Snowmen and Beyond

When snow falls this winter, bundle up the kids and have some good, cold fun!

By Barbara Albright


A generous snowfall can mean family fun. Look beyond the traffic nightmares and back-breaking shoveling and take some time to enjoy the white stuff piled up outside your door.

A pristine expanse of freshly fallen snow is an invitation for snow angels. Create a family of snow angels by flopping down in the snow with the kids and moving your arms and legs back and forth. The angels will watch over the other snow creations as the day wears on.

Beyond Snowmen
The classic snowman is made of three large snow boulders stacked on top of each other. This year, make a snow family or snow creatures (dogs, cats, dinosaurs) instead of a single snowman.

Select a dark background, such as a brick wall or stand of evergreens, to show off the snow sculptures. Start rolling snowballs until they are large enough to push into place or carry a few yards to their destination.

The best snow for this project is slightly slushy. Conditions often are perfect the day after a big storm, when the sun softens the top layer.

Once the snow boulders are stacked, use mittened hands, garden trowels, or large kitchen spoons to smooth them into shape. Make sure the bottom boulder is especially sturdy.

Arms can be small fallen branches or snow arms - or the snow people can be armless.

Ransack the house for old caps, scarves, aprons, sunglasses, and other clothing items that will make the snow people distinctive. Use last summer's charcoal briquettes for eyes, pebbles for mouths (if you can find any), and the expected carrot for a nose. Colorful yarn or a discarded mop can be hair.

Let the kids decide what the snow people should carry to give them personality -- a rake, old skis, an old tennis racket, a wooden spoon, a football?

Glittering Ice Castles
Fill rinsed-out half-gallon milk cartons with water and set them outside to freeze overnight. Peel off the cartons and stack the brick-like ice blocks to make a small ice castle, igloo, or ice throne.

The ice bricks will adhere to each other if you spray them with water as you stack them.

Find other expandable containers around the house in which to freeze water. If the frozen shapes do not pop out easily, drop the containers in a bucket of warm water. After a very quick soak, they will release their frozen contents.

Use these shapes to decorate the ice structure - turrets, gate posts, towers, and so on.

For variety, fill the containers with water mixed with food coloring. The splashes of color are pretty against the snow - and kids love doing this.

Snow Painting
A snow-filled yard is the perfect canvas for painting. Add a few drops of food coloring to pans of water. Arm the kids with wide paint brushes and let them paint on the snow.

You can also fill spray bottles with colored water. Let the kids squirt away to make designs in the snow.

Spray different colors on snowballs and assign a color to each child. Outline a target in the snow with color. See who can get the most snowballs in the target.

Snowflake Investigation
Let the children hold large swatches of dark fabric or paper to catch falling snow. Use a magnifying glass to inspect the intricate patterns.