It was a very cold day. How cold was it? When I tossed a pitcher of water up into the air from our Minneapolis front door a couple of weeks ago, fireworks of ice crystals instantly appeared and exploded in all directions. I braved opening the door again because I couldn't resist blowing multitudes of soap bubbles to observe flash-frozen icy spheres dance as they descended and bounced on the ground.
We were frozen in our tracks as the polar vortex shut us down, giving our loyal mail carrier a day off and closing schools.
"No outdoor play" recommendations because of dangerous wind chill had parents scrambling for indoor ideas. Letting children create on a free day was the mantra of a friend who cared for two school-age girls. While one did an "alphabet search," hunting for objects around the house beginning with letters A-Z and photographing them with grandma's cellphone, the other went online to Target's website to pretend shop by jotting "purchases" on a sheet of paper, the challenge to "spend" less than $50.
A preschool teacher said her grandkids enjoyed creative thinking by making up clever activities based on nursery rhymes. For example, before preparing hard-boiled eggs for lunch, they recited "Humpty Dumpty" and came up with ways to protect him (bubble wrap!) from cracking on a "fall" from a shelf.
While you're not likely to get the brutally cold slap in the face we experienced, there are still stormy and rainy days that will keep your kids inside in the weeks ahead.
Here are three more fun indoor activities:
Be weather watchers. Check the weather online and in this newspaper. What are the conditions in another state or country where your friends and relatives live? Older kids can be reporters in a pretend weather center. One can be on location (by a window) while the other is in a mock "studio." What's the weekend prediction?
Get moving! Physical activity is a fun and natural part of life. Challenge kids to come up with an exercise routine to their favorite music. Be their student and let them teach the moves to you.
Tell stories. Cut out a picture from this paper, or use a printed photo from your last vacation. Encourage your child to tell a story, real or imagined, about it. Start by saying where it occurred, when it happened and what the character was doing. If your child gets stuck, encourage her by asking "And then what happened?