Tuesday, January 12, 2016

40 Ways to Enjoy a Snow Day

I recently read in the news that some schools in other parts of the country are implementing ways to have "virtual" school on snow days. Schools telling families how to spend their snow days is heartbreaking to me. Are we really getting to a point in culture where we are willing and able to say goodbye to the concept of snow days?? No, I refuse.

Authentic play for kids is something I am extremely passionate about. Read my post about it here.

Regardless, I understand that sometimes cabin fever from multiple shut-in days is taxing on parents and kids. Especially unplanned, unexpected ones. But these are not days to fear or dread or virtually escape. They are blessed opportunities to embrace LIFE! I've put together this list of 40 WAYS you and your family can enjoy snow days. I wrote a similar piece a couple years ago, with 20 Simple Ideas; combined, that offers you SIXTY SOLUTIONS FOR SNOW DAY FUN.
Don't fear another snow day, celebrate it! Children are a blessing from the Lord, and each day His mercies are anew. Hope you find these ideas heart warming and adventure sparking.

1. Hot Chocolate Lessons. Dive in to hot chocolate fun: http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2011/01/hot-chocolate-lessons.html

2. Cookbook Quest. Flip through some old cookbooks, or online at allrecipes.com, and find some new meals and desserts to make! Getting creative in the kitchen is a wonderful way to spend time with your kids and learn as a family. Let them take charge!

3. Skate!!! Grab some ICE SKATES from your local thrift store, or head to the nearest ROLLER SKATING RINK, and skate the day away! Pack some high protein snacks and glide on.

4. Spend a Day in Deuteronomy
. Here is a full day of activities inspired by Scripture: http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2015/09/sola-scriptura-series-for-home.html

5. Snowboard, sled, snowshoe, cross-country ski!
Winter sports are amazingly fun! Don't let the cold scare you away, just make sure the kids and you have plenty of insulation in your winter apparel and proper head covering, and head out to enjoy the snow! If you have or know someone with the right equipment, you can even try ice fishing.

6. Make Maple Syrup! Depending on the time of year, consider tapping your backyard maple trees, or exploring an area nature center that taps them to make homemade maple syrup. It only takes a few trees tapped to make enough for a single family. We love our maple syrup adventures. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2012/03/from-field-trip-to-our-backyard-maple.html

7. Imagination Day! Unplug and let the kids exercise the creative muscles in their brains. Dress-up clothes, or a few small adult things like a briefcase, purse, and maybe a magnifying glass are some helpful props to get them started. Let them play out a spy mystery mission, or transform the couch or a cardboard box into a space ship, passenger train or hot air balloon. Let them be. Don't supervise. Let them get lost in their world of play. Kids who often have every moment structured for them may take a little longer to calm their stimulation habits to get into this mode, but give them space and remember it is the best thing for their growing minds to absorb.

8. Make a math day. Here are 7 simple ways to mix up your math routine. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2014/02/seven-simple-ways-to-mix-up-your-math.html

9. Drop Everything and READ day. Start a new book, individually or as a family.

10. Smitten Mitten. Here are some cute ways to enjoy Jan Brett's book, "The Mitten". Board books aren't just for toddlers. Good stories make magic for all ages. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2010/12/first-snow-and-making-most-of-mitten.html

11. Is it Groundhog Day? Say no more... http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2012/01/more-fun-groundhog-day-activities.html

12. Lego Day. Get building! If you don't have legos, call your local library and see if they have some in-house you can go use.

13. Make beaded jewelry. Bracelets, necklaces, ankle bracelets, barrettes and more.

14. Under the Sea! Explore the amazing elements of sea horses with this fun sea horse study: http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2011/08/see-seahorse-unit-study.html

15. Dance Party Day!
Crank up the radio or a mix of your favorite worship songs and dance the day away with your kids! You can even learn a new type of dance. After all the wiggles are out, try looking up steps to the Charleston, or FoxTrot! If you have enough people around, you can even start learning how to square dance! FUN!

16. Make Modeling Dough. Creating things with pottery or modeling dough is fun for everyone. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2012/07/math-modeling-dough.html

17. Snow Survival Skills. Read through avalanche survival stories with your kids (non-gruesome ones!). Talk about emergency winter preparations. Learn how to build a fire in the snow! My husband and son do this with our local cadet troop during winter camp-out trips. Other survival activities include: learning how to tie knots, make an emergency winter kit for your car, build a solar stove or research how to find food in the winter wilderness.

18. Spa Day. Pamper the kids with foot soaks, homemade food facials, nail painting and bubble baths.

19. Draw something new. Pick up some new step-by-step drawing books (robots, horses, whatever your kids love) from the library, or look online for free tutorials. The ideas out there are endless. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2012/03/fun-drawing-books.html

20. Feet Paint! Create all sorts of adorable works of art with your kids' feet. Butterflies, trucks, anything you can dream up! Check pinterest for inspiration, set up newspapers and a small tub for rinsing, and let the kids explore foot prints with washable paint.

21. Indoor Obstacle Course. If you have the living room or basement space, create an indoor obstacle course for the kids to do. It is not as complicated as you may think. All you need are some simple station ideas. One wall to do spider stretches/handstands against, perhaps something you can use as a balance beam, string/tape/hoops to use as circles they can hop along, an area to do sets of jumping jacks, a mat or blanket to do somersaults on, etc.

22. Apple of Your Eye. Who says it has to be autumn to enjoy an apple day? Here is a Johnny Appleseed day we enjoyed, but it can be fun any time of year. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2011/09/johnny-appleseed-day.html

23. Think Spring! Start some plants or sunflowers from seedlings, and make an indoor area greenhouse to grow and track them until the warmer seasons roll around.


