Thursday, January 4, 2018

Got Snow?

Needle felting--how I play the day
away when the kids are asleep!
I remember the excitement I used to feel as a little girl when in the wee hours of the morning, before the sun came up, I could hear the sound of snowplows traveling back and forth our suburban street. Surely there would be a snow day in the morning! What was it we were supposed to do with our pajamas to get a snow day again, wear them backwards or inside out? S cried this morning when we told him preschool was closed. So yeah, that happened! Nonetheless, once his initial disappointment surpassed (and my heart is so truly happy that school is a place he loves so much!) he settled into the excitement of the snow day with everyone at home. Here in Virginia, a few inches of fluffy white snow is enough to shut the world down. Nonetheless, I am southern enough now to no longer own a snow shovel (I used a dustpan on my front stoop) and to not really like these below freezing temperatures enough to brave the great outdoors. Plus we have all been fighting some runny noses around here so bringing the snow inside seemed like a great compromise this morning. Whether you're shut in or laughing at everyone who is, whether you approach a snow day with anticipation or trepidation, we've got you covered here at Play-a-Day for some fun snow day play!

Inspired by some recent posts from northern connections enjoying snowy sensory sensory play indoors, I scooped up a generous portion of our front stoop snow collection into our sensory bin and added in a couple of ice cream scoops, some plastic dishes, an empty plastic ice cream cone and some jars of colored water (red, blue and yellow food coloring added to a bit of water) plus pipettes for this Snow Cone Sensory Bin. I encouraged both boys not to actually eat the snow cones. Only one of them listened...

Y got his fill of "snow cones" and moved on to some play time in the living room while S got busy preparing snow cones, snow castles and, with the addition of a baby carrot nose, two pretzel sticks for arms and a couple of raisin eyes, even a tiny little indoor snowman! I love using pipettes for fine motor and transfer practice and S absolutely adores them as well. He played for over an hour in our Snow Cone Sensory Bin before he got hungry for some raisins and pretzels for snack (coincidence?)...

Variety is the spice of life and with just the right amount of snow, the possibilities are as limitless as patterns in a snowflake. Here are some more indoor and outdoor snow play ideas...

Both boys adore a great fingerplay and action rhyme. S has been a fan of "Five Little Snowmen" since he was just a baby and now Y is following suit...
He particularly likes hearing this while eating
pureed carrots...another coincidence? 
Meanwhile, S really has enjoyed making paper snowflakes this year. There are many great ways to make paper snowflakes and one of my favorite ways to introduce the activity in a pretty fool-proof method for early learners is with white paper coffee filters. This year I set an activity basket with all the materials for creating colorful paper snowflakes and visual directions I created and printed. S did the activity with me the first couple of times, but has returned to the basket repeatedly to do it on his own. He feels so proud to be able to fold the paper in half and in half again and in half again... It combines two of his very greatest loves: cutting with scissors and spraying with spray bottles!
We used white coffee filters, washable markers in a variety of cool tones, scissors,  a dark washcloth for placing under the work and spray bottle of water and a wooden tray for collecting small scraps before they are thrown away.

 I used photos to create visual directions for S so even after being walked through the activity with support the first time, he would have a reminder to do it independently in the future. We begin by coloring the coffee filter. I always inform my young artists that the appearance of their artwork will change after cutting and spraying so they do not become attached to a carefully planned illustration only to have it altered at the end! Next we fold the filter in half and in half again and again...and begin to cut out little shapes along the folds and center... S experimented a few times before getting the hang of this. I welcome "mistakes" as they are how we learn best and S did not become frustrated with this either. When we are done cutting, we set the folded coffee filter on top of a dark colored washcloth (so color will not stain) and spray a few times with water until it is completely saturated. I fold the washcloth over once to press out any excess water before carefully unfolding and revealing the resulting snowflake. Once dry, they can be hung in a window, strung from the ceiling or displayed wherever you like!

Some of our other snow day favorites are visiting our U-Pick-a-Project Basket, a collection of craft kits or simple projects for days or times that beg for something fun and exciting on a whim. S has been really into woodworking kits with his Tatty. Today they built a tzedakah box that we hung in our kitchen at his level. He was so excited to put in one penny, one nickel, one dime and one quarter after doing almost all of the hammering himself! You can find great arts and crafts kits on discount at craft supply stores after certain seasons, at Dollar Tree Stores or Walmart, or even create your own when you have leftovers from home or school projects. Some of our other favorites are making bookmarks, using coloring, paint or sticker books, and let's not forget playdough!

Snow days are great days for warming up in the kitchen. Whether you prepare something to eat or to play with, cooks of all ages love to join in! Perhaps you might make some Arctic Slime to play with or try your hands at another science experiment... S gets a kick out of popping popcorn on the stove-top and enjoying the resulting snack. And even Mommies who love to play need a little play break now and then...this is when I put some freshly popped popcorn into a movie style popcorn bag and set up a video for a bit!

A snow day at home is a welcome interruption to our usual routine here today, but I think we are all hopeful that school will open again in the morning! Until then, check out some more inspiration for snowy day fun at home and, as always, happy playing!

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