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Posted on November 29, 2023 at 6:00 am
Winter is a great time to curl up under a blanket with a hot cup of tea and a great book—especially if my dog is curled up too and warming my feet.
But if you have an active family with young people like mine, then you might need to have some activities in your pocket for those times when you need to occupy them while inside the house or get them outside in the snow to burn some energy.
Here are some go-to ideas for your fall and winter activity list.
Snowball fights are a staple of fall and winter (once it snows, of course). I encourage you to steer your young people away from throwing snowballs at each other and instead throwing them at snowball targets.
You can set up a variety of targets or bullseyes for their snowball attacks. Targets can be something as simple as a tree trunk. Or make targets with hula hoops on the ground, a circle of rocks, or even a ring of color in the snow created with food coloring mixed with water and sprayed using a water gun or spray bottle.
Try different distances, each assigned different points, and make it a competition.
Another timeless snow activity—creating a snowman—can be switched up as well. I challenge you to create a snow creature instead. Can you make a snow dog, porcupine, or duck? What about your favorite character from a book or movie? If you make a snow creature, be sure to share it with the library on social media, so we can enjoy your creativity.
Another activity which has stood the test of time is making paper snowflakes. The patterns are endless—how can you make just one?
Along with traditional snowflake shapes, you can try fun templates for snowmen, animals, or your very own unique pattern.
The website for the Natural History Museum in London has snowflake templates featuring a bear, dodo, whale, dinosaur, hummingbird, and more. They also have helpful tips on designing your own snowflakes.
The best part about making paper snowflakes is that they make great winter decorations for your windows or to hang from the ceiling.
There is even a book about real snowflakes that you can check out from the library. The Art of the Snowflake: A Photographic Album, by Kenneth Libbrecht, showcases the wonder and complexity of snowflakes through the microphotography of snow crystals.
The photography captures the stunning beauty and unique shapes of ice crystals and snow. Next time you watch the snow fall outside, just imagine thousands upon thousands of microscopic pieces of art floating through the air.
Another indoor craft that leads to contemplation of the outdoors is a decorative bird feeder garland. These can add festive decoration to the trees and bushes in your yard, and any birds will appreciate the sustenance when next visiting.
You will need thick thread, scissors, long/large needles (young children need supervision), and whatever bird-friendly edible treats you can find, such as cranberries, apple slices, citrus slices, and air popped popcorn (plain, no butter or salt). Simply thread the treats on your thread, be sure to tie off the ends, and hang it somewhere in your yard.
I like this activity because it includes some time inside and also gets you outside, spending time decorating your trees, deck, porch, or wherever you have outdoor space.
Don’t just stop at garlands. If you are interested in more winter crafting, take a look at A Winter Treasury of Recipes, Crafts, and Wisdom, by Angela Ferraro-Fanning. Within its pages, you’ll find all kinds of engaging and cozy winter activities, including hot cocoa recipes, identifying animal tracks in the snow, making wreaths, and creating salt dough ornaments.
Explore hundreds of crafts to keep hands—both small and big—busy with the digital resource Creativebug, available with an in-district library card.
One craft that I plan to do this holiday season with my niece is the Paper Holiday Village. This craft is super easy and can provide an outlet for endless creativity.
The video demonstration shows you how to fold paper to create the buildings in your village. You can use all different kinds of paper. Upcycle paper grocery bags, turned inside out, to create a gingerbread-style village. Then decorate, draw on, and color your paper buildings, using paint pens, colored pencils, crayons, or even stickers, to make it uniquely yours.
Your village can be placed on a windowsill, in the center of your holiday dinner table, or on a mantle for a festive look. You might find that you want to revisit this craft to add more houses or even a reindeer or two.
After you’re done crafting or snowball tossing, I suggest taking a break for a yummy, snowy treat. Collect some fresh, clean snow (or shaved ice) to make snow ice cream.
The recipe is simple to make, using just five ingredients most people have on hand. Snow ice cream does not keep well in the freezer for very long, so you’ll need to make sure to indulge right away.
Who doesn’t love crafting with someone else’s supplies?
That’s exactly what the library is inviting you to do during our drop-in crafting activity Handmade Holiday Ornaments. We would love to see what you create!
I hope you enjoy these crafts and activities for the cold season. Stay warm and keep crafting.
Alison Johnson is an Education and Enrichment Librarian at Spokane County Library District and the community librarian for the Deer Park Library. She creates library programming and events for children ages 8–18. This means she gets to play with many things, including messy paints and mini robots. When she has free time, Alison enjoys hiking trails with her dog, paddle boarding (on very calm waters), and reading while enjoying a cup of tea.