In which Brianna endeavors to acquaint those new to snowy regions with the essential tools for winter wonder enjoyment. This post will contain some affiliate and non-affiliate links, but it's all great. If you make a purchase using an affiliate link, we get money from that sale, which helps keep Busy Nest News going. Thanks!
Greetings, snow newbie! If this is your first winter playing in the snow with kiddos, you are in for some fun!
Good news! If you’ve ever brought toys to the beach, you are in luck. Snow isn’t all that different. That is, if it’s the sticky kind of snow. Some snow is very soft, and powdery. That snow is beautiful, but it is difficult to really play with. You need dense, wet snow. How do you know if the snow is good for packing? Try making a simple snowball in your (gloved) hands. If it sticks together and forms a decent ball, it’s ready.
So what do you do with your perfectly packable, wet snow? Besides snowball fights, you can build with it! If you have ever built a sandcastle, you pretty much know what to do. If you’ve got a shovel and a cooler or bucket, you can even build snow forts! You might not have enough snow (or more likely, time) to build a full on igloo, but you can start with some low walls, and build benches on the interior. The next time you go outside, add to it until your walls are as high as you want them. You can also build a snow fort by burrowing directly into the side of a large snowbank. Little kids can get pretty good at this method.
If your family is into a little light thrill seeking, you must try sledding or tubing. Even if flat regions, tubing and sledding hills can be made by moving massive amounts of snow into a temporary hill, usually with the assistance of plows or front loaders. Ask around about where the good sledding is in your area. Some hills might even offer conveyor belts or lifts to help you get back to the top. We call this cheating. Just kidding! If your little is very little, find a sled big enough to accommodate two of you at once. This way, they can sit between your legs or on your lap until they are big or fearless enough to go on their own. Sleds come in all sorts of shapes and materials. The main styles are saucers or toboggans, but people have been known to make do with lunch trays or shovels (see: It’s a Wonderful Life). Saucers are round, and toboggans are long and narrow. Plastic sleds are pretty cheap, and easily acquired at stores everywhere. The grocery store might carry them for a week or two, and hardware stores will have a decent selection. The problem with plastic or inflatable sleds is that they’re very susceptible to cracks and punctures, so the more you use them, the more you’ll have to replace them. Good, wooden toboggans on the other hand, if cared for properly, can last generations. I’m not kidding.
Skates & Cocoa
So we have shovels and pails for building in the snow, extra accessories for dressing snowmen, bottles of colored water for painting, and some good sleds for getting down hills really fast. All that’s left to mention are actual winter sports! I can’t speak much to skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, hockey, or skating. I can tell you, though, that many communities will assemble skating rinks in public places during the winter. You pay a small fee to skate, and if you’re at a private rink (such as a community center or university) you can rent skates at a pretty good rate. I encourage you to try this, as it’s a good chance to find out if your little is into skating, without shelling out for ice skates. Bonus: all of the venues I mentioned often sell cups of cocoa on site (for 50¢-$1), so you can warm up together right away over steaming cups of chocolatey goodness after the skating is over!
Ariel’s Two Cents: Not willing to shell out the cash for a wooden toboggan, but wary of purchasing a plastic sled? The Flexible Flyer Flying Saucer hits the sweet spot. It is a steel saucer, so it will have long time durability like a wooden toboggan without a hefty price tag. Though if you enjoy the Flying Saucer, I do recommend upgrading to a wooden toboggan like the Flexible Flyer Steel Runner. Given the right conditions, steel rails allow the best control and the fastest speeds. I know! As a parent it can be nerve wracking. But your child will love it. Plus most wooden toboggans like the Steel Runner are large enough to accommodate both an adult and child, and have a steering shaft built in. So you can sled with your child until you feel they are capable of taking over the reigns. Have fun sledding!
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Ariel and Brianna are friends who met while working in a library. Now they collaborate to develop life-enhancing book club experiences.
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