SNOW MUCH FUN

Who needs spring? Cool temps and, if you’re lucky, snow can ac­tu­ally make for some pretty awe­some out­door play. Try these ideas!

FamilyFun - - NEST - BY SHAUN DREIS­BACH PHO­TOG­RA­PHY BY JU­LIA VANDENOEVE­R

BLOW FROZEN BUB­BLES

No need to save all those jars of bub­ble so­lu­tion you’ve got around for sum­mer! They’re fun to use now—and a mini science les­son at the same time. Here’s what to do:

1. Pick a day that is be­low 32°F and not windy. (It has to be be­low freez­ing for the bub­bles to, you know, freeze.)

2. Put your con­tainer of bub­bles out­side to chill for a lit­tle bit be­fore head­ing out—not so long that it freezes, though.

3. Blow a bub­ble, catch it on the bub­ble wand, and wait for a few sec­onds or a few min­utes, de­pend­ing on how cold it is. It will freeze into a mag­i­cal-look­ing crys­tal ball!

4. You can also try blow­ing bub­bles straight up in the air (rather than catch­ing them on the wand) and watch them freeze mid­flight. This works es­pe­cially well on a re­ally cold day.

TAKE A HIKE

Snow­shoe­ing al­lows your kids to ex­plore your fa­vorite hik­ing spots in a com­pletely new way, and you can get them pretty in­ex­pen­sively at sec­ond­hand sports stores. When my kids were lit­tle, we bought them Tubbs Snowflake snow­shoes ($40; tubb­ss­now­shoes.com), which have plas­tic grip­pers on the bot­tom, rather than metal ones, and are re­ally easy to put on— great, be­cause af­ter get­ting them all bun­dled up, the last thing you want is to wres­tle with more gear. They were a huge hit! A few things you can do while you’re tromp­ing around:

1. Chal­lenge your kids to find as many dif­fer­ent kinds of an­i­mal tracks as they can. Bonus points if they can match the foot­print to the crit­ter that made it. (Not sure? Snap a photo and look it up later.)

2. Bring binoc­u­lars and do some bird spot­ting. Not ex­actly a birder? Me nei­ther. So I down­loaded Audubon’s free Bird Guide app, which helps you ID the species you’re look­ing at.

3. Play games you’d nor­mally bring to the beach, such as Fris­bee or pad­dle­ball. The hi­lar­i­ous irony will not be lost on your kid­dos, which makes it that much more fun.

MAKE A SNOW VOL­CANO

Re­mem­ber that old-school science-fair project? This snowy ver­sion uses the same ex­plo­sionin­duc­ing in­gre­di­ents—all of which you prob­a­bly have in your pantry. Round up the kid­dies and build your own lava-spew­ing vol­ca­noes. Warn­ing: My kids had such a blast mak­ing one af­ter an­other that our yard looked like a crime scene by the time they were done.

WHAT YOU’LL NEED

• A small, nar­row plas­tic cup or old pill bot­tle

• Bak­ing soda

• Dish­wash­ing liq­uid

• Red food col­or­ing

• Vine­gar

WHAT TO DO

1. Nes­tle the cup in the cen­ter of a pile of snow and mound more snow around it to form a vol­cano shape. (Leave the top of the cup ex­posed.)

2. Add a few spoon­fuls of bak­ing soda, one spoon­ful of dish­wash­ing liq­uid, and some food col­or­ing to the cup.

3. Now pour in a big splash of vine­gar and watch the erup­tion!

BUILD SNOW MON­STERS

They’re more fun than your ba­sic snow­man and even eas­ier to cre­ate: Pick up a bunch of glow sticks from a dol­lar store, then get your out­door gear on and make big mounds of snow just be­fore dusk. Poke two holes for the mon­ster’s eyes and place a lit-up glow stick in each hole. (De­pend­ing on the type you get, you might need to use more than one per eye.) Cover the hole lightly with snow, so you can still see its glow­ing eyes.

RENT A FAT-TIRE BIKE AND GO FOR A SPIN

Known as “fat­ties,” these bi­cy­cles are out­fit­ted with wide tires and rugged treads that can han­dle snowy roads and trails. And while they’re pricey to buy, many bike stores, ski re­sorts, and moun­tain-bik­ing ar­eas rent them. Bikes with fat tires ride a bit dif­fer­ently than reg­u­lar bikes— pretty much the equiv­a­lent of run­ning in the sand—so you’ll def­i­nitely get a workout. But they’re unique in that they can roll over al­most any­thing. (Trust me, my kids have tried!) On a warmish day, hit a bike path or do a lit­tle off-road­ing to get some fresh air.

UP YOUR SLED­DING GAME

What would win­ter be with­out sled­ding? You can put a fresh spin on this clas­sic by go­ing sled bowl­ing. (Yes, you read that right.) Make snow­balls and set them up like pins at the base of a hill, then zoom down and see who can knock the most over. Or how about a sled­ding re­lay race? Di­vide into two teams, and mark a start and fin­ish line. Then have one racer from each team whiz down to the bot­tom and hand off the sled to the next per­son—who must dash up the hill and sled down. First team over the fin­ish line wins! Of course, you’ll need some speedy sleds. So I asked a pro— Christo­pher Stock­dale, PH.D., an as­so­ciate pro­fes­sor of physics at Mar­quette Univer­sity in Mil­wau­kee—which kind works best. He sug­gests go­ing for one with a smooth, hard plas­tic base, as op­posed to a sled with run­ners or an in­flat­able tube. It gives you max­i­mum contact with the snow, which means less fric­tion and bet­ter glide. My kids are ob­sessed with these Zipfy sleds ($41; ama­zon.com). They’re light, por­ta­ble, and fast, and they’re easy to steer and stop. Bonus: They come in a ton of cheery col­ors and are vir­tu­ally in­de­struc­tible. (Ours have sur­vived many an ex­posed rock and root.) And, yes, we do rec­om­mend wear­ing hel­mets while sled­ding!

We made a whole slew of mon­sters just as the sun was set­ting ... ... and watched them come to life in the dark­ness. So cool!

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