Eco-friendly activities to beat the winter blues
By Andrea Kasprzak
From Green Goes Simple
Long winter afternoons can make anticipation for summer seem downright unbearable. Bust through the boredom with creative and eco-friendly activities that are designed to lift seasonal spirits. Below, green-living guru Sara Snow shares some of her favorite festive entertaining ideas.
Out of the Box
Challenge kids to get creative with all the extra packaging that arrived with their holiday gifts. The options are endless: wrapping paper tubes turn into tunnels, discarded boxes turn into forts, and cardboard scraps turn into space ships.
"My daughter, who is 18 months, has a tunnel made out of a huge furniture box, and we've drawn pictures on the inside walls so it's cozier," says Snow. "She crawls back and forth and sits in there with her books for what feels like hours."
"Your house doesn't have to lose all of its decorative cheer after the holidays," says Snow. "Busy the kids with paper, such as pages from holiday catalogues, the Sunday paper or used wrapping paper. Round up some crafting materials -- like scissors, glitter, string and glue -- and encourage the kids to make snowflakes. Afterward, decorate the windows and hang the snowflakes from the chandeliers. Talk about how no two snowflakes are the same. This is especially true when you're making snowflakes from recycled paper!"
Just because a south-of-the-border trip isn't on the immediate agenda doesn't mean things can't heat up inside. Take your kids on a summer-themed scavenger hunt around the house.
"Dress your kids in their swimsuits, sun hats and shades and keep them busy hunting through the house for clues that lead them to a beach party set up in the basement," suggests Snow.
"If your kids are old enough to be out in the elements, you can lightly bury household items (brightly colored spoons, beaded necklaces or even some small beach toys) in the snow. Send the kids outside to hunt them down."
For the Birds
Feed your feathery friends and get creative by making homemade bird feeders. "Use pine cones, bird seed and peanut butter," says Snow.
"Start by gathering pine cones from the yard. Cover the cones with peanut butter, making sure to mush it deep into the cone's center. Roll the gooey pine cone in sunflower seeds or a general bird seed mix, tie a string around the top, and hang it on a tree that's visible from your windows. You can also make a bingo board to mark off what kinds of birds visit."
Incorporate seasonal elements into some of your kids' favorite games, like putting a winter spin on "Pin the Tail on the Donkey."
"When winter doldrums have gotten the best of your kids, take this old game up a notch," suggests Snow. "Using old newspaper, make a giant snowman that you can tape or tack to the wall. Then cut out clothes and other features for the snowman (arms, feet, hat, nose, shoes, shirt, etc.). Using a necktie for a blindfold, turn your kids loose to pin the clothes on the snowman!"
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