated plastic heart as part of our dining table décor for Valentine's Day. Looks like my daughter had another idea. She gave it to her cat, Petunia....awww!
- Upcycle! Much to my husband's dismay, I have stashes of random items for craft upcycling: paper towel tubes, corks, empty plastic spice containers, packaging inserts, etc. Today I grabbed cardboard inserts from boxes to complete a winter wonderland for our Artic animals. I thought the novelty of the shape would be interesting for her. We decided to paint the inserts white and use them as a snowy mountain range for the Artic animals. Turned out great!
- Snow Science! I pulled out her science materials and brought in a bucket of snow. She scooped and measured. She weighed and balanced. No need to have scales, just pull out your measuring spoons, measuring cup, and a variety different sized bowls. Lots of nice independent play and exploration, so I could sit with my coffee and ignore the messes in my house.
- Painting Snow! We did not have water colors, so I mixed food coloring with water to create her own water color palate. Later she enjoyed using her pipettes to drop colors onto the snow. If you have not tried this activity yet, it is definitely an exciting art project. I present to you Kate's “Rainbow Snow Cloud”!
- Snow Mountain! We pulled pillows from the couch and pillows from the beds, piling them all into the middle of the living room floor. I covered the pillow mound with a white sheet and North Mountain appeared right in our very own living room. In addition to the wonderful re-enactments of Frozen scenes, she received some much needed gross motor and sensory motor exercise!
- Water Beads! Water beads are those squishy beads often found in floral arrangements. They arrive as tiny dry balls, just add water to these polymers and watch them grow. The polymers absorb water and become these fabulous squishy balls. They are fantastic sensory fun for kids and proved to be another great setting for our Artic animals. I had previously purchased water beads with the intention of taking them into her school for a fun class project. Snowzilla created an opportunity to use them at home. Together we measured the dry beads and measured the water. Overnight the polymers soaked. The squishy sensory fun began the next morning!
- Escape from Marshmallow Obstacle Course! Kate loves to pretend Marshmallow from Frozen is chasing her. That means I am lumbering behind her in a hulking pose bellowing, “Go away!” and “Don't Come Back!” I expanded this activity into another gross motor/sensory motor activity. First, climb onto the end of the couch and crawl its length. Second, run to the frozen fjord and jump from pillow to pillow; don't fall in the icy water! Next, crawl under the table and blow a cotton snow ball out of your way. Fourth, run around the dining room and crawl through the North Mountain tunnel with the end draped in a snowy blanket. Last, climb to the top of North Mountain (snow mountain #8). The joy of obstacle courses is that you can change it endlessly to keep the activity novel.
Of course, we played in the snow each morning and each afternoon! These snow day activities just helped break the monotony of being snow bound. Want to know the best part about being snowed in for me? I let it go! I did not fret about the dishes piling up on the counter. I giggled as we shrugged off our snow clothes and left them piled by the door. I stepped over the little snow puddles left from our boots. I did not immediately sweep the crumbs from the floor. I left play villages and scenarios on the floor for continued play. I did not fold the blankets each night, instead leaving them tossed on the couch for another fort. The pillows were not perfectly staged on the couch, instead strewn on the floor as carousel animals on her pretend merry-go-around or for North Mountain. I let work take a back seat to enjoying my daughter's wonder. I lingered at the window watching with my daughter for that first magical snowflake to fall. I cheered with her when that first flake danced by the window. I had a wonderful 6 day weekend learning to let it go. As for my husband's socks, they are still there and they don't bother me anyway!
Blog post notes: Fun things to do on a snow day, kids activities and winter activities for toddlers