Winter is on the way. Don't just turn on the television or hoard every coloring book in town. Break out the hats, mittens, boots and ski jackets and get out there to enjoy the winter weather. Your little ones will love playing in the snow and the cold, crisp air. And playing outside in the chilly air gives you a great excuse to cuddle up with some hot cocoa when you're done.
Keep 'Em Moving
Sledding really is as much fun as you remember from your own childhood. Take your more adventurous kiddies to the local golf course to enjoy the big hills there. Tow your little ones across the backyard with a rope tied to the sled for a gentle ride. And make sure you get in on the fun yourself. As you fly down the hill laughing or screaming, you'll wonder why you ever let adulthood keep you from enjoying sledding.
If your preschooler is up for more of a challenge, take her to the local ice skating rink or ski slope. As soon as they're ready to walk, they're ready to ski and skate. Most rinks and slopes have equipment available for rental, so don't be dissuaded if you don't own the gear your child will need to learn. Consider signing her up for a lesson or two to get the feel for ice skates or skis -- or even better, get out there and give it a try yourself.
Winter Classics, Revamped
America's all-time favorite winter activity may be building a snowman. Roll up three snowballs, stack them and let the dressing begin. Pull out old clothes and fun accessories for your snowman and let your little ones adorn them to their hearts' content. For a fun twist on an old favorite, create your own family out of snow, including your pets. Add a sign that says "Winter Fun With the Smith Family."
You probably remember making angels in the snow. Have your children lie down carefully in fresh snow, and spread their arms out and legs apart several times to make the angels' wings and gowns. Jazz up this classic with a few drops of food coloring or some watered-down tempera paint. Your kids can draw faces on their angels or decorate the gowns into colorful dresses. Or, pour the paint into spray bottles, and let them turn your yard into a work of art.
Once you have exhausted yourselves, it's time to refresh with some food and drink. Instead of bringing the kiddies inside and peeling off all that snow gear, bring the party outside. Lay down a picnic blanket in the snow or seat the kids at your picnic table, and serve mugs of soup, chili or warm sandwiches. Or, fire up the gas grill, and make burgers and hot dogs or sausages. For a lighter snack, hot apple cider or cocoa is a perfect match for freshly baked cookies. Your little ones will be refreshed and ready for more outdoor play, and you won't have to worry about tugging those boots on again.
Summer Fun in Wintertime
At the end of a long winter day, grab your little one and curl up by the fire. But instead of moving indoors, light up the outdoor fireplace and chat by the fire. Get your s'mores ingredients together, tell some stories and enjoy summer fun under the winter sky. If you don't have an outdoor fire pit or chiminea, build a small bonfire or simply fire up your hibachi grill for some marshmallow roasting. Look up at the sky and count the stars, or look down at the ground and talk about the shapes of snowflakes. Bring the bedtime story outside, and read it by the fire's light. Your preschooler will go in for bed exhausted, but extremely happy.
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