Advice: Family Vacations & Fun in the Snow – Maple Sugar Sticks, Snow Angels, and Elf Tracks.
Snow makes cheap, easy fun. Bundle up and get outside with your kids and recreate winter with fun in mind. From making snow angels (my personal favorite) to snow forts, snow hikes, and snowman making, fun is waiting and there are memories to be shared and family traditions established. Here's the scoop.
The good news is that the old ideas have been reinvented by the current generation. Snow jumping and snow shadow-dancing will always be reinvented but the fun factor will not be diminished. While I know that trendy parents already know what’s new in and on the snow, I am sharing our discoveries just in case you need inspiraton. I know many grandparents as well as aunts and uncles who need to find the the snow fun channel. Make a pink snowman with snow.
Frosty, the once famous snowman, has been has been replaced by the politically correct snow person (any name will do) but the idea is the same. In trendy neighborhoods and at ski slope schools these new age creatures come in many sizes from Lilliputian to grand and some even come in colors. All anyone needs is soft moist snow and mittens. These new snow creatures will appear with just a little work or is that a little play? Insider tip:
Use food coloring in a spray bottle or eyedropper for new age pizzazz. I still like basic white with a carrot nose and two eyes made out of coal, where does one get just two pieces of coal and matching top hat?
Taste maple sugar sticks in the snow.
At “Sugar Shacks” in Quebec guests are treated to slender tasty maple sugar icicles. Some are free form and some more ridged but all are delightfully scrumptious on a cold winter day. Can’t get to Quebec this week? Make your own version (Outside of course.). All it takes is snow and syrup and a little patience. Collect a cake pan of fresh, clean snow. Really, you may need several pans because this is great fun. Make several parallel channels and inch wide and about an inch apart. Pour the maple syrup into the channels. Insider tip:
If authentic is not available then your favorite grocery store brand will do. Now this is where the patience is needed. It will freeze before your very eyes. Off with the mittens, pick one up and enjoy. As long as it is frozen it won’t even be sticky. Create Elf Tracks with snow.
These little snow treats have many different names (fairy boots, snow stars) but the idea is still the same. The recipe for Elf Tracks combines caramel, fresh snow and cold temperatures. Melt the caramel candy in a saucepan (Traditionalists do it over a campfire outside.) When the caramel looks like thick syrup take pan outside. Spoon-drip the caramel on to top of fresh snow in the shape of little elf tracks and in no time they will be treats. For those that grimace at the idea of eating elf tracks, try a star or snowflake pattern. Insider tip:
The California version uses chocolate with the caramel in the same way but the result is called a snow doodle. Make your own snow cones.
Do-it-yourself treats make snow days fun. Get a box of sugar cones. Find clean snow. The best is the stuff collected just after falling. The trick when the snow is old and crusty is to scoop under the top layer unless of course you live in Nunavit. Scoop some snow into the bottom of the cone and then mold a lovely round snowball to fit on the top of a sugar cone. Now pour a small amount of fruit juice over the cone. It will be obvious what to do next. Insider tip:
We have learned from Northern Canadians who spend time snowshoeing that it is great fun to make snow cones along the way. They use Kool Aide packets to create their treats during breaks along the trail. Snuggle up with a good "snow" book.
For parents or grandparents celebrating the snow season I have a book list. Perfect for a blizzard or to build vacation anticipation, these books have been kid-tested and parent reviewed. I love sharing my favorites - they are worth the read. Stone Fox
by John Reynolds, Marcia Sewell (Illustrator). Going to Colorado? This book is perfect for the trip. Willy, the main character, faces his situations with determination and love. Based on a Rocky Mountain legend, this book has all the ingredients of a winner, right down to the unforeseen drama at the finish line. Ages 7-11 Always Dream
(Positively for Kids Series) by Kristi Yamaguchi, Greg Brown (Contributor), Doug Keith (Illustrator) Two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi reveals how her determination, ambition and love of skating keeps her going. Ages 9-12. Balto, The Bravest Dog Ever
and Balto and the Great Race
by Natalie Standiford, Donald Cook (Illustrator). If dog sledding is in your future this book series is the perfect compliment. Balto lives a quiet existence as a sled dog--until tragedy strikes. Dozens of children in the remote town of Nome become sick with diphtheria. Heading bravely into a brutal blizzard, Balto leads the race for life. Ages 6-9. Dog Team
by Gary Paulsen and Ruth Wright Paulsen (Illustrator). For older children this book provides plenty to think about as the plot develops. It is an ideal book to read in tandem and discuss with your child. Ages 10-12. Sam the Zamboni Man
by James Stevenson, Harvey Stevenson (Illustrator). Matt's grandfather, Sam, has the best job in the world--he drives the Zamboni, the big machine that rolls around the rink at the hockey stadium. Ages 4 and older. Barney's Wonderful Winter Day
by Stephen White, Bill Langley (Illustrator). Great book and tape for kids to learn about playing in the snow. Reading level: Ages 4-8. Audio tape and book set. Giants Don't Go Snowboarding
(Adventures of the Bailey School Kids, 33) by Debbie Dadey, Marica Thornton Jones, John S. Gurney (Illustrator), Marcia Thornton Jones. The Bailey Kids go snowboarding. If your kids love to read the Bailey Kids - get them in the snowboarding mood. Ages 7-10.