February 28, 2008

Snow-Day Igloo

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"Snow Day!"

For kids who live in colder climates, there are no words more magical than these. Here in the Midwest, we've already had a healthy amount of snow days, so instead of taking another snowy hike or sledding down our almost-hilly-enough driveway, I decided we'd build an igloo.

"Cool!" came the chorus from all three boys. This was even better than basement fort-building – a real igloo just like the one Les Stroud tried -- and failed -- to build on an episode of his show, "Survivorman."

After finding directions online (search "igloo" on www.pbskids.org), I braced the boys for a potentially failed igloo here at home. "Whether or not we build an igloo will depend on the type of snow we have today," I said. "Too dry and blocks won't form, too wet and they won't support the dome."

The neighbor kids -- brothers a year older than Jackson -- were over by now, so I sent them out to test the snow. Not too wet, not too dry: game on!

The three friends became a model of efficiency the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers would envy: one molded snow bricks using a metal loaf pan and loaded them onto a sled; another worked on grout (not necessary for igloo making, but it kept them busy, so who was I to argue?); and the third boy stacked the bricks in an ascending spiral, according to the design.

Eventually, they lost patience with trying to get the bricks to angle inward to form a dome and headed off to sled down our driveway. But we were all proud of what turned out to be the best snow turret our neighborhood has ever seen.

For families living in areas where snow days aren't a regular occurrence, no need to despair -- you can make a tabletop igloo out of modeling clay following the same principles used for snow, or you can build one out of sugar cubes. Your kids won't get a day off of school, but they'll have fun anyway.

Do you and your family like to get creative on snow days? What are your favorite cold-weather activities? Click the comments link below to share ideas.

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Snow-Day Igloo

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