24. Homemade Memory Game
. We often think of the game Memory as being a card matching game for small children. The truth is, exercising our memory skills is beneficial at all ages, even more so as we age. Try this tray game and mix it up for your kids depending on ages and abilities. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2011/12/memory-tray-game.html

25. Start a seasonal puzzle. Nothing gathers the family together for quiet, calming, contemplative time like a family puzzle project. Pick up a 600-1,500 piece puzzle, clear a table space and spend the winter coming back to it as the hours melt by.

26. Origami! Learn how to do origami, build paper airplanes, design paper snowflakes and explore other paper folding projects.

27. Farm or Zoo Day. Visit an Amish farm, orchard, or even explore a winter day at the zoo. You'd be surprised how active the animals are in the cold months as they try to stay warm.

28. Animal Shelter. Visit, volunteer or donate items of need to your local animal shelter. Winter is a tough time for abandoned pets. Extra food, blankets, even just time spent with the animals in need will be of great benefit to the shelter and to your children.

29. Freeze Experiments. Eggs, colored liquids, salt, solids, sand, paint, wax, water balloons... let your kids explore the elements by setting up a tub for them to freeze things. Have them track the time and temperatures for their experiments, along with their hypothesis and results.

30. Mummy Madness! Explore ancient Egypt for a day, week, or year! There is endless fun in history adventures. You can make the Nile River, or wrap the kids up as mummies using dollar store T.P.!

31. Tabletop Tennis or Bowling. Any table can be turned into a place for playing ping pong. Also, if you don't want to venture to your local bowling ally, you can create a simple tabletop bowling game with block pins and an all-purpose ball.

32. Habitat Happenings. Track and identify animal prints in the snow, and search out local spots that animals have built their winter homes. Squirrels, birds, fox, skunk trunks and more!

33. Jump into Joshua and Jericho. Here is a day unit with crafts and activities for the book of Joshua: http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2015/10/sola-scriptura-homeschool-series-joshua.html

34. Create a family time capsule. What elements of our living habits today would we need to include to explain our era to generations in the future? Photos, news articles, entertainment, how we eat and clean?

35. Make cards to deliver to the local nursing home. Even simple notes with a special verse or encouraging quote can really brighten the days and hearts of those in assisted living situations. No need to make an appointment, just show up and ask to pass them around. Invest in the elderly of your community and teach your children the value of spreading kindness.

36. Indoor camping. Set up a tent inside your house! Build a cardboard pretend fire, roll out the sleeping bags, and make s'mores. It will be sure to create unforgettable memories for your kids for years to come.

37. Make a Prayer Jar. Decorate a mason jar, or paper cover a shoebox. Write your prayers and favorite verses to collect inside. At the end of each week, or month, or even the end of the year, pull them out and look over the many ways God has grown and blessed you.

38. Book Publishing! Have your kids write and illustrate their own books. They can handwrite or type them out; color or cut-out pictures to paste along with it. You will be surprised at the fun they have, let the creative juices flow. If writing isn't a strong suite for you or your kids, there are countless creative writing prompts and ideas you can find online to inspire your young authors!

39. Learn a New Language
. Japanese, Hebrew, Spanish, French, Finnish, German, Danish, Portuguese, Latin... the list goes on. Your local library will have wonderful resources for you to use, and there are many wonderful online resources for introducing yourselves to learn a new language. Spend the day expanding your cultural horizons. Even just a day of dabbling in different languages can be a fun adventure.

40. Play with your Food. Combine snack time with craft time, and the possibilities are adorable.


I promise you don't need screens to pass the time. Forget the video games, television and tablet time. Make the most of this time with your growing children.
While schools keep insisting that *quantity* is the answer, I will consistently push back to urge families to carve out space for creative, quality time together. This not only helps authentic play and learning take place, but it seizes healthy growth in the ways that matter most for child development.
Need more ideas or inspiration? Here are 20 MORE ways to enjoy the days off with your kids. http://toeverypurpose.blogspot.com/2014/01/20-simple-things-you-can-do-to-enjoy.html

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A week's worth of homeschool lunches

I try to keep our lunches simple, but nutritious. I love that home educating affords us the freedom to reheat leftovers, and also to go straight to the plate. We don't have to spend the money on "convenience" foods that will be "lunch-able." We don't need to buy sandwich bags in bulk. And I don't have to worry about half the items going to the trash from distracted lunch room eating. Bonus? Whatever scraps we do have, go to our chickens, and provide further fresh eggs from our backyard, going back into the family.
It's not something I set out to do; it wasn't a reason in our education choice. Oh, but what a beautiful benefit. We have the freedom to enjoy breakfast foods at lunchtime, or dinner, or whatever we want. I can make sure our kids are getting all the protein, calcium and nutrients their growing bodies need, and we can save at the pocketbook. I often try to take a smaller portion of whatever we ate for dinner the night before, and easily incorporate it into lunch the next day just by adding different sides or changing combinations.
So here is another week of homeschool lunches, I hope you find them surprisingly simple and inspiring. God Bless!

Homemade pizza with fresh Amish mozzarella cheese

Honeycrisp apple, cucumber and chicken salad with sourdough bread

Bell peppers and blue corn chips, cottage cheese with blackberry, oranges and celery

Egg wraps, yogurt squeezers on sale, carrots, grapes and lettuce

Refried beans on romaine lettuce, tomatoes and baguette.