In Fort Worth winter storm, make it a great snow day for kids


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Jennifer Apperson and her daughter Clara, 9, slide down Stephens Lake Park hill on Wednesday in Columbia, Mo. Fort Worth may not get the type of snow to allow for sledding, but there are plenty of ways to keep kids entertained. (Don Shrubshell/Columbia Daily Tribune via AP)


Ah, the elusive North Texas snow day.

After last February’s once-in-a-generation days-long freeze (and its many concomitant consequences), public enthusiasm for freezing weather is probably at a minimum.

And because COVID-19 restrictions made telework and virtual schooling a norm, snow days don’t really have the same meaning they once did — for kids and adults alike.

Keeping off the roads the next 24-48 hours makes sense for a lot of reasons, including your own safety and that of the people who actually need to travel.

And being home with your kids (even if your virtual office is still open) can still be a good and productive time if you make it so.

Here are a few ideas on how.

Bake bread

North Texans are notorious panic-buyers.

If you saw the grocery store aisles this week, you know it’s true. So, there’s a good chance you didn’t snag that loaf of bread before the shelves went bare.

That means baking your own isn’t just an activity to keep you and your kids occupied, it may actually be a necessity.

Sourdough bread had its moment during the 20202 lockdown, when posting glamour shots of your starter was the hip thing to do.

But if that Mason jar in the back of your fridge isn’t looking as happy as it was last year, try a boule or a baguette this time.

If you’re short on flour, ask your neighbor for a cup or two. It will give you an opportunity to check in on them.

At-home science experiments

For a homeschool mom, the great “crate” subscription craze has been a lifesaver. (I’m talking about the science, craft and art crates that, for a fee, arrive at your door each month with ready-made, age-appropriate activities designed for you and your kids to complete together.)

But you don’t need a pre-fab box to find some simple idea for fun and educational activities — you just need the right search terms.

Try “homemade dish soap powered boats,” a favorite of ours. You make cardboard or compressed wood boats, mobilize them with dish soap and float them your bathtub.

Your kids will want to race them for hours. Or at least an hour.

The added bonus here is that if your pipes freezes, you’ve already got some water for boiling in reserve, all while teaching your kids about surface tension.

Play board games

It sounds cliche, but snow days are made for board games.

And most games can be easily played and enjoyed with kids of different ages.

If your board game stash is lean, a round (or 10) of hide-and-seek rarely disappoints. And if you are really good at it, you’ll get a few moments of quiet in your super-secret hiding place.

Read aloud to your kids

I could spend hours extolling the virtues of reading aloud to your children, not to mention the social, emotional and literacy benefits for kids. You need not take my word for it. There is lots of social science that backs me up.

But when evenings are largely spent carting kids to and from activities, the opportunities to gather for a good read aloud story become few and far between.

Thursday and Friday, you have no excuse.

Even older kids (and adults) enjoy being read to, especially if you use funny voices for different characters.

Right now my family is working through our third Roald Dahl story, and I highly recommend them all.

Movie time

If all else fails, gather for a family movie.

There are reports of power outages in parts of North Texas, mostly due to iced power lines.

But if yours is on, curl up together on the couch and enjoy some entertainment. Friends say that “Encanto” is great for kids of all ages. Personally, I like classic family movies on snow days, such as “The Sound of Music,” but the possibilities are seemingly endless.

One tip: keeping it to just one movie will make it more of a treat.

Stay warm. Stay safe. Enjoy your kids.

Let’s make snow days great again.

Cynthia Allen joined the Star-Telegram Editorial Board in 2014 after a decade of working in government and public affairs in Washington, D.C. She is a member of the Editorial Board and writes a weekly opinion column on a wide array of topics, including politics, faith and motherhood.

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