Vacation started for our children last Friday. By mid-morning on Monday, Virgil was already using the “B” word, for Bored. A day later, though, he was full of ideas for how to spend his vacation. It’s almost as if his internal gears had to start moving in a new way, or he had to engage his brain differently. He helped me come up with the following alphabet of fun things for kids and families to do during the holidays. Help us find examples for letters E, J, Q, X, and Y, or add your own ideas to other letters!
• A is for snow angels, an age-old pleasure after fresh snow.
• B is for a snowball battle.
• C is for cookies — made and decorated by hand, some to eat and some to share. Or cleaning your room or the house, says Mom. (“That’s boring!” cries Virgil.)
• Decorate a tree or a bush for the animals. String cranberries or popcorn; set out birdseed or suet.
• Forts made of snow, fires for marshmallows, and fishing through holes in the ice: fun with fathers especially.
• Give to others. On Saturday, we visited two retirement homes nearby to read stories out loud with people there. Ursula and Virgil dragged their feet going in, but their faces glowed when they were done. Spend time with grandparents, your own or ones you adopt. Play games.
• Hockey, on skates or in boots; on ponds, at rinks, in yards or driveways; with gear or without. Make something by hand: a card to send, cookies, a gift, or something just because.
• I is for ice-skating — and icicles to lick or use as swords, says Virgil.
• Kites fly well in winter breezes. We fly ours over the pond once it’s good and frozen.
• Light a candle, go for a walk to look at Christmas lights, make your own luminaria out of candles, sand, and paper bags.
• Marshmallows in hot chocolate. Marshmallows roasted. Marshmallows as ammo, says Virgil, who made a marshmallow shooter out of PVC — but please, only outside, says Mom.
• Nuts, whole, to crack with a nutcracker. Or chestnuts, pulled out of the coals after roasting.
• Create your own snow Olympics: A three-legged race through the snow. Target practice with snowballs. Make up your own event.
• Pack a winter picnic. We take ours in the woods, build a fire, and cook up hot dogs, but there are lots of ways to have a winter picnic.
• Ride a snowboard, says Virgil, who wants to learn the basics this year.
• Snow sports: Snowshoeing, skiing, skating, sledding, snowboarding. Sword fights, says Virgil – with icicles! I’m not sure about that one, says Mom, who nonetheless remembers icicle sword fights with her brothers.
• Look for animal tracks in the snow. Draw pictures of them, keep a record of what you see.
• Ursula says, “Let me read in bed and sleep in, and I’ll be happy.”
• Virgil promises to practice his violin every day.
• Go for a walk. Dress warmly. Enjoy winter!
• Z-z-z-z-z. After all that activity, sleep well — maybe with visions of sugar plums dancing through your head, says Virgil.
“Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.