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Snow day survival guide

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Mistletoes will be a cherished keepsake long after the patter of the little footsteps captured are gone. Mistletoes will be a cherished keepsake long after the patter of the little footsteps captured are gone. The Yule Blog, Dec. 17
8 days until Christmas

Here are a handful of craft and baking ideas to keep snowbound kids happy indoors

Old Man Winter doesn’t officially arrive until Dec. 21, but you couldn’t tell that by the weather here in South Jersey. And for school-age kids, icy, blustery weather means just one thing – snow days!

Children love them, but snow days – as well as Christmas vacation, winter break and weekends – offer special challenges for parents. Once the kids have had their fill of building snowmen, making snow angels and sledding, how can you keep them productively preoccupied without resorting to passive play, such as computer games?

For answers, ask a teacher! My daughter Garland teaches prekindergarten children and toddlers, and she and her colleagues are always on the lookout for clever activities that will creatively engage kids for an hour or two. She shared the following craft and baking projects with me, and I happily pass them on to you.

Though these projects are geared toward very young kids, you can bet the older ones will want to help too, especially when it comes to the cupcakes.

Mistletoes

This adorable craft is a real keeper and a great gift for grandparents – and it’s easy. Dip a sponge into green craft paint, being sure to fully saturate it, and press the sponge to the bottom of your little one’s bare feet. Then press the child’s feet one by one onto a piece of construction paper (see photo for proper placement). With colored markers, add red ribbon and Christmas ornaments, as well as the word “Mistletoes” in pretty script.


Making an egg carton tree can keep little hands busy for hours. Making an egg carton tree can keep little hands busy for hours.

Egg-carton Christmas Tree

Variations on this idea have been around since I was a kid, so this one has stood the test of time. Paint an empty egg carton with green craft paint. After the paint dries, cut the carton into pieces, arrange the pieces in the shape of a tree, glue them onto a piece of poster board or construction paper, and add craft-store pom-poms and glitter.

This simple craft is appropriate even for the littlest little ones, who will have fun getting messy, and enjoy seeing their finished work on the fridge or family bulletin board. You can also make egg-carton snowmen with white craft paint. While you’re at it, it’s an eggcellent idea to talk about recycling with your child, and how to repurpose common items into eco-friendly art.


Kids will have fun going on an ‘expedition’ and chipping the dinosaurs out of this ice block. Kids will have fun going on an ‘expedition’ and chipping the dinosaurs out of this ice block.

Ice Age

Here’s a variation on “Jurassic Park” that’s fun as well as educational. Fill a plastic bin with water and add plastic dinosaurs, the kind you can buy in a toy or variety store. Put the bin in the freezer until the water freezes, and then pry out the block of ice into an even larger bin (you can also put it in the sink or tub).

Then, using kid-friendly utensils, chisel out the dinosaurs. Use this opportunity to share some information about the Ice Age and prehistoric animals. You can then settle in and watch a related movie such as “Dawn of the Dinosaurs,” “The Land That Time Forgot,” “Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend,” and of course “Ice Age.”


Bubble bears cupcakes. bubble bears cupcakes

Bubble Bears

Bake up some chocolate cupcakes and top them with cream-cheese icing tinted with blue food coloring. Add a Teddy Graham to the edge of each cupcake, and then add marshmallows to look like bubbles. These confections are great for holiday parties and dessert exchanges.


Candy cane heart cakes. Candy cane heart cakes.

I Heart Candy Canes

Here’s another sweet idea that will look pretty on a holiday table. Bake some vanilla cupcakes, ice them with white icing and then sprinkle with coconut. Add two small candy canes in the shape of a heart. That’s all there is to it.

Sandy Claus Ornament

Buy some white or colored sand and clear plastic fillable ball ornaments from the craft store – the kind with an opening at the top, and the bigger opening the better. Using a funnel and working over newspaper or a large pan, have kids pour in the sand, filling the ball only about one-quarter to one-third full. Add small seashells and Cracker Jack-sized trinkets like tiny flip flops, sunglasses, etc., and then cap the ornament, adding a dot or two of glue to secure the cap. Make a hanger using a piece of ribbon or raffia tied off into a bow. Kids will enjoy shaking these gently to see the hidden shells rise to the top.

This simple craft is appropriate even for the littlest little ones, who will have fun getting messy, and enjoy seeing their finished work on the fridge or family bulletin board. You can also make egg-carton snowmen with white craft paint. While you’re at it, it’s an eggcellent idea to talk about recycling with your child, and how to repurpose common items into eco-friendly art.


This ornament filled with sand and shells is easy to make. This ornament filled with sand and shells is easy to make.

These are just a few ideas to keep snowbound kids busy and to create some holiday mementos. Do you have a great idea for a holiday craft or activity? Please share it with our readers in the comment section below. 


The Yule Blog is a day-to-day countdown to Christmas featuring a new story each day. Click the links below to read other stories in the series.

Nov. 29: Best shopping apps put you where the buys are.

Nov. 30: Small Business Saturday gives independent shops their turn to shine.

Dec. 1: Before there was 'Elf,' there was 'The Santaland Diaries.'

Dec. 2: Historic Smithville has plenty of old-fashioned Christmas spirit to go around

Dec. 3: Earth-friendly gifts help preserve the world's green assets.

Dec. 4: Great gift ideas for the cook

Dec. 5: Let Cape May kindle your Christmas spirit

Dec. 6: The worst and the weirdest Christmas films

Dec. 7: How to take the perfect holiday portrait

Dec. 8: Will South Jersey have a White Christmas in 2013?

Dec. 9: Don't risk a home fire this winter

Dec. 10: In the kitchen with grandma: How to make 6-layer Neapolitan cookies

Dec. 11: 12 (relatively) new songs for Christmas

Dec. 12: Best all-time Christmas movies, Part 1

Dec. 13: Best all-time Christmas movies, Part 2

Dec. 14: How to make Razzleberry Dressing

Dec. 15: Last-minute make-it gift: Peppermint Patty Martini

Dec. 16: Dennisville Christmas House Tour connects past and present

Dec. 17: Snow day survival guide

Dec. 18: Best all-time Christmas songs

Dec. 19: 5 handy gifts for the home baker

Dec. 20: Cookie swaps sweeten the holidays if you can avoid the jams

Dec. 21: When will Santa get here? Track his flight Christmas Eve with NORAD

DEc. 22: Presents for pets - and pet lovers

Dec. 23: Best children's books get to the heart of Christmas

Dec. 24: Feast of the 7 Fishes is a Christmas Eve tradition for many Italians

Dec. 25: People all over the world celebrate the birth of Jesus


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