Remember snow days from when you were young? The thrill of waking up to see a white blanket of snow covering the world outside and discovering that you get to spend an entire day playing at home? It felt like such an unexpected treat.
As a parent today, snow days are a mixed blessing. It's fun to see the excitement in your child’s eyes, yet you worry because you don’t want them to get behind in their learning.
At Whitby, we ensure that students remain engaged in their learning on snow days. Our children can continue their explorations with a school that is always "open" for access to learning despite the physical restraints of weather and campus closure.
When school closures occur, our teachers will send home suggestions about how students can continue their learning. We even make it possible for students to continue math work in Aleks and make sure that assignments and online resources are accessible through Veracross.
It’s possible to strike a balance between play and learning on snow days in a way that still engages students’ brains. Snow days are a unique opportunity to help kids learn more about the natural world in a fun way.
To help you combine learning and play on a snow day, we’ve gathered together a list of fun learning activities kids can do while they’re home from school because of the weather.
9 Snow Day Activities So Fun Kids Won’t Even Know They’re Learning
1. Identify Tracks in the Snow (Outside Activity)
If it’s warm outside on a snow day, bundle up and take a walk with your kids. On the way, challenge them to look for tracks in the fresh snow and discuss how to identify different animals. Start by asking kids how big they think the animal is, and then see how specific they can get. For example, dogs and cats have four toes, while deer have only two toes. Mice will often leave a narrow line in the snow as they drag their tail behind them, and squirrels will leave claw marks. You can use a phone app, like iTrack Wildlife, to identify more unusual species and to learn about each animal.
2. Observe a Snow Crystal (Outside Activity)
Snow is one of the simplest ways to learn about crystal structures. Give your children a piece of black construction paper and send them outside to collect a few snowflakes. Once they’ve caught a couple, give them a magnifying glass to compare snowflakes and count the crystal points. If you have a glass slide, you can even preserve the snowflake. Prepare by cooling the slide and a tube of superglue by placing them outside. Then use an artist’s paintbrush to carefully transfer a snowflake onto the glass slide and place a drop of superglue over the snowflake. Put the slide into the freezer until the glue hardens.
3. Balloon Gas Expansion Experiment (Outside/Indoor Activity)
This simple balloon experiment is a fun way to show kids how elements react to different temperatures — and the colder the weather, the better. Start by inflating a balloon inside and tieing up the end. Then place the balloon outside and observe as it deflates. (If it’s really cold, put the balloon by a window so kids can watch from inside.) Then bring the balloon back inside and watch as it re-inflates. If the temperature is getting warmer or colder throughout the day, have kids time how long it takes for the balloon to deflate at different temperatures. This experiment gives you a chance to talk with kids about how gases expand and contract.
4. Build an Indoor Snowman (Indoor Activity)
If it’s too cold to play outside, you can challenge kids to create a snowman inside. Start by cutting out shapes to make several snowmen as well as accessories such as hats, pipes, and scarves. Place the shapes in a bowl or basket, and gives kids a piece of colored paper and glue. Kids then randomly draw out snowman pieces to create goofy-looking snowman. For older children, you can turn it into a contest by adding a spelling component. Call out winter-related words for kids to spell. For each correct response, they get to draw a shape from the basket. First one to complete their snowman wins.
5. Create Snowflake Puzzles (Indoor Activity)
Start by teaching kids how to create symmetrical snowflakes by folding a white piece of paper diagonally and then twice more to form a triangle. By cutting shapes in the triangle, they can create a crystalline design that’s revealed when they unfold the snowflake. Then turn it into a snowflake puzzle by folding a darker sheet of paper in half and pasting the snowflakes along the line of symmetry. Cut each snowflake in half along the folded line, and mix the pieces. Challenge kids to practice identifying spatial relationships by finding the missing halves of their snowflake.
6. Snowman Dress Up (Indoor Activity)
Introduce your children to the mathematical concept of “permutations” by challenging them to figure out how many different color combinations they can dress a snowman in. Cut out a snowman from a piece of white paper. Next, make three hats and three scarves out of different colored construction paper. Then let your kids dress the snowman in scarfs and hats of different colors. Have them count each of the color combinations to determine the total possible.
7. Graph a Gingerbread House (Indoor Activity)
A picture mosaic is a fun way to teach children coordinate graphing. Start by drawing a picture of a gingerbread house on a white sheet of paper. Leave approximately an inch wide border around the edges of the image. (Let them color in the gingerbread house if they want to.) On the opposite side of the paper, draw out a grid and label each of the blocks with its graph coordinate (use letters for the X-axis and numbers for the Y-axis.) Next, draw a graph on another piece of paper in the same size. (Make sure that the grids match.) Then cut the drawing of the gingerbread house into individual blocks along the grid lines. Challenge kids to read the coordinates and place them on the graph to form a gingerbread house.
8. Climate Geography Lesson (Indoor Activity)
A snow day is a great time to discuss geography. Pull out a globe and ask kids to name all of the places on the map where it snows. Then spend some time talking about how the climate affects major landmarks, culture, and animals found in that region. You can also pull up a climate map from the Weather Channel to look at how weather varies across the U.S. and across the globe. Looking at weather patterns gives you a chance to discuss how weather is affected by latitude, the earth’s rotation and even distance from major water bodies.
9. Create Snow Poetry (Indoor Activity)
For centuries, poets have been inspired to create poems from nature and the seasons. A snow day is a perfect opportunity to change your kids to use their creativity to try poetry. Start by asking kids to write down all of the words they can think of that describe snow. Then have them use the words to write a poem inspired by winter. Let kids create a simple rhyme scheme poem or go to Poetry4Kids to learn how to write poems ranging from Haiku to limericks.
A Fun Break from the Classroom
Even though schools are closed today, there are still many opportunities for kids to keep learning. By giving kids fun activities that can help them to learn more about the world around them, you can encourage their curiosity and reinforce that learning is fun - inside and outside the classroom.