by Rachel Webb
There are a wide variety of winter recreational opportunities you can enjoy as a family that require no money, only warm clothes and an adventurous attitude! Here are some ideas for snow fun that can be enjoyed as close to home as your own backyard where you can have a snow sculpture contest, build an igloo or make a snow cave that kids will love using as a backyard fort.
To build a snow sculpture, start by making a sketch on paper. Choose a design with a basic shape for your first project. Figure out the approximate dimensions you will need to cut. You will want to use snow that is wet and can pack or shape easily. You will need several kitchen utensils and gardening tools to help carve and shape your sculpture including a spatula, knife, garden hoe and shovel.
After you have formed your shape you can embellish your sculpture with color and shading techniques by dissolving food coloring or fabric dye in water and them painting it on your sculpture with a foam crafting brush. When you are finished, use a spray bottle or clean brush to add a thin coat of water to your sculpture. The water will freeze and add a nice glaze to your sculpture evening out any rough area’s. Don’t forget to take a picture of your snow masterpiece!
BUILD AN IGLOO
An igloo can take many hours to construct because each snow block could weigh up to 40 pounds and will require a machete or ice saw to use to cut. This activity is for families with older children or energetic dad! Blocks should be cut approximately 1/2 x 1/2 x 2 1/2 foot rectangle. Place your blocks in a circle and trim them to form a spiral ramp that continuously winds up to the top of your igloo. Trim the inside of your blocks so that they tilt inward and overlap the blocks so that the vertical seams do not lie on top of each other.
When the walls are 3 or 4 feet high cut a temporary opening for your doorway and slide the block out. The dome can be closed in using a wedge shaped block that serves as the keystone. Next you will need to chink all of the holes between the blocks with snow, both inside and out. Or you can leave the top of the igloo open to use it as a fort for snowball fights. Help the kids make a colorful flag or family crest fly from your fort.
SNOW CAVE CONSTRUCTION
A snow cave is very similar to an igloo but instead of being made out of blocks of snow, a snow cave is hollowed out of a snow bank. Snow caves are faster to make than an igloo and the only tool you will need is a shovel.
I remember making a snow cave as a little girl living in Huntsville, Utah. We made lots of tunnels and would travel through the maze laying flat in our red wagon.
Building a traditional snow cave can also be a good way to teach kids about emergency winter shelters. To build a snow cave, choose a location with a steep hillside and deep snow. Your roof must remain at least 2 feet thick after your cave is completed. A snow cave is made up of three parts, the main cavity of the cave, the entrance hole and a ventilation shaft.
The smaller you can keep the entrance to your cave, the warmer the cave will stay. After hollowing out the cave, use the handle of your shovel to add an angled ventilation shaft to the roof of your cave. Last, you will want to compact and smooth the snow walls to turn the inside layer to ice. As long as your ventilation shaft is not blocked you can use candles or a lantern to light your cave and provide additional warmth.