Winter is here and there’s snow in the forecast. Last winter, we got eight feet in just a month. It didn’t take long for the daily sledding and snowmen to grow a bit stale. Thankfully, that didn’t mean we had to be stuck inside for a full day of screen time. My kids thrive outside, where there’s plenty of space to explore and fresh air to tire them out. There are plenty of options for enjoying a snow day at home or around the neighborhood. Here are some of our favorites.

  1. Painting snow on the balcony at Nana and Poppy's house.

    Painting snow on the balcony at Nana and Poppy’s house.

    Painting snow. Mix several small bowls of warm water with a few drops of food coloring. Bring them outside and use paintbrushes to decorate the snow outside. You can paint fresh snow on the ground, snow sculptures that you’ve already created, or bowls and trays of snow that you’ve gathered. Alternatively, put your coloring solutions into spray or squeeze bottles to make a bigger masterpiece. We particularly like this on wet, slushy days because we can go outside to gather the snow into bowls, and then paint them on a covered porch or balcony for more protection.

  2. Frozen snow catcher!

    Frozen snow catcher!

    Make a frozen sun catcher. It’s a lot harder to find natural treasures in the snow, but go for a walk and gather what you can. We found some leaves, wild berries, seeds, and pine needles. Line a pie tin with plastic wrap and arrange your treasures in it. We added some cross sections of apples and lemons just for fun. Add water and place a length of string in the tray. This is how you’ll hang your sun catcher so make sure it is strong enough. If the string is floating on the water, place something on top of it so that it will freeze into the ice, not on top of it. Cover the tray and place it somewhere safe to freeze. After it’s frozen, bring it inside and run some warm water over the pie tin to help peel it off the plastic. Hang it someplace outside where you’ll enjoy seeing it everyday.

  3. Construction crew hard at work.

    Construction crew hard at work.

    Construction project. My kids like to have a task, so when I get out their trucks and shovels and tell them they need to clear a road through the snow, they get to work. The bonus is that this road can later double as a track for cars, foot races, or dog walks. Even through last year’s snowmageddon, the kids maintained a big shoveled loop around the backyard that allowed them to use their trucks and ride-on toys all winter long.

  4. Frozen sand castles!

    Frozen sand castles!

    Get out the sand toys. Beach toys are also great in the winter. If you live near a beach, the sand may be stiffened just enough by the ice that you can make some really cool frozen sand castles. But even if you don’t live near a beach, you can still use the sand molds right in the snow to create your own frozen world.

  5. Playgrounds are usually deserted when the white stuff falls.

    Playgrounds are usually deserted when the white stuff falls.

    Hit the playground. Just like summer toys, playgrounds tend to get forgotten once the snow starts to fall. In a light coating of snow, you can enjoy all the same playground toys without worrying about much of a crowd. In a heavier snowfall, bring your car scraper or a shovel to clear a path or go crazy down the slide into a fluffy pile of fresh snow. I’ve even seen some wild sled rides down the wider playground slides. Just make sure you wear a helmet if you’re getting crazy.

  6. Snow play in the playroom, always a hit.

    Snow play in the playroom, always a hit.

    Take it inside. Try as we might to spend all day outside, it’s just possible for the kids sometimes. When we’ve had it with outside snow play, we bring the snow inside. Spread a shower curtain or table cloth on the floor, fill some bowls, sensory trays, or tupperware up with snow and go at it. Or, even more fun – fill the bathtub with it. Your kids will likely relish the chance to use toys in the snow that normally never make it outside. They can build a track for cars and trucks, a cave for animals or a castle for kings and queens.

There are no doubt many snow days still ahead of us this winter. Don’t let the monotony get you down. Embrace some new snow day activities and they just might become your new tradition.