Cabin Fever?
Winter Fun Games and Activities
by Angela Antonelli

If you feel fatigued, irritable, look pale, and have the chills, it might be because you are sick. On the other hand, it might be because it’s late January.
Sigh. Hang in there. Try a few of these cool activities that will get you and the kids outside of the cabin for a little while.

 

Craft Ideas:

Ice Sculptures
(Minus the Super Dangerous Tools)

Using a variety of kitchen items, you can create fun, icy art to display in your yard.
You will need:
A variety of containers with interesting shapes, such as: novelty/character cake pans or cupcake pans, Jell-O Jiggler molds, Jell-O molds, cookie cutters, watertight recyclables, etc.
Food coloring (optional)
String
Miscellaneous small items (optional)
Room in your freezer (perhaps the most difficult to obtain item on this list) or cold weather
Instructions:
Fill containers of your choice with water.
Add food coloring and/or small items to the water prior to it freezing (for example, if you are using a dinosaur cake mold, you might add some green food coloring, and place a little plastic dinosaur in the stomach area.)
If you want to be able to hang your item, add two pieces of string near the top of each design, so that the top halves of the string hang outside of the water.
Put the containers in the freezer or outside until completely frozen.
For easier removal from containers, leave your frozen sculptures at room temperature until they show the first signs of melting, or place the container in warm water to loosen. Carefully remove the items from their containers.
Use your ice sculptures to set up a scene in the snow or hang them from branches; add to your display throughout the winter.
Tips:
When using cookie cutters, place them in a rectangular pan, and then fill the pan with water until it covers the tops of the cutters.
Try layering. Fill your container only halfway, and add food coloring. Let it freeze solid, and then add another layer of water and a different color of food coloring.
Use a variety of unique containers that will result in fun shapes – try things like balloons, recycled plastic containers, foam egg crates, etc.
Food coloring stains – protect clothing accordingly

Suspended Inanimation:
Ice Collage

P.E., Science, and Art all rolled into one
cool project!

You will need:
Cake pan
Small natural objects
Twine
Instructions:
Go on a nature walk and collect several small items such as pinecones, pebbles, fallen sprigs of pine, and so on.
Fill a cake pan about 2/3 full with water.
Add your found items to the pan, and arrange them however you like.
Add two pieces of twine near the top of the pan, so that the top halves of the string hang out.
Put the pan in the freezer or outside until completely frozen.
When your creation is frozen, submerge the bottom of the pan in warm water to loosen the ice. Gently remove the ice collage from the pan.
Tie the strings together. Hang your collage from a tree branch. (Surely, I do not have to tell you not to hang it where it may fall on someone’s head.)
Tips:
This can be a good exercise in demonstrating water displacement, so keep some towels on hand!
Try to use a variety of items to make your display more interesting. Use some things that will sink, and some that will float.
If you want all of the objects fully embedded in the ice, first freeze about ½ an inch of water. When that layer is frozen, add more water along with your objects, and freeze. Add one last layer of water, and freeze again until solid.
When your display melts, make another. Try varying materials and pan shapes.

The Winter Blues, Reds, and Yellows…

If you’ve put the pink flamingoes away for the season, you may want to jazz up your yard with this colorful winter version of “lawn art.”

You will need:
Clean spray bottles
Food coloring
A kid with boots
Instructions:
Have your children “draw” a simple picture in your yard by walking through the snow to make a smiley face, a flower, etc.
Fill spray bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring, and let your children “color” their designs.
Tips:
Keep in mind that this process can stain clothing, and dress your child accordingly.
Remember, “nothing cold can stay” – so don’t forget to take photos of your child’s wintery creations.

Games:

Snowball Surprise

This simple, fast-paced game is a great variation of the good ol’ snowball fight.

You will need:
Snow
3 or more players
Small, soft, waterproof toys
How to play:
Prepare for the game by working together to make several snowballs – the more snowballs you make, the more challenging the game will be. Make a pile for each player.
After the snowballs are completed, all of the players hide their eyes while another person hides a small, soft, waterproof toy inside one of the snowballs, and places it somewhere in one of the piles of snowballs.
On ‘go’, the players start throwing snowballs at each other.
The person that grabs the toy when it breaks out of the snowball, wins. The person that wins then hides the toy for the next round.
Tips:
Players must never throw snowballs at an opponent’s head or face. You can also modify the rules so that players must aim at trees or a wall instead of at each other.
When playing with younger children, hide enough toys for everyone. Each child “wins” when they find one toy.

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Hot & Cold Treasure Hunt

Encourage your kids to get outside and play by hiding a “treasure box” for them.
You will need:
Small plastic container
Hot chocolate mix
Marshmallows
Paper
Instructions:
Fill a plastic container with a packet of hot chocolate mix and some marshmallows, and bury it in the snow.
Depending upon the age of your children, you can make a simple map, a trail for them to follow, or write out a series of clues for them (start at the man with the carrot nose, then go to where the closest tree grows) etc.
After the treasure box is found, your children can bring it to you for preparation, and play outside until the cocoa is “ready” (i.e., when Oprah is over, when you’ve finished e-mailing your expense report, etc.).

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Ice Fishing

If you’ve never gone ice fishing, you may regret never having spent hours of your life sitting in the middle of a frozen lake, waiting for a fish to bite. Here’s a version of ice fishing that’s even more fun than the real deal.

Preparation:
Cut fish shapes out of fun foam, then clip an office clip or paper clip onto the mouth area.
To make a fishing rod, tie a string to a stick, and on the “fish hook” end, tie an office clip or paper clip. Attach a magnet to the clip.
Using a permanent marker, write a funny instruction on each fish (clap three times, sing a song, run once around a tree, etc.).
If a snow mound is not available, have a small person in a snowsuit construct one. Then create a hole in the center, and place the fish inside.
How to play:
Children take turns fishing. Make sure that they can’t see into the hole.
Once they catch a fish, they must complete the task as instructed. If they complete the task, they keep the fish. If not, they throw it back. The player with the most fish at the end of the game is the winner..
Modifications:
Younger children will prefer simply completing the tasks, instead of competing for fish. Make this game more challenging by making the hole larger in diameter. This game can be played indoors as well.