The snow is falling and the temperatures are dropping. It’s winter! Whether the weather is keeping your kiddos indoors or they’re all about exploring the great (and chilly) outdoors, your children can learn from winter family activities. That’s right, learn. From the science of snow to turning your winter-white yard into a mega canvas that leading to artistic inspiration, these awesome activities will educate, entertain and kick your child’s imagination into high gear.
It’s time for some snowy science! Even young children (toddlers and preschoolers) can learn about states of matter with this easy winter activity. Go outside and play in the snow. At first, it doesn’t sound too educational. As your kids roll snow balls, build snow friends and make their own igloo, ask them to feel the white fluffy stuff. As they step on it and pack it into snowy spheres, ask if it feels solid (like a baseball does). Now bring it inside. Put the snow (preferably in ball form) into a plastic container. Check back on it every 10 minutes, watching what happens. When it melts, ask your child to touch what’s left behind (the water). Is it still a solid or something else?
Get artsy and use the layer of snow that’s covering your yard as a super-sized canvas. Fill squeeze bottles with powdered tempera paint and water. Let your little artist get creative and paint with the squeeze bottles on the snow. They can make abstract art or design their own picture (maybe a family portrait?).
Brrr! It’s freezing outside. So, stay in—and make a few mugs of hot cocoa. Yes, it’s a tasty treat, but your child’s hot chocolate can also be a learning opportunity. Grab a bag of mini marshmallows (after all, what’s cocoa without marshmallows?). Your child can use them spell their first name. Line the marshmallows up, and ‘write’ each letter one at a time. Then clear the letters and pop them into the steaming hot chocolate.
Your child just finished spelling their name in mini marshmallows. Even though those marshmallows are squishy, they’re still pretty solid. Take a moment before tossing them into the cocoa to have your kiddo predict what will happen when the marshmallows hit the hot liquid. Keep the scientific process going and observe the melting marshmallows as they sit in the cocoa. Your child can even take notes or draw pictures of what’s happening in a science journal. Compare and contrast the marshmallows melting with snow melting, listing the similarities and differences.
How do those polar creatures keep warm? Do they wear coats? Um, no (unless you count their fur). Try the classic ‘blubber glove’ experiment to show your child one way that animal’s stay warm in below chilly temps. Talk about blubber and how it helps to insulate animals in cold weather. Instead of real blubber, fill a plastic glove with shortening (leave enough room for them to fit their hand in). Yes, your child’s hand will get greasy. But, they’ll be having too much fun to care. Have their put their blubber glove-covered hand into a container of snow. Ask your child if their hand is cold or warm. Now, ask them to figure out why!
Your child knows what snow looks like. It’s the white stuff that falls from the sky. But, does They really know just how intricate each flake it? Grab a magnifying glass and go outside! Have your child pick up a pinch of snow, and separate out a few flakes. They can try spreading the snow out on their gloved fingers. Use the magnifying glass to get into the details of each flake. Have your child describe what they see. When you go inside, they can draw or paint a version of their outside observations.
You’ve done the snow to water solid to liquid experiment. Now it’s time to put a twist on it. Instead of using regular tap water to mix up a batch of water colors, use snow. As your child watches it melt, they can dip a paintbrush into the icy, watery slush. Add this to watercolor paint and create a winter wonderland scene.
A fresh coat of snow is like the world’s largest sheet of blank paper. Your child can walk their way to learning their letters, while playing in the snow! As they walk around the yard, they can use their footprint to spell out words. Your child can walk-write their name in the snow, the alphabet, or spell new vocabulary words.
Fill ice cube trays with water. You can add a drop of food coloring into each compartment to make a rainbow of hues. Put the trays outside and periodically observe them to see how quickly the water freezes. After the water is frozen, pop out the cubes and let your little builder create a castle, a skyscraper or anything they want. Think of the ice as frozen building blocks that will stick in the snow.
Take a family trip outside into the snowy weather. Start with a snowball and keep rolling the chilly stuff until you have a base for a snow person. Continue on, creating a middle and a head. Repeat for each family member—sizing the snowpeople to match each a child’s or adult’s size. Add stick arms, button eyes and accents (such as dad’s hat or little sis’s scarf) to complete your snow family self-portrait.
The cold weather doesn’t have to equal days spent indoors starring at a screen. Help your child to learn a thing or two about science, art, the alphabet or the great outdoors with winter family activities. From squeeze bottle snow painting to making blubber gloves (it’s really not as gross as it sounds—well, maybe it is), your child can learn while having fun!