Sunday, February 20, 2011

Ice Curling!

Had I asked my son to help me remove ice off the deck he would have, but with a bit of grumbling.

Tell him that I made up a new game called "ice curling" --- well, he couldn't put on his snow pants fast enough! To get started, I asked him the rules for curling and thanks to the Wii he could explain in full detail how the game is played. The main difference in our game was that the object was to get the ice blocks to slide off the deck. After the 2nd or 3rd attempt we found that if he pushed the block and I was the sweeper we could get them off the deck quite quickly.

Once we were well into the game my son had an 'aha' moment. "You know mom, this isn't like curling. This is more like hockey! And we should have kept score because Montreal is REALLY beating Boston!"

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Snow Castle

I decided in December that I wanted to make a  Snow Castle for our little Queen. I figured a special place for her to play would be a good distraction while my son was busy sledding. So I took our plastic playhouse an found a good spot for it. The first few snow falls I shoveled some extra snow around it's base. I attempted to use the snow brick maker to make an igloo effect but the process seemed much too tedious. Piling snow was much easier for the kids and I to do together.
As the snow on the ground got deeper the Queen had trouble walking to her castle, so I had to shovel her a path every few days. Our last snowstorm nearly covered the castle! The windows are completely blocked and the roof is looking like it might need to be raked off. Inside the castle there is a "stone floor"...which is the leftover ice painting blocks from our New Year's Day project. That's right those ice blocks haven't melted yet! Got to love Vermont!

The effort was all worth it because the  Queen loves her castle and visits it just about every time we are outside!

Bean Toss

Two weeks ago I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Heidisongs. She had this fun math game called 'Bean Toss Addition'. Basically you take dried lima beans and spray paint them. Once they're dry you put a few in a cup, shake, and pour. The child then writes an addition sentence based on the colors of the beans. So if two green and 3 white are poured, the child would write the addition sentence 2+3=5. (Her blog explains this more clearly and offers a couple of free printables.)

If you look at her blog there is a picture of vibrantly painted lima beans against some lovely green grass. It inspired me to buy some beans and make these for my 5 year old. So I got the supplies I needed and headed outside. The beans turned out bright and cheery but they just don't look as lovely as Heidi's. Just to add to the effect I put a few icicles in my photo!

The grass may be greener in California, but at least my lima beans are green here in Vermont. (And in 10 more weeks the grass might just be green here too!)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Indoor S'mores

This afternoon I gave my son some pretzel sticks and mini marshmallows for a snack. He immediately speared all of the marshmallows with the pretzels and explained that he was roasting marshmallows & making s'mores.
This led to a conversation about his last birthday party. He said the best part of the 'Camp Out' party was when all of his friends sat around the campfire and made real s'mores. He said his second favorite thing was our Nature Scavenger Hunt when he and his cousin were the only ones to be able to find all the things on the list. Then we agreed that we would have friends over more often to play in our forest and we would make LOTS of campfires with LOTS of real s'mores!

So even though we didn't get to spend much time outside today, at least we were able to reminisce about our nature adventures!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Snow Shelters

What better way to celebrate winter then to build some sort of snow shelter. I began doing research in December so that when we had adequate snowfall I would be ready to build with the kiddos. I should mention that my husband knows how to build snow shelters but I thought it might be fun to suprise him with one that my son & I built before he came home from work!

Well January came and went but I never got it together to build a snow shelter.

Luckily we had a parent volunteer offer to come build a snow shelter for the kids at Nature Preschool. So this afternoon she came and made a snow cave in an existing snow bank, which will be be big enough for 2-3 kids to play inside together. We also mounded the snow up for a good size quinzee. Luckily my husband came by after work to help us make a sizeable pile of snow. The mound will sit over night tonight to settle, and the parent volunteer and I will dig it out (hopefully) before the children arrive tomorrow morning. It kind of felt like an Amish barn-raising since in all we had 5 adults and 3 kids making our snow shelter become a reality.

My son also got into digging but he focused more on making a volcano at the top of a snow bank, rather than at the base. I told him it looked more like a snow chair to me, but he assured me that it was indeed a volcano!

I think the Nature Preschool kids are going to be really excited to check out the snow shelters. Fingers crossed that the moning temps are warm enough to spend time outside!

A couple of resources that I found helpful in researching snow shelters:

The book, "How to Build an Igloo and Other Snow Shelters", is chock full of great ideas.

And this website lists one mans attempt at different snow buildings-

Sunday, February 6, 2011


What a wild storm that we had last night! It was snowing, then sleeting, then came the craziest surprises--- thunder and lightening! A thunder storm in February in Vermont? I had never heard of such a thing so I needed to learn more. This link explains the science behind 'Thundersnow'.

Too bad my kiddos missed out on this rare storm. They were already snug in bed and I wasn't about to wake them up~~~ even though my nature loving 5 year old would have LOVED to see it!

Creating Writing Friendly Playscapes

This link has great ideas for playscapes to encourage kids to write while outdoors. I am starting my plans for new 'playscapes' this year and I am going to definitely use some ideas from here!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Icicle Harvesting

At 6 a.m. this morning I ventured outside to harvest icicles.  The task was made that much more interesting with the -13F temperatures! I filled our large cooler half full of the icey beauties. I suppose I could have woke up my kids to help, but let's just say I wasn't feeling quite that adventuresome.
So why would I go icicle harvesting? Well, my lesson today for Nature Preschool is about ice. What better way to explore ice but by bringing real icicles inside to explore!

If you want to explore ice with your children, check out the ideas at this website:

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Happy Groundhog's Day

Despite Phil's prediction of an early spring we had a HUGE snowstorm today. The whole family ended up being home for a snow day, which rarely happens in Vermont. So we spent the day eating good meals and spending quality time together.
Our outdoor 'nature time' focused mainly on the adults shoveling while the kids played. At one point my son lost his toy shovel down a steep bank and went to retrieve it. I had a scary feeling that an avalanche might occur because we had piled a large amount of fresh powdery snow in that area and it seemed unstable. Luckily he got up the hill unscathed.
His next project was making new sledding runs in front of the house. Despite his best efforts he kept sinking into the powdery snow. So I had to put down my shovel (boohoo) and use his sled to pack down the runs. It's great to have an excuse to stop all productive work in order to help your child sled. After a bunch of laughs, since I too would occasionally sink down, we agreed that getting a foot of snow in just a few hours is a lot of fun...but then again Daddy was the one left doing most of the shoveling today!

Our next outdoor project --- build a snow shelter.  Hopefully we will make it this weekend!