Building Things in the Snow

by Ashley Wirgau

Winter has settled in for the season, and for some of us, the chill penetrates deep. Gray days and subzero temps keep us trapped indoors, taking a toll on our normally sunny outlook. But instead of hunkering down in front of the television with a bucket of popcorn and self-pity, shake things up tonight and head out into the cold, wet winter – because under that blanket of snow, there is an entire world just waiting to be created.

But before we jump into the entire world, we should start simple. Let’s get back to our childhood, our roots, where it all began - the snow man.

The Snow Man, Woman, or Child

Arguably the most beloved snow creation, the snowman has had a long run at the top of the winter wonderland food chain, but we shouldn’t limit ourselves. Yes, there is something special about the portly guy in the top hat with his carrot nose, and every winter demands at least one of these traditional cuties. Once he’s complete, though, why not stretch your creativity a little? Snow babies, snow ladies, snow angsty teens with headphones and dull expressions – your backyard is an empty canvas and there is nothing holding you back (except that frostbite creeping into your fingers). So, work fast! There’s a whole family of snow people to build before spring. Still not feeling inspired? Check out Momtastic’s slideshow of snowman designs to get you out of your frosty funk.

The Snow Creature

Tackling a snowman is easy. Any five-year-old with a solid pair of mittens can handle it. A true artist, however, seeks to challenge the status quo. For more involved creations, think animal kingdom and beyond. For beginners, try a rattlesnake or turtle. Maybe an alligator. Things that are low to the ground and require less support. Willing to take the leap to intermediate snow sculptor? A bear, dog or deer might be more in line with your talents. You might even play around with the texture, using a sharpened stick when you are finished to rough up the surface snow, creating the illusion of fuzzy hair. Fancy yourself a professional? Grab yourself a ladder and a couple hours of patience, then try your hand at a giraffe or Brachiosaurus or ET with his head extended three feet off of his shoulders. The longer the neck, the more impressive your skill.

The Snow Fort

While snow sculptures show off our artistic prowess, the snow fort is built to brag on our engineering abilities. Plus, you can do more than just stare at it; you can actually play with it. Design a castle, and your own little Anna and Elsa can rule over their wintery kingdom. When they tire of princesses and talking snowmen, they can use it as a base to pelt one another with snowballs. Either way, the kids are happy and, surprisingly, so are you. You’ve forgotten how much you used to love a good snowball fight, haven’t you?

Be sure to take care during construction, though, as these snow structures (especially the igloo style) can cave in without much warning, so it’s best to have a building buddy on hand. Popular Mechanics even provides a list of essential steps for building a well-engineered fortress that’s worth a quick read before you get started.

The Snow City

Once the glory of the snow fort has worn off, it’s time to think big picture and plan an entire snow city. If you have kiddos, this is the ultimate way to keep them entertained this winter. Grab whatever sand toys you have and get to work building your own miniature city complete with roads and skyscrapers, parks and tunnels. Then hand select a bucket of appropriate, weather-proof “inside” toys to take outside. Animal-shaped bath squirters, Little People figurines, toy soldiers, and durable cars and trucks work great to interact with the icy city surroundings. Then, just sit back and watch your children bring the snow city to life. Before you know it, you’ve spent an entire afternoon outside, and everyone is ready for some hot cocoa and a nap. Isn’t winter grand?

So, Get Started…

That snow won’t last forever! Before you know it, April will be here to wash away that blanket of white with her spring showers, leaving your backyard equipped for nothing but mud pies. Take advantage of the seemingly endless supply of snow now while it’s here and fresh and fluffy. Transforming your shapeless winter lawn into a magical mountain of creativity might just be your ticket to the positive perspective you’ve been missing this season.

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