PLAY, LEARN AND EXPLORE IN THE OUTDOORS

Volunteer angler Don Blasy of Waterdogs Fishing Club teaches and encourages 8-year-old Rusty as he enjoys ice fishing for the first time.

  

 

Whatever it takes to get kids outside and engage with nature, I’m all for it. 

  Sure, gloomy, shorter days can be a challenge this time of year, but it’s worth it to nudge the family out the door for lots of fresh air, new experiences and exercise. 

  That’s what 8-year-old Rusty and his dad, Chris, decided to do recently when they heard about the opportunity to try ice fishing with other families on a frozen metro lake in Minneapolis. Once volunteer angler Don Blasy of Waterdogs Fishing Club helped Rusty sink his line 30 feet down, the boy sat attentively in front of the 10-inch hole in the 18-inch thick ice. Patiently holding his pole with an eye on the bobber, he hoped a little bluegill (sunfish) swimming in the weeds on the lake floor below might take a nibble off the waxworm bait. 

  “It’s good to get kids outdoors, and any kind of fishing, wherever you live, is something kids can enjoy for the rest of their lives,” said Don, a lifelong fisherman who learned fishing as a kid from his dad. “Ice fishing is something kids can do during long winters in cold climates. The sport also teaches them perseverance and patience, especially when the fish aren’t biting.” 

  If sitting on a bucket on a frozen lake in subfreezing temps doesn’t inspire you, there are many other things to do and places to explore outside the four walls of your home. Hibernation isn’t an option. 

  In the wild

  Check in this paper or online for free or reasonably priced events at your local park, regional nature center or arboretum. It’s important for kids to experience the changes of seasons in different venues, and wintertime provides fun new discoveries of plant and wildlife.

  Take a walk 

  Enjoy walking any time of day. Increase your pace to a jog with older kids for an extra challenge. Or take a long hike. Inhale the aromas of the natural world around you and tell stories of your adventure when you get home.

  Share what you love

  Teach your child something that you enjoyed doing as a kid, and rediscover that joy when you are together. Build a snow fort, snowshoe, ice skate, hike or check out a beach and the sea life in tide pools when the tide is low. Take photos of outdoor scenes and people, or build a campfire and toast marshmallows. Yum, s’mores in winter!

GET INSPIRED WITH THE WINTER OLYMPICS


Let the excitement of the 2018 Winter Games in distant Pyeongchang, South Korea, Feb. 9-25, I know that it’s made me really want to hit the slopes and plan a lovely winter holiday for next year. I’m sure the kids will love it and my partner will want to look for new mens snowboard boots because his current ones haven’t been used in years! With all the planning needed for a holiday, it’s not realistic that we’ll be holidaying this year so you’ll need some activities to keep your kids engaged with the Olympics.
The weeks of daily television coverage that follow the pageantry of the opening ceremony bring opportunities for your family to learn and have fun together watching the competition. Here are some teachable and inspirational moments the games can provide as you and your kids cheer for your favorite athletes.

WATCH AND LEARN
Devote a family bulletin board (or use a large piece of poster board) to the Olympic Games. Hang it in your kitchen or in a place where you come and go. Help your children find, cut out and display newspaper, magazine or printed online articles of athletes they are rooting for and admire. They might even be your hometown favorites.
To add to the spirit of the games, make a chart with their favorite athlete’s names, nationalities and sports. Note achievements as the games progress.
The Olympics are also a great tool for teaching kids global geography. You might hang a world map near your television or computer to locate continents, countries and cities.

NEVER GIVE UP
The skills and stories of hard work, courage and persistence of thousands of athletes worldwide are inspiring. When they tumble and fall, they get back up and keep on going, teaching those of us at home to strive to do our best. And remember, despite their talent, even the best trained athletes still make mistakes and only a small percentage actually win a medal.
Ask your children what personal characteristics they think led to the success of the athletes you watch. Then talk about the sports they enjoy in their lives and the challenges and feelings of accomplishment they experience on the ice, in a gym or snowboarding down a hill.

BRING HOME THE SPIRIT OF THE GAMES
Encourage a spirit of cooperation when engaging in your own family projects, sports and games. Winning certainly is fun, but encouraging and supporting others can be even more enjoyable. If you’re playing board games, tackling a household chore or if you’re inspired to try an Olympic sport like ice skating or skiing, aim toward challenging one another in a cooperative spirit.

SNOW CASTLES, ICE SUNCATCHERS, AND ICE PUNCHBOWL MOLDS

 

Snow days are often a highlight of any kids winter. They get the day off school AND they get to play all day? A win-win in their eyes. They get to build snowmen, have snowball fights, and sled all day long. Plus, if it is too cold to go outside, they still have plenty of KLS videos they can watch to keep them entertained. There are lots of unique activities you can do when it snows so we’ve highlighted a good one below.

“I’ve never seen snow fall,” said 37-year-old Megan Anduri-Flynn, biology instructor and mom of 5-year-old Nicola, until a rare snowstorm surprise hit in Beaverton, Oregon. “We got a foot of snow, and it stuck.”
The unexpected wintry blast opened up new opportunities for family play, including for Nicola’s California-raised 69-year-old grandmother, who made her first snow angel in the backyard.
An avid nature lover, Megan and her husband’s move from Southern California was motivated by her love for Oregon’s rustic outdoor living. But when she packed up Nicola’s beach toys, she didn’t expect that her buckets and shovels would be used for building castles of snow instead of sand.
Taking advantage of the fabulous snow day, Nicola scooped the fluffy stuff and packed it into the buckets, then flipped them upside-down, like she had done with damp sand on the sunny beaches of L.A., to create snow castles for a charming kingdom to play in.

She dabbed watercolor paints with a brush here and there on the snow-packed structures. Plastic Disney characters Jasmine, Cinderella, Ariel and Belle were placed on roofs and turrets to bring the scene to life in her imagination.


Inspired by the freeze, she also made beautiful icy suncatchers to hang from branches using baking pans and her great-grandmother’s metal gelatin molds.

This easy craft is fun to make during wintertime, anywhere. If you are in a warmer climate, make the indoor version in your freezer for a punchbowl when friends come by for a special occasion.
ICE SUNCATCHERS
Here’s the stuff you’ll need:
–metal cake pan or cupcake pan
–dried flowers, leaves, potpourri for suncatcher
–decorative edible items such as thinly sliced oranges, limes, strawberries and mint for edible version
–strong string or wire for a hanger
–water
–food coloring (optional)
Here’s the fun:
1. Set natural decorative items into the pan. For punch-bowl ice, add edible items. When frozen, remove and add to punch.
2. For outdoor version, add a 20-inch length of twine or wire in the water, making sure it is submerged near the top of the mold. Fill with water and set in the freezer.
When the temperature outside is freezing, remove the ice shape from the pan and hang from a branch where a glimmer of light will shine through.