Snow Day Fun: Snow Painting and Snow Gems

2/26/10 - By Marcy

The flurry of city snow flakes might make you feel like popsicled parents and even your French bulldog might be in a snit about the salt on her tender tootsies, but it's "the more the merrier" when it comes to kids and those billowy drifts of white. Snow days are sure to be some of the lasting memories for your child, get out there as much as you can (as long as it is safe). But if the snowballs lose their luster, the snowman falls down and or maybe your child is really too young to do those things anyway, we have some ideas for colorful ways to enjoy the snow with kids.


Snow Painting
This is a cool, cheap, and almost no prep-time activity for all ages, toddlers included. Don't go and buy a pricey snow painting kit--the DIY version is far better.

You Need:
liquid food coloring, any brand--cheap is fine
tap water
recycled plastic spray bottles, any size (ideally with adjustable squirt / spray nozzle)

What You Do:

1. In spray bottle fill with about 2 cups of warm-ish tap water.

2. Add about ten drops of food coloring--more for some colors like yellow and red in my experience (if you want bold color). Mix colors with the kiddos for a Mini Science Experiment (we make orange with 7 drops yellow, then 3 of red). Screw on tops, shake to mix. TIP: spray a bit on a paper towel to check for intensity--if too faint, add more coloring

3. Take the bottles outside in a bag and have a ball painting snow art, snow mazes, or even coloring Mr. and Ms. Frosty! Use the "Squirt" or "Stream" setting for fine detail, and mist settings for larger areas. Experiment with spraying close-up or father away for effect. More Science in color mixing: Spray Yellow on the Blue for Green (even if you made green already), and so on for Orange, Purple, etc.


For best detail work (bigger kids like this) you'll get nicer results if you can pack and smooth down an area about four feet square

Don't waste time with oft-suggested squirt bottles (you'll waste too much as squirts sink in the snow) or paint-brushes-and cups (spills abound, not portable, only works on hard-packed snow--trust me you can get just as much control with the "Stream" pump). If you don't have any old bottles in the recycle bin Ricky's is worth a check (they use them for hair goo).


Snow Gems
This one inspires oooh's and aaaah's yet it's also easy to do and super cheap fun.

You Need:
a bag of small balloons
food coloring
tap water
a plastic shopping bag (optional)

What You Do:

1. Fill balloons up with tap water like you would a water balloon--make it between the size of an avocado and a small grapefruit.

2. Squirt in food coloring. Be generous (a BIG squirt). TIP: Don't shake or mix--that way you get clear and colored parts that look incredible.

3. Freeze either outside (weather permitting) or in your freezer overnight.

4. Peel off the outer latex and quickly have everyone oogle the amazing snow gems.

6. Fast as you can, load all your lovelies in a plastic shopping bag and take them outside to play all sorts of cool games with them before they melt. They can be fairy gems to hide from the mean troll, cosmic space gems for wee aliens, or superpower gems you better not let the bad guys get ahold of. To name a few. Or just let them adorn your igloo and snow fort!

TIP: Do this while there is still plenty of sun so you can see the swell sunburst shapes inside the gems. Also, the dye starts to concentrate on the inner core of the gems which makes them fine to handle before melting happens, but when these babies start to melt any kids in white wool gloves will be giving mom and pop a laundry challenge.

Have fun!

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