Changing dreary to cheery: Keep little snow angels warm, amused, and playfully learning this winter

It was Aristotle who noted that “To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold.” True. And hardly anything beats the sparkly splendor of a fresh-fallen snow. However, what if it’s just too cold? Or what comes after the outdoor, close-up snowflake appreciation?

When temperatures allow, getting kids outside during winter can be really good for them. The time-honored possibilities of sledding, skiing, snowboarding, snowball fights, and igloo- and snowman-building are fairly foolproof, good-time fun.

But more than one great thinker has carved out some fun, fresh ways to help kids enjoy the white stuff. For example, How Wee Learn posted “15 Fun Things to Do in the Snow.” One suggestion is to tie-dye it! (Actually, it’s snowpainting with markers and water.) They also repost an idea from Growing a Jeweled Rose on how to make a snow volcano using tightly packed snow, vinegar, baking soda, and food coloring! They also pull an idea from Housing a Forest on making beautiful colored icicles that will elicit oohs and ahhs for sure.

How about a few fun facts to up the snow appreciation factor whether stomping around outside or admiring it through a window? Mental Floss has put together “15 Incredibly Cool Facts about Snow.” For example, they tell us that “snow is translucent not white.” It is light reflecting off faceted surfaces that makes it appear white, and in some places and conditions, it can also appear blue or pink.

We get lots of it, too. Mental Floss says each winter in the U.S., at least one septillion—that’s 24 zeroes--“ice crystals fall from the sky”! We definitely like to spread our wings in it. Nova Scotia holds the record for most snow angels made simultaneously in multiple locations--22,022 in 130 places in 2011, and North Dakota holds the record for most snow angels made at once in the same place—8,962 people back in ’07. On a less angelic note, the largest snowball fight ever involved 5,834 people in Seattle back in 2013.

Some days the temperatures drop too low to think about setting records or kids simply want to stay put inside. In that case, consider this charming 4-game Card Game Collection for the preschool and kindertarten crowd. Match prehistoric animals to their skeletons and learn their names in a mighty memory game called Dino Dig. Or be the first to slap the Farmer Jack and collect all the cards while learning farm-related words. Farm Animal Rummy is a very cute variation of a classic card game that can help kids improve their concentration, recognize matches, and gain confidence. It also helps with counting, matching, and learning farm animal names. Or challenge players to a barnyard showdown with Memory Match Farm. Games involving matching sharpen focus and visual memory--important for reading, writing, and lots of everyday activities.

Multiplayer games also help build soft skills including cooperation, collaboration, communication, teamwork, and empathy. Practice a little healthy competition too!

Another option is to give kids hours of playful practice in important skills with write-and-reuse workbooks that encourage exploration and re-do’s! Try it once, then wipe it all away to start over and make it even better. Preschool Wipe-Clean Fold-Out Fun! Big Workbook helps little hands trace letters and numbers again and again until it’s second nature or connect the dots to form a flashy fish. By teaching colors, shapes, the alphabet, basic phonics, numbers, early math, and more, this great play set sets the stage for school success. With Kindergarten Wipe-Clean Fold-Out Fun! Big Workbook kids match numbers to their word names, make uppercase and lowercase letters, count to 100, or guide a pirate parrot from point A to point Z! By teaching the alphabet, beginning sounds, counting, addition, subtraction, careful observation, and more, this set prepares kindergartners for successfully taking the next step. First Grade Wipe-Clean Fold-Out Fun! Big Workbook helps first-graders do addition and subtraction problems, use equations to get through a maze, and finish incomplete words. Try again or share with a friend.

Each Fold-Out Fun! package has a 240-page tablet workbook with tear-out pages; a write-and-resuse double-sided, fold-out activity panel; a wipe-clean marker; and 22 playful reward stickers that boost confidence, celebrate achievement, and add to the all-around fun.

Whether we love the snow, tolerate it, or fear it—known as chionophobia—winter in cold places offers up lots of options for taking the cold and dreary and making it warm, productive, and cheery!