Sunday, January 5, 2014

Stay Home, Stay Warm. 5 Activities to Beat the Winter Blues

If case you didn't know, it's freezing outside!  The roads are slippery and there are warnings from all the local news stations telling you to stay inside unless you have to be out in this weather.  What is there to do when the weather outside is frightful?  Plenty!  Here are some ideas to get the wheels in your home turning so that these cold winter days aren't full of electronic-playing, bored children.  

1. Make Oobleck.  This is a super fun science activity that just requires water and corn starch and will have you and your kids asking, "is it a liquid or is it a solid?".  
What you'll need: 1 c water, 1.5-2c corn starch.  Optional: food coloring
Directions: start with 1 cup of water and 1.5 cups of corn starch and mix in a bowl.  Add food coloring if you wish.  Submerge a finger (or utensil if you would prefer to stay clean) and if it hardens where you touch it, it's ready.  If it reacts like a solid then add more corn starch.  When it's ready, keep it in the bowl or pour it into a few if you have more than one child.  You could also pour it into a cookie sheet that has sides or a pan.  Anything will do, as long as it can't spill over, because it will!  
Our Oobleck
Play!  You can pour it, roll it into a ball (as long as you use forceful pressure), "walk" across it with your fingers to see if they sink, lay your hand flat across it and watch it sink.  Try to squish a bunch in your hands then stop and watch it liquify.  I've even seen videos where they make a huge amount and have their kids run across it!  It is potentially very messy, but it is really easy to clean up with a damp wash cloth. 

2. Make Snow Ice Cream.  There's snow everywhere, so take advantage!  
What you'll need: 8 cups of snow, 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 1 tsp vanilla extract.
Help your kids gather the snow (or let them do it if you trust their snow instincts) and place in a large bowl.  Add the condensed milk and extract.  Mix well and serve immediately.  Makes 8-10 servings. 

3. Make Corn Starch Clay for Ornaments or Play.  This looks much nicer than the popular salt dough and is just as fun to play with.  In case you only have the ingredients for salt dough, or you want to compare for yourself the link provides a nice comparison with photos and I'll include directions for the salt dough.  Get started on Christmas 2014 or just make it for fun. 
-What you'll need: (Corn Starch Clay) 1 cup cornstarch, 2 cups baking soda, 1 1/4 cups water.  Optional: food coloring.  Combine in a pan on the stove set on low heat.  Add food coloring if you wish.  Stir until thick (5-10 minutes).  Let it cool then then knead it until smooth.  Make your ornaments or play.  Use Play Doh tools if you have any. Bonus: warming your kitchen!
-What you'll need: (Salt Dough) 1 cup salt, 1 cup water, 2 cups flour.  Blend well and knead until smooth.  No heating necessary.  Play or make your ornaments. 

4. Break out the cardboard.  12 toys/activities from cardboard.  These ideas cover many age groups and hobbies.  
What you'll need: cardboard, imagination and each activity has items including yard or ribbon, markers, scissors, fabric, etc.  This activity allows for so much creativity.  If you make the cars you can have your very own drive-in movie in your living room.  No admittance without an awesome car and license!!  

5. Make a coffee filter snowflakeDecorate the house or keep the kids busy, either way these easy snowflakes will look fabulous.  You can make these with regular paper (scrap paper works too!) as well.  
What you'll need: coffee filters or paper, scissors.  

Bonus activity: 45 chores for ages 18 months-7 years and beyond.  Get your house clean and make it a family affair.  Blast some fun music to make it feel less like work. 

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