Cold and snowy days are an inevitable part of the winter season here in the Upper Midwest, so we might as well find ways to enjoy them. Get into the spirit with some of these fun outdoor activities. And after you’ve expended your energy outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors as well.
Take a snowshoe hike.
Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family, and go on a trek through the woods or a field. Take your compass. But also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities.
Visit an ice sculpture show.
Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks, and indoor arenas. Check with your local and nearby chamber of commerce or state travel bureau for events listings.
Visit a zoo.
During the winter months, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits are easier to view because of smaller crowds.
Build an igloo or snow fort.
Choose a day when the snow is suitable for packing. Use a square or rectangular container for building snow forts, which are often found in toy departments. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support.
Have a snow-sculpting contest, and invite your neighbors to participate.
Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it with your hands again.
Make an ice tree.
Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, turn it into a winter display. Stand it in your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect.
If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down them. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR BLUSTERY DAYS
Create an indoor snow family.
Buy black and white clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons from whole pepper, and noses from broken orange-colored toothpicks.
Hold a winter movie fest.
Rent or stream a selection of movies, and have everyone grab pillows or beanbag chairs. Don’t forget the buttery popcorn and hot chocolate. If you’ve had enough of winter, hold a Hawaiian luau instead. Choose summery or vacation themed movies. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don’t forget the beach towels.
Make up funny and put on a show for parents and neighbors.
Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Stream it live to friends and family or record it for sharing later online.
Put together a winter emergency kit.
Include spare hats, mittens, scarves, and boots, a flashlight, and other items in case you get stranded. Your home kit should include items for a snow-in or power loss. Have everyone work together to create a list and gather items for the kits.
String a snowflake streamer.
Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes then string them on a piece of yarn, and hang it across the room.
Visit the library to snuggle up for a relaxing read.
When you arrive, learn how and where to find books on your interests such as sports, science, or a hobby. Then choose several books to bring home. Don’t forget to check out music CDs, audiobooks, videos, computer games, and magazines for plenty of indoor entertainment.
Make a winter-safety trivia game.
Buy a pack of small index cards. Then write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.