Indoor Winter Fun for Kids
Last month the kids were out in the snow making snow angels, snow families, snow-cones. But now we're in the middle of winter and, depending on where you live, the wind may be too nippy and the temperature too low for outdoor play. What to do?
The best activities for kids can cost little more than pennies. Much can be done with ordinary ingredients and a little planning ahead. Here are some mix-in-the-kitchen crafts recipes for you and your children to make. Think ‘snow day'!
Magic Crystals - You may remember those little grow-your-own crystals kits from your childhood, probably next to the display for sea monkeys. In years past, they were also called Depression Gardens, like Depression glass from the era of the Great Depression. This recipe definitely needs adult involvement or supervision, depending on your child's age.
(1) Place 3 charcoal briquets in a disposable aluminum pan or pie tin.
(2) Mix together 1/4 cup salt, 1/4 cup water, 1/4 cup liquid bluing (found in laundry section of supermarket, by detergents), and 1 tbsp ammonia. Pour over charcoal briquets.
(3) Sprinkle a few drops of food coloring onto the briquets - blue is nice, but use any color your children prefer.
(4) Slide pan into a protected corner, and watch the crystals grow!
Goop - Mix 2 cups salt with 1/2 cup water and cook for about 5 minutes in saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and add 1 cup corn starch and another 1/2 cup water. Return to heat and stir until mixture thickens. Optional: add green food coloring. When cool, store in plastic bag. Kids love to play with this stuff, don't ask me why!
Kool-Aid Play Dough - Mix together the following: 1 cup sifted flour, 1/2 cup salt, 3 tbsps vegetable oil, and 1 small package of unsweetened Kool-Aid drink mix (or other unsweetened powdered drink mix). Add 1 cup boiling water. Stir ingredients, then knead mixture on waxed paper until it forms a soft dough.
Papier-Mache - Here's a kid-amuser that's probably ancient. You know the drill: having a few balloons handy to cover with the papier-mâché to make animals or creatures is always a good idea. Start with 1 cup white flour and 1 cup water and mix until it makes a smooth, watery paste. Tear strips of newspaper 1 inch wide, dip the strips in the paste, squeeze excess paste from the strips with your fingers, and arrange the dipped strips on the balloon or other form (you can use an oiled rubber ball - just don't cover the entire thing unless you're willing to cut the dry artwork in half to remove it from the ball and then glue the two halves together with more strips of papier-mâché). Finished? Great! Now let it dry completely before painting. You might suggest to your children that they make a Mexican pinata for the next birthday party. Now, there's an incentive!
Shrinkies - Wash and store Styrofoam trays in a cabinet - pink, white, black, light green are the usual colors of the trays used for meat and produce. Get out the Magic Markers and draw and cut shapes from the trays (if it's to be part of a piece of jewelry or a keychain for Dad, punch a good-sized hole in one end). Arrange on a cookie sheet and place in oven at 350 degrees for several minutes. If your oven has a glass pane in the door, the kids can see the pieces shrink. When finished, remove and let cool.
And what will be your kids’ reaction to such a crafty day? “Aw, Mom! Do we have to go to bed? This is too much fun!"
About the Author: Stephania edits a twice-monthly HTML ezine, Tidbits from the Pantry, that is currently sent to more than 11,000 opt-in subscribers. She recently retired after 40 years in the field of human services, and offers a free evaluation of a life problem to any subscriber by email.