5 things to try with your kids when you’re snowed in

By Brittany Carlson

I live in northern New York – almost in Canada – where winters are long, brutally cold, and involve lots and lots of snow and ice. But staying indoors for six months with my 18-month-old and 4-year-old sons is not an option if I want to preserve my sanity. I make a habit of getting them outside every day, even if it’s just for a quick walk to the mailbox.

We make snowmen, go sledding and make snow angels, of course, but after a few winters here we are always in the market for new snow day ideas. I asked friends to tell me some of their favorite winter activities, and here are a few of their creative snow-day ideas (and one of mine):

1. Bring snow indoors

My friend Rachel Adkins said that she will bring snow inside, on towels, for her son to play with when it’s too cold to play outside. “I would bring buckets of snow in, put down towels, and just let him play in the snow … use bulldozers to plow it, scoop it with measuring cups, and build mini snowmen,” she said.  

I recently tried this with my boys and put a few shovelfuls of snow on a plastic tarp in our kitchen, along with sand toys and even some Easter eggs (which they love to fill to make little “candies”).  

2. Do some bird-watching

Robert Johnson suggests buying a bird identification book, and then making outdoor bird feeders from milk jugs, bottles or juice cartons. “Even really young (kids) will get into knowing the types of birds,” he said.

3. Make a “mitten tree”

 I think this idea, from Effie Powell, is genius because not only is it a fun way to brighten a room, but a functional way to get winter accessories to dry out. Powell suggests arranging branches in a pot that kids can “decorate” with mittens, hats and scarves when they come inside. “It’s cute, cheerful, and everyone can always find their gloves,” she said.

4. Hunt for buried treasure

Rachel Walsh makes hunting for new toys fun for her daughters (and gives them some exercise in the process). “I grab notebooks, crayons, stickers, and a few toys all from the Dollar Tree and put them in plastic bins and leave them outside before a major projected snowfall,” Walsh said. “The next day when my girls want to go outside, I hand them a treasure map of all the places the bins are buried. They have a blast and the fun lasts several hours after they come inside.”


Thinking about these fun ideas reminded me of something I used to do as a kid on a snowy day:

5. Make snow candy

When I was kid, my parents would give my sisters and I some molasses and let us drizzle it into shapes or letters on the snow, where it would freeze. Then we would suck on our frozen “candy” while we played. You could probably also do this with maple syrup, honey, or another sweet syrup.


So, whether this winter brings you your first heavy snowfall (or if, like us, you’re running out of ideas), I hope this list inspires you to try something new with your kids when you’re snowed in. Enjoy your next snow day!


For more creative snow day ideas, check out this article:



Brittany Carlson is a lifelong lover of words and all things chocolate. She is an Army wife and now has two sons, Adam (4) and James (18 months). She has written for several Army community newspapers, including the Stuttgart Citizen (Germany), Fort Leonard Wood Guidon (Missouri) and Fort Belvoir Eagle (Virginia). Brittany holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She and her family live in upstate NY. 

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