If your kids are like most, school snow closings are the highlight of the winter season. Get into the spirit with some of these fun outdoor activities. After you’ve expended your energy outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors as well.
SPONSORED BY: Forest Preserve District of Kane County – Explore Galore! | Visit Kenosha | Villa Olivia | The Princess Diana Exhibition | Downers Grove Ice Festival | WhirlyBall | Sonny Acres Farm – West Chicago | Fleetwood Roller Rink – Summit | Great Lakes Volleyball | Rock ‘N’ Kids
OUTDOOR WINTER FROLIC…
Take a snowshoe hike. Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family, and go on a trek through the woods or a field. Take your compass. But also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities.
Visit an ice sculpture show. Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks, and indoor arenas. Check with your local and nearby chamber of commerce or state travel bureau for events listings.
Visit a zoo. During the winter months, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits are easier to view because of smaller crowds.
Build an igloo or snow fort. Choose a day when the snow is suitable for packing. Use a square or rectangular container for building snow forts, which are often found in toy departments. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support.
Take a winter carriage ride. Look for horse-drawn carriages in tourist or trendy towns and quaint villages. Bundle up, and take warm blankets and hot beverages. Then enjoy a cozy ride through a snowy, festive town.
Enjoy a winter fest. Visit your chamber of commerce or state travel bureau website for a list of winter festivals and events. Activities to look for include light displays, fireworks, winter sports competitions, recreational activities, exhibits and ice sculpture displays, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and more.
Have a snow-sculpting contest, and invite your neighbors to participate. Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it with your hands again.
Make an ice tree. Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, turn it into a winter display. Stand it in your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect.
Go sledding. If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down them. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.
INDOOR ACTIVITIES FOR BLUSTERY DAYS…
Head to a museum. Most cities, even small towns, have a historical museum. Hands-on science, art, or natural history museums are found in most metropolitan areas or at nearby universities.
Grab your roller blades or skates and head to your nearby indoor rink. These arenas are updated for today’s kids and are a blast for parents and kids alike. If you’ve never roller-skated, take a class at the rink.
Create an indoor snow family. Buy black and white clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons from whole pepper, and noses from broken orange-colored toothpicks.
Tour a manufacturing plant. Tours are often available to the public even if they aren’t well-publicized. Just call to find out.
View the winter sky. Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year.
Hold a winter movie fest. Invite friends over, rent a selection of movies, and have everyone bring their pillows or beanbag chairs. Don’t forget the buttery popcorn and hot chocolate. If you’ve had enough of winter, hold a Hawaiian luau instead. Choose summery or vacation themed movies. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don’t forget the beach towels.
Make up funny skits with friends then put on a show for parents and neighbors. Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Be sure to videotape the skits for hilarious family memories.
Put together a winter emergency kit. Include spare hats, mittens, scarves, and boots, a flashlight, and other items in case you get stranded. Your home kit should include items for a snow-in or power loss. Have everyone work together to create a list and gather items for the kits.
String a snowflake streamer. Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes then string them on a piece of yarn, and hang it across the room.
Visit the library to snuggle up for a relaxing read. When you arrive, learn how and where to find books on your interests such as sports, science, or a hobby. Then choose several books to bring home. Don’t forget to check out music CDs, audiobooks, videos, computer games, and magazines for plenty of indoor entertainment.
Make a winter-safety trivia game. Buy a pack of small index cards. Then write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.
Getaway at a weekend resort. Check your travel agency for one of the many winter resorts for outdoor enthusiasts that offer activities and accommodations for the whole family. Try downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoe excursions, and more.
By Kimberly Blaker
Winter Boredom Busters
Forest Preserve District of Kane County
Need a change of scenery? Visit Creek Bend Nature Center for fun, interactive exhibits. There’s plenty to see and do – both inside and out! Learn all about oaks. See what the Fox River could look like below the surface. View bison specimens in our prairie wild exhibit. Enjoy scavenger hunts, hikes and scheduled nature programs. At Creek Bend Nature Center, there are things to explore galore! Admission is always free. We’re open: Monday – Thursday: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday – Sunday: Noon – 4 p.m. LeRoy Oakes Forest Preserve, 37W700 Dean St., St. Charles. www.kaneforest.com 630-444-3190
Enjoy a nine-day celebration of food and flavors in the Kenosha Area during Kenosha Restaurant Week! Join us February 19 – 27, 2022 to explore new places, re-visit old favorites, and show support to locally owned establishments. There will be great deals, as well as a variety of special offerings – so come hungry! Make it an overnight so you can enjoy shopping and attractions in the area, too. Learn more at www.VisitKenosha.com/RW or by calling 262-654-7307.
