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Monday, January 21, 2013

10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues with Kids

I woke up today and it was -20 windchill and barely a dusting of snow on the ground.  Ahhh winter in west central Illinois.  We don't get the snow like northern Illinois and our winters are slightly warmer, not a lot of chances to play in the snow.  Down here we have to get creative with what we do during the winter.  So I sat down these past couple of days and tried to come up with some stuff we could do that didn't require snow.
Idea Number 1:
Tour a local museum
For my family and I to go and visit a local museum it takes some prep work because we have nothing that is less then a two hour drive.  Within two hours we have several museums to choose from so it's just a matter of making the decision of what we want to see that day.
  
Idea Number 2:
Hit a Winter Festival
I know by us in the midwest there are a ton of winter festivals that go on.  I am hoping to find one semi-close to where we live so we can go and check it out.  You can go to Midwest Weekends to find winter carnivals in the midwest.

Saint Paul Winter Carnival - Rice Park
This photo is courtesy of Preservation Nature and it was taken during Winter Carnival 2011 in St. Paul, MN
Idea Number 3:
Make an Ice Sculpture
 This looks like a fun way to bring some of the outside in without snow AND a little bit of science on top of it.  I hope to be able to do this one soon.  I got this idea off of Family Fun, here is the link with some ideas on how to do this activity. 

Ice sculpture
Photo courtesy of flickr.com from GeirB
 
Idea Number 4:
Take a Winter Hike
A lot of people think that hiking is just a three season activity.  I happen to disagree vehemently with that.  Yes, winter time is cold, yes you have to do some extra prep work, but there are some definate pluses to hiking in the winter.  So grab your kid(s) and head anywhere to take a walk around.  You might be surprised at what you find.
 

Winter Trees
 
 
Idea Number 5:
Go Eagle Watching
Now I know that not everybody is lucky enough to be able to do this, but here along the river eagle watching is quite huge.  The eagles come to feed around the dams, so we get a large gathering of them in a fairly small area.  Kids LOVE being able to watch them soar and dive and hunt.  Just go to any dam along the Mississippi River where the water is unfrozen to find them.

Beautiful bald eagle
 
Idea Number 6:
Do a Winter Scavenger Hunt
This can be done any number of ways.  You can hide colored ice and have the kids go find it.  You can put together a list of outdoor things to look for in your yard or a local park.  You can give your older kids a camera and set them loose with picture ideas to take.  However you want to do it.  If you team up within your family or with friends it can be even more fun.  I like to do a Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt myself.  You can find me on Pinterest and follow that board and/or join me!
 
Idea Number 7:
Make a Winter Animal Feeder
Animals can have a harder time finding food in the winter so doing this is not only fun, but also helps the wildlife.  The kids will get a kick out of seeing what animals eat from their animal feeder.  If you put it someplace where you can watch it, you might even spot animals eating off of it!!  The National Wildlife Federation has instructions for how to do this craft.
 
Idea Number 8:
Visit a local State Park
We all know that state parks are fun places to visit during spring, summer and fall, but they can also be fun to visit in the winter.  Typically things are quieter so you can have the trails to yourself.  Animals are more apt to be out and about looking for food.  Also winter turns the parks into a bare, beautiful wonderland, especially if you are lucky enough to get snow or ice.
 
Starved Rock State Park / Jan. 2010
This photo is courtesy of flickr.com from Jay Jenison.  Taken at Starved Rock State Park, IL
Idea Number 9:
Bake Winter Cookies
Cookies are always in season and fun!  I suggest trying these melting snowman cookies.  They look adorable and are a total winter time treat.  I hope they taste as good as they look :).  These will be one of the cookies that I will make this winter for sure!

melted snowman cookies 6
Photo courtesy of flickr.com by The Decorated Cookies
Idea Number 10:
Go ice skating or try other winter sports
I had to get one thing in that has to do with winter sports.  Ice skating you can do without snow on a pond, check for safety first or find an indoor rink.  You don't even need skates, you can go boot skating!  We always try to get out at least one on a ski slope.  We live in the midwest, not too many huge mountains but we can still find ski slopes that are nearby for a day trip out to them.  Any kind of hill is a sledding hill and you don't need a ton of snow to sled with.  A dusting can work if it is chilly enough out not to be muddy :).
 
I hope that these ideas help you beat the winter boredom blues.  I will be trying some of these myself with my son.

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