Particularly now, as we're all buried under huge piles of snow, recovering from shoveling induced aches and pains, and the novelty of snow days has worn off, you're probably dreaming of beaches, sandals, and umbrella-laden drinks. Your kids are even tired of electronics and you've already built an army of snowmen. Now what? If lift tickets are beyond your budget, fear not. Here are six ideas for outdoor fun for next to nothing.
1. Stomp it out. Whether you've got an inch (or 20) of snow, put on your boots and take a walk with your kids. Examine your footprints. You can walk in each other's footsteps, track yourselves backwards, and spell out words. If you're on a well-traveled sidewalk, guess which people (and pets) made which tracks.
2. Learn about animal tracks. Speaking of tracks, this is the perfect time to become a nature detective. Study up via this photo gallery of New England animal tracks and go hunting for animal tracks.
3. Strap on snowshoes. Snowshoes are a great winter activity -- simply slip them on over your warmest boots and get out there; all you need to do is walk. Grace and athletic skill not required! Snowshoes are inexpensive to rent from an outdoor store (think tens of dollars, not hundreds) and definitely check out Mass Audubon's snowshoe rentals and programs; rentals generally range from about $2-5/hour and in some cases (e.g., Oak Knoll, Attleboro) are free for members.
4. Paint on snow. Tired of messy crafts inside? You can buy paints made for ice, or experiment with water based paints and/or food coloring outside. My kids and I have had a great time doing this, whether with paint brushes or sponges.
5. "Cook" outside. Take advantage of the cold temperatures and "cook" outside; your kids will find this hilarious! Make your favorite summer popsicles and freeze them outside. Use the great outdoors to cool down no-bake cookies or firm up pies (be sure to cover food items of course!).
6. Get architectural. It's not often that we have this much snow. Take advantage of the volume to create igloos, tunnels, and sledding tracks. Christine's daughter Laurel and a friend spent four hours outside this past weekend creating a three-entry shelter and sledding on a small but impressive front yard sledding track (pictured below).
So bundle up and head on out! Also awesome? When kids get plenty of fresh air and exercise outside, bedtime is way easier!
Image credits: Christine Koh