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Kids don't have to be buried in misery on snow days

With a little creative thinking, the indoors can be turned into an imaginative wonderland

With a little creative thinking, the indoors can be turned into an imaginative wonderland

December 02, 2002|by ANDREA ROWLAND

When the weather outside is frightful, learning at home can be delightful for Tri-State area students.

Teachers and parent involvement coordinators at Washington County schools suggested fun, hands-on activities that reinforce skills learned in the classroom. Students can read stories with their parents or guardians and draw their favorite story parts, said Sharon Ernst, coordinator at Lincolnshire Elementary School in Halfway.

Reading recipes and measuring ingredients for adult chaperones in the kitchen strengthens children's reading and math skills, and cutting letters from magazines to spell words helps young students practice their motor and language skills, Ernst said.

Making sock puppets, and creating a homemade variation of Playdoh by mixing 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt, 1 cup water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 2 teaspoons cream of tartar and food coloring are time-tested favorite activities, said Ernst and Cindy Hinkle, coordinator at Winter Street Elementary in Hagerstown.


While in the kitchen, children can categorize canned foods and practice fractions with fruit and sandwich slices, Hinkle said. She also suggested building a tent from sheets so children can cuddle inside to read, draw, play games and drink homemade hot chocolate.

Snow days are great times to create collages from dried beans, pasta and magazines, and to craft homemade bird feeders, said Ernst and Clear Spring Elementary art teacher Priscilla Howard.

Children can cut one side out of old milk jugs, decorate the containers and fill them with bird seed, Howard said. Ernst suggested covering an apple with peanut butter and bird seed, or punching an access hole in a paper cup filled with popcorn and seed.

Fairview Outdoor Center Head Teacher Ed Hazlett proposed the following outdoor activities:

  • Place a sheet of dark construction paper on the snow and use a magnifying glass to examine the snowflakes that land on the paper. Draw your favorite flakes.

  • Go on a natural scavenger hunt or "color search." Create a list of outdoor objects or colors and ask children to find as many of the objects or colors as they can.

  • Gather a cup of snow and measure the amount of water in the cup when the snow melts.

  • Measure the temperature of snow and chart its temperature drop as it melts.

  • Build a bridge out of snow by carving out a snow bank or crafting snow bricks using bread pans as molds.

  • Create a splatter painting by flinging food coloring onto fresh snow.

"Depending on the artistic ability of the child, this can result in a very attractive or very ugly creation," Hazlett said. "Therefore, it's a good activity for the backyard."

Rob Hovermale, music resource specialist for the Washington County Board of Education, said snow often "brings out the creative side in children."

He suggested that students interested in music take advantage of school cancellations by writing music, putting on concerts for their families, creating plays with music and props, playing along with compact discs to develop their musical ears, and explore a variety of interactive music Web sites.

The Internet offers many educational Web sites for children of all ages, said Diane Mentzer, media specialist at Paramount Elementary School. Students can log on to Paramount's Web site for links to other age-appropriate learning sites, and use their computers to compose overdue e-mails to friends and relatives - a fun way to practice writing skills, Mentzer said.

Children can hone their math skills by counting the money in their piggy banks, said Ann Palmer, a second-grade teacher at Salem Avenue Elementary in Hagerstown. She also suggested snow days as a good time for students to gather old books and board games from home to add to their class libraries and "rainy day" shelves.

Educators in Berkeley County, W.Va., make coming up with snow day activities a snap for students and parents. Special snow day activity packets have been sent home with elementary school children for about six years, starting the winter after snow closed schools for about 20 days, Assistant Superintendent Frank Aliveto said.

But all work and no fun isn't the key to a successful snow day at home, Palmer said.

"It's important to let the kids enjoy being off because we work them really hard at school," she said. "Let them go outside and play in the snow and have a great day."

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