Planning Ahead: 10 Outdoor Ideas for a Snow Day
When it snows enough to cancel school, the day starts early. Once the weather warms up enough to be outdoors, here is a list of a list of engaging activities that will keep kids learning. . .even if they don’t realize it. In each activity, the learning opportunity area is highlighted in italics.
- Find a table, cups, and a thermos to create a hot chocolate stand (a winter version of a lemonade stand) for the neighborhood. Make it unique by adding a “flavors bar” with mint, cinnamon sugar, or other items that would add to the taste. Learning opportunity: math (ingredient measurements, money counting) culinary (cooking and experimenting with flavor).
- Take outdoor photos of landscapes, icicles, neighborhood snowmen, frozen branches, covered cars, and other winter scenes. Play with different ways to photograph scenes using filters, lenses, and experimenting with a camera’s physical position to catch the details of an image. Learning opportunity: photography.
- Make and hang bird feeders out of birdseed with paper towel rolls and glue, or a string of popcorn that is placed onto branches. Ask kids to watch the birds when they come to dine. Kids can log what each bird does, draw pictures of the birds, and keep lists or descriptions of the kinds of birds they see. Learning opportunity: biology, art.
- Create drawings that experiment with the palate of colors that are visible on a snow day. Kids may notice that during the high part of the day outdoor spaces might be full of a brighter white, while towards later hours there may be more shades of pink, purple, gray or brown. Learning opportunity: art and drawing.
- Have a snowflake counting contest. The person who counts the most in 30 seconds, one minute, or any other determined time-period, is the winner. Learning opportunity: mathematics (counting).
- Build a set of snow ramps to slide down while sitting or to sled down. Measure how far a sled can travel on ramps of differing sizes. Learning opportunity: mathematics (angles and momentum).
- Take some time to pack the snow to make a winter theater. Look for stones, branches, leaves, or other items to decorate the stage with. Then improvise a play and entertain family and friends. Learning opportunity: creative writing/performance art.
- Set up an area in the backyard with targets such as playground balls, plastic bottles, and sturdy toys. Invite friends or siblings to knock down items with snowballs. This can become a contest for older kids are feeling competitive. Learning opportunity: mathematics (aiming and angles).
- Take a nature walk and ask kids to keep a list of all the winter animals and of what they observe. Learning opportunity: biology.
- Take kids outdoors with a ruler and walk through the yard, measuring how high the snow is in various spots around home. Log the amounts and then put it aside until later when kids can check again to see how it may have changed during the day. If there are changes, talk about why. Learning opportunity: weather science.