Family Winter Fun: Playing With Snow

Sugar on snow, an old time favorite.
Sugar on snow, an old time favorite.

By Sandra Scott

Forecasts are for a long, cold and snowy winter. Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you this winter. Get out there and have some fun with the family.  Here are five tips.

1. Sugar on Snow

This is an old-time favorite from the days of the sugar shanty when kids would hang around waiting for a sweet treat. Now you can make it at home. Have a pan of hard packed, clean snow ready. Keep the pan outside to keep cold while you prepare the syrup. Boil 1/2 cup of pure maple syrup (it has to be the real thing) until it reaches 235°F on a candy thermometer (the soft-ball stage). Remove the syrup from the heat and immediate drizzle it over the packed snow. Be careful — the syrup will be very hot. Allow it to cool for a moment, and then enjoy!

2. Play Fox and Geese

Another oldie. Gather as many people as you can for this game of tag in the snow. Make paths through the snow in the shape of a wagon wheel. Stamp down a four-foot circle in the center of the wagon wheel. This is nest — a safe zone for the geese. Choose one person to be the fox. The fox tries to tag the rest of the players, who are the geese. All the players must stay in the circle whoever is tagged by the fox then becomes the fox and has to chase the geese. Only one goose can be in a nest at a time.

3. Ice rink

All you need is a flat, level area on your lawn. When the first snow comes, shovel off an area about 12’ square. Form a rim of snow about one-foot high and one-foot thick around the rink. Pat and stomp the snow until the rim is very firm. When the temperature drops to at least 20º F, adjust the nozzle of a garden hose to a fine, even spray, and sprinkle the entire rink until the water freezes 1/2” deep. This will give the rink a good foundation. If the ground is porous, you can put down a plastic sheet before sprinkling, to prevent seepage. Once the first layer of ice is solid and even take off the nozzle, lay the hose down on the rink, and let the water run until it is 2” to 3” deep. Let it freeze solid. Make a smooth surface by adding another “layer” of water each night for several nights and letting it freeze. Each time you add a layer of water, lightly spray your snow rim, too, to keep it frozen. When your rink is about 8” thick, it’s ready to skate on.

4. Snow creatures

Anyone can build a snowman. Be creative and make a snow creature. For a Loch Ness monster, roll three large snow balls near each other, add snow between them but let the rounded top show. Add a larger snow ball at one end and three small ones at the others. Connect them by packing snow between them nearly to the top of the snow balls. Create a head out of the largest one and a tail out of the three smaller ones. Gather more snow to finish out the creature. You can color it by adding food color to water and spraying it. It will have to be colored often. Or use fabric dyes. Add decorations of your own.

5. Fort walls

Build two fort walls as protection for snow ball fights. Make a choir of snow angels, spray colored halos. String popcorn and cranberry and decorate the trees providing food for the birds.