Winter 2014 is going to be one for the ages. Students will talk about this year to their children: “I remember the winter where we didn’t have school!” School is an important part of children’s lives. Attending school helps students develop socially, physically, emotionally and academically. States feel school is SO important that they have mandates for the total number of days (and/or hour) a K-12 student attends during a given school year. When weather inhibits students ability to attend school, the educational process is disrupted.
Current practice in most states is to build in a few “snow days” to the calendar. When the weather requires more cancellations that normal, districts have to be creative in making up missed time by adding minutes to the day or days to the calendar. Does this work? probably not! Adding a few minutes to the remaining school days, does not make up for a missed day of learning. By adding days to the end of the year or canceling breaks, districts run the risks of students not attending due to pre-planned vacations over the breaks. Teachers also make plans for school breaks, whether it is a vacation of their own or scheduling professional development.
One district in Illinois, has come up with a creative plan to make every day count to its fullest. Using today’s technology tools, schools can turn snow days into e-learning days. Many teachers are already using the technology to keep absent students up to speed. Shouldn’t we just extend the expectations to “snow days”? States need to recognize that learning is not school dependent. Educators need to foster their relationships with students and parents by communicating learning expectations for working from home. Parents want/need activities for their students to complete when at home. Just look by looking at parents’ comments on Facebook, one can quickly notice a need for a blended learning approach to “snow days”.
Educators need to let their legislature know that we can make everyday count, Even when the students are working from home.
Here is another example of a district using e-learning days!
Or when technology might not be at home Blizzard Bags are discussed here.
Of course that is our children’s first reaction. Then when they finally wake up to the day, we get,”I am bored.” Happens every time. As parents we ask “What do you want to do?” After wearing out the screens in our house and bumming around the house utter boredom quickly follows.
Here is a quick list of things to do on a snow-day: (Non-tech)
1. Make snow Ice Cream; most of the things you have in you cabinets just need fresh, clean snow from outside! Recipes are all over the internet and easy to experiment with. Here are a few. Basic formula is:
- Snow- about 4 cups – make sure it is clean, don’t want yellow snow!
- Sugar- to taste about a cup
- Vanilla or cocoa- TSP
- Milk or cream if desired
Short video showing how to do it!
My kids wanted to add Maple syrup and wife added coffee, all turned out well
2.Conduct cold weather experiments like these. My son Griffin had tons of fun with the boiling water as seen in this video:
Or you could set up a green-house and melt frost as described here.
3. Build something cool out of the snow!
Let your child’s imagination run wild!! I even saw a snow alligator once.
4. Books, puzzles and board games- What we did before technology. Our children can greatly benefit by being exposed to tools of the past.
5. Expose your child to crafts or your hobby. When I was a child my grandfather introduced me to coin and stamp collecting. My mother exposed me to cooking and crafts. During a snow-day spend time and share your crafts and hobbies with your child. Build or make something that allows you to make a connection with your child. A good place to start is spoonful’s website
If all else fails, helping out with chores around the house keeps the children busy and helps them learn about shared responsibility. They can help shovel the snow, clean up room, sort through toys, and put away laundry.
Enjoy the snow-day with your children by giving them meaningful things to do. Have fun, stay warm and safe!!
For most of the Midwest tomorrow is going to be a snow-day. I saw a tweet the other day about tossing boiling water up into the frigid air. I tried it with my son. Should be something you try with your child on a snow day.
Here is a video of my son doing it.
If you are still looking for ideas you could also try blowing bubbles out in the cold and watching them freeze as explained in this story: http://distractify.com/culture/arts/frozen-bubbles-in-wintertime/ .
Have fun! Learn on the snow-day! Stay safe and warm!!