Learn to ski/snowboard or bring the family and friends for snow tubing. With six ski runs and a double wide tube hill Villa Olivia offers winter fun in your own backyard. We can even make our own snow! Book your winter fun online now at villaolivia.com. The season runs through March 6th (weather permitting). Villa Olivia is located at 1401 W. Lake Street in Bartlett. For hours of operation and weather-related information visit www.villaolivia.com or call 630-540-4199.
The Princess Diana Exhibition
Anticipated to be one of the hottest tickets this season, The Princess Diana Exhibition: Accredited Access, has made its Chicago debut and is open to the public at 19 Oakbrook Center. This exhibit is the first-ever walk-through documentary, telling the untold story of how a princess changed the world. For the first time, world famous Royal Photographers, Anwar Hussein and his two sons Zak and Samir, will share collections of their original images and the intimate, never-before-told stories behind them. The Husseins collectively spent four decades working side by side with the iconic Princess and her family and will reveal what they witnessed first-hand, both in public and private moments. Tickets are on sale now, and can purchased at www.feverup.com/m/104604
Downers Grove Ice Festival
Get out of the house for a weekend of fun, shopping and dining for all ages! The Annual Downtown Downers Grove Ice Festival returns February 4-6, 2022. Watch carvers demonstrate their art in person Friday evening under the lights at 5:30pm on the southeast corner of Main and Curtiss and on Saturday with live ice carving demonstrations on Saturday from 11am-3pm. The carvings will remain out as long as whether permits! Details at www.downtowndg.org or 630-725-0991.
Whether you’re planning your next family fun day, work outing, or holiday party, WhirlyBall Naperville has you covered for non-stop fun! In addition to WhirlyBall, there’s a multi-level lasertag arena, eight bowling lanes, a four-lane VIP private bowling suite, and HyperBowling. Offering a relaxed yet elevated dining experience featuring fresh takes on classic American fare, an expansive collection of 24 rotating craft beer selections, and refreshing signature cocktails. Reserve your space today! WHIRLYBALL NAPERVILLE, 3103 ODYSSEY CT, 630-932-4800, www.whirlyball.com/naperville
Sonny Acres Farm – West Chicago
Sonny Acres Farm offers endless possibilities when it comes to planning your next event, boasting 22 acres of space, perfect for a variety of special occasions. From breathtaking weddings set in one of our many beautiful backdrops to large scale corporate events, family reunions, kids birthday parties and more, the customization options are both fun and flexible to perfectly pair with any occasion. For extra “wow factor” at your next event, treat your guests to some of our seasonal offerings including access to amusement rides, petting zoo, hayrides around the property and much more. For a consultation on how to make your next event the best one yet, visit www.sonnyacres.com. 29W310 North Ave., West Chicago, IL 60185. (630) 231-3859
Fleetwood Roller Rink – Summit
Fleetwood Roller Rink (established 1957) is a family-owned business. Our venue hosts public skating, birthday parties (our specialty) privates and fundraisers. We promote family fun for all ages plus for “health sake, roller skate” Come visit us and join in our fun. Instruction available every Saturday at 1 pm Check for our ongoing specials and public skating times. Located at 7231 West Archer Ave., Summit. 708-458-0300. www.fleetwoodrollerrink.com
Great Lakes Volleyball Center
Looking for a summer volleyball camp for your son or daughter, well look no further? The Great Lakes Volleyball Center located at 579 N. Oakhurst Drive, Aurora, IL. 60502 offers summer volleyball camps for girls and boys of various ages and skill levels. GLC offers camps for the beginner as well as the advanced/elite level player. For more info, call 630-898-6400 or visit www.greatlakescenter.com FB: Sports Performance Volleyball
Rock ‘N’ Kids
In-person and virtual music, movement and imagination classes available for 1-6 years at park districts in Chicagoland! Tot Rock, Kid Rock and Rockin’ at Home programs are Interactive and educational, with each class including songs and rhymes, basic dance steps and movements, fine and gross motor skills, rhythm instruments and movement props, imaginative play, socialization and fun! Sing, dance, and play the Rock ‘n’ Kids way! We have been having fun with music for 27 years! Get more information at www.rockitkids.com.