Looking back, I remember snow days fondly as days when the world was wide open. It was a free day to catch up and do whatever my childish heart desired; reading, sledding, throwing snowballs endlessly which would (for me) end up in freezing fingers needing swirls of mildly warm water to run over them to take away the pain of the cold. When my (now teen) children were younger, I hardly recalled the fun of snow days. Instead, as an adult with younger children (one with multiple diagnosis who thrives on routine…and movies), I found unexpected snow days to be the promise of torture and tantrums – or full on meltdowns. Sure, it was tempting to allow binging on movies only, but too many movies would inevitably bring about more torture for me later.
Planning for these days usually begins the night before when the snow is making its beautiful and peaceful dissent to the ground, promising to close school the next day. Movies would to be had, but were interchanged with play, chores and education. For instance, if he wanted to watch a movie, which you can bet he asked for the instant he awoke, he’d have to do something first. Visual timers were used and working through the arsenal would begin.
Below is a list of 30 activities I would use to help us get through these unexpected snow days:
1. Starfall.com: a fun, interactive, simple yet educational site for kids of various developmental levels.
2. Puzzles: Not too complicated, not too easy, though the early learning puzzles do hold attention for a time.
3. Books: Maybe your kiddo chose a huge dinosaur book for his Book Fair item this year. It should keep him busy (flipping not reading) for a bit.
4. Trains: enough said.
5. YouTube: see “Trains” above.
6. Volcano: a neighbor got all the kids some kind of volcano. I wasn’t sure if we needed to wait until it was warmer and experiment with it outside, but hey… when you have time on your hands and kids itching to do something… you do it.
7. Grow a Dino: he had received this for Christmas. I held on to it for for a time like this and I was sure that growing it would hold his attention for let’s say….10 minutes…. Maybe you have something like this laying around from the holidays?
8. Movies: but of course movies. The best part though, is we had “The Planet Earth” series. When it’s educational, I don’t feel quite as guilty. Then again, now there are so many streaming services that you don’t need to “own” any movie, but simply search for it.
9. Vacuum: oh, what….you didn’t think I’d forget that did you? Pushing and pulling of the vacuum gives some great sensory feedback, and thus, he’ll be vacuuming…at least 1 room.
10. Chase: fortunately, we have enough room to run in our house for chase…at least until my body told me it’s time to stop.
11. Hide and Seek: the kids had just re-discovered this one. The best part was finding a perfect hiding place, taking them a fair amount of time to find me. I covet quiet moments, even if they’re only a couple of minutes long.
12. Baking: Yes… what better thing could you put together to not only get sensory needs satisfied, take up a good amount of time (assuming you’re doing something like chocolate chip cookies from scratch), maybe a little math (depending upon your kid’s ages), AND fill your tummy with yummy treats!
13. Dance Parties: my kids have always really been into music. To get some extra energy out (when I was tired of chase), dance parties were a must. Everyone gets a turn choosing a song and then we danced…. or they danced and I got to encourage them. Sometimes we would see who can come up with the craziest dance moves.
14. Spa Days: you know you’ve been wanting to get at those little fingernails. This is especially hard when your kiddo has sensory issues. Why not make it fun and encourage “relaxation” by giving them a “spa” treatment with soaking their nails and doing the majority of what they can handle. Ease into the things that might cause him / her angst.
15. Fort Building: indoor (cushions, blankets, sheets, pillows) or outdoor (if you like igloos)
16. Simple Crafts: (here’s the Special Happens Craft Board)
17. Coloring / Painting: coloring pages (you can get free coloring pages from Crayola), finger painting, or homemade greeting cards.
18. Gaming Tournaments: (Wii / Xbox) checkers, other board games… UNO is a great game because you can use the recognition of colors and smaller numbers.
19. Snow Activities: shoveling, snowman building, snow angels and snow ice cream:
- 1/2 cups half & half or whole milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla
- 4 cups of clean snow or shaved ice
- Blend together until the sugar dissolves
- Add 4 cups of snow and stir until you get ice cream!
20. Make Videos: Sure, why not. Embrace the technology. Re-create a favorite movie scene, act out something at home, pretend to be animals, or film your dance parties.
21. Obstacle Course: obviously you want to make this to your kiddo’s physical level. But the repetition of moving the body in various ways not only will keep your kiddo thinking but moving! Place pillows randomly along the floor, step over pens / pencils, crawl thru tunnels, etc.
22. Indoor Bowling: Easy enough to do with plastic / paper cups and a roll of toilet paper!
23. Indoor picnic: Why not take your lunch and spread it out on a blanket?
24. DIY Slime – for the adventurous parent, here’s a recipe using items you have in your house:
- Mix 1/2 CU Shampoo with 1/4 Cornstarch (in a glass bowl)
- Add 3 drops of food coloring (optional – remember it might stain)
- Add 1 TBS Water (stir slowly)
- Add 5 TBS water (stirring slowly after each TBS)
- Work the mixture for a few minutes until it becomes the consistency you want
25. Homemade Granola: This kind of goes along with baking, but most of us rarely think about making it ourselves, yet it so simple.. here’s a couple recipes for you to try (and don’t forget this can be allergy friendly by using gluten free / allergy friendly substitutes:
- Cookie and Kate : The Very Best Granola
- House of Nash Eats: Easy Homemade Granola
- Like Mother Like Daughter: Simple Granola
26. Apple chips: Still baking, but this gives a new twist on eating apples. You simply need apples, white (or brown) sugar and ground cinnamon.
- Slice apples to desired thickness (thin, not too thick)
- Heat oven to 225 degrees
- Spread your apples on a baking sheet
- After mixing 1 1/2 tsp white sugar with 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon, sprinkle mixture over apples
- Bake until apples are done (you’ll know because the edges curl up)
- You can turn apples over mid-way if you want the mixture on both sides
- Approx 45 – 60 minutes total cooking time
- Let your apple chips cool before devouring
27. Kindness Messages: I can’t tell you how fun and positive this is to do with your kids both for them and the recipient. If you’re lacking creative, kind messages (ex., “You are Amazing” or “Every day is a new beginning”), simply google for positive quotes. Your kids will find ones that resonate with them, write them on a slip of paper and leave them around places people can find them… i.e, in a grocery card, on a neighbor’s doorstep etc).
28. Photo booth: You know those photo booths at parties that everyone loves? Why not do that at home. Makeup, jewelry, fun hats, leftover costumes…. make a designated area, put on some music and snap some photos of your kid’s fun.
29. Take a Warm Bath: Now I don’t know if this suggestion is really for them or for you, but I’m certain it will be perfect for whomever takes it. Add a little Epsom salt into the bath for more relaxation (nor more than a handful will do).
30. Come up with ideas for the next snow days ….
I hope this list helps you keep your kiddos occupied and worn out on snow days. It is Colorado after all, and you never know when a snow day will sneak up on you!