Snow Day Survival

No school? Here's how to fill the day with active fun.

Kids love a good snow day. Parents, not so much—especially if we have to try to work while kids are underfoot, or it's the umpteenth day in a row that routines have been disrupted. Have you tried these tricks yet?

Send them out in the snow.

children with snowman
Matthew Cavanaugh / Getty Images

If you actually have snow on your snow day, and it's not dangerously cold outside, you're in luck! These activities can keep kids busy for a long time, especially if you add some snow toys to the mix. If your kids are too little to play outside alone, hire an older neighbor child (you need someone within walking distance) as a babysitter/play partner. That kid's parents will be grateful too!

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Try active toys inside.

Homemade twister stretch
Erica Greis

If you have toys like these in your collection, now's the time to pull them out. (Or invest in a few before the next snow day). Nothing on your shelf—or kids already sick of what you have? Turn making new toys into an activity with these DIY ideas.

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Let them eat cookies.

Bean Appetit kids cookbook
Andrews McMeel Publishing

... or muffins, or pancakes, or smoothies, as long as the kids make 'em themselves (and clean up!). Try a kids' cookbook or visit my healthy recipes board on Pinterest for constantly updated ideas. Serve with a side of fruit for some extra vitamins and antioxidants.

Hoop it up.

If you have a Hula hoop, bring it in from the garage and challenge the kids to give these activities a spin.

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Get crafty.

Pull out the paper, clay, and paint and let kids go to town. Did you know art projects can build both fine and gross motor skills?

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Play party games.

It's a snow-day party with these game ideas that work indoors but encourage physical activity, like shoebox races and Freeze Dance. Perfectly themed for a winter snow day: Snowball Soccer. Don't worry, this one doesn't require any snow inside the house! For a little less physical activity, but a lot of laughs, try Minute-to-Win-It challenges.

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Bring outdoor games in.

My kids are lucky enough to have an indoor Ping-pong table (an investment we made because where we live, winters are long). But there are lots of other sports and sports skills that kids can practice inside, given just a little room and the right equipment.

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Host your own yoga class.

Set up a few mats and teach your own family yoga class so you can reap fitness benefits alongside your kids. Use an app (my favorite is Yogify from EA Sports) or video, or check out the simple sequences created by About Yoga expert Ann Pizer.

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Let them build a fort.

Couch cushions, bedsheets, blankets, and binder clips are all fair game in the world of junior indoor fort-building. Encourage kids to do the work on their own by promising a fun snack and some good books to read once their fort is constructed. And I recommend setting an expiration date and time for forts too!

Put them to work.

A snow day doesn't have to be all fun and games. Kids as young as 7 or so can help shovel your sidewalks, and kids of any age can use their unexpected free day to catch up on household chores. If you're working for home, you might even be able to assign some business tasks to your young apprentices. You can offer payment in cash, behavior tokens, screen time, or hugs and praise—whatever valuable currency you use in your family.

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