Libraries in Kenai and Soldotna offer story time for children, as well as large selections of books for young people.
Clarion file photo
The days are dark, the wind's blowing and the thrill of watching the snow fall wore off days ago.
So, now what are you going to do with your cooped up kids?
Not to worry, there are plenty of cheap, educational and just plain fun indoor activities to keep children busy and entertained during the long winter months.
Explore the arts
A set of crayons or watercolors, paired with a few sheets of blank paper, can go a long way, keeping kids occupied and imaginative for a while. When the kids start whining for mom to "tell me what to draw I can't do anything," parents might want to try a theme.
There's no shortage of holidays to provide fodder for the arts-and-crafts guru. Use paper, crayons and scissors to make pumpkins and bats for Halloween. Cutout body parts fastened together with beads (found in the school and office section of almost any store) can create moving scarecrows, while families willing to put up with a bit of a mess can create life-size scarecrows out of old clothes and wadded up newspapers. (Hay also can stuff the Wizard of Oz characters, but it does a number on living room carpets.)
Everyone knows how to trace a child's hand to create a paper Thanksgiving turkey, and snowflakes and Christmas trees are a good standby for Christmas time decorations. Children also may enjoy making their own Christmas tree decorations (paper rings or glitter-laden cardboard cutouts are simple) or Christmas gifts.
Help your younger children learn about the months and days be creating a calendar for the coming year: Family photos for each month make great gifts for Grandma and Grandpa. Type "winter activities" in-to an Internet search engine and find countless more simple and fun art projects for all ages.
Left to their own devices, many children will naturally play "house" or create their own fantasy worlds. Parents can help encourage children's imaginations by bringing the fantasy worlds to life. Use blankets, pillows, tables and chairs to create living room forts.
Encourage kids to write out their imaginings in stories or to develop picture books.
Play along. Such games also can help parents teach their children about the difference between imagination and reality.
Winter is a great time to brush up on kids' reading skills and to delve into the books that may be too long to hold a child's attention during the summer. There are plenty of popular new children's books on the market, not to mention piles of classics available at area libraries.
Also, families looking to get out of the house for a while may enjoy story times offered regularly at both the Kenai and Soldotna libraries. The Kenai Community Library offers a toddler story time at 11 a.m. each Wednesday, as well as a preschool story time at 10:30 a.m. Thursdays. At the Soldotna Public Library, story time is from 10:30 to 11 a.m. every Wednesday.
Take a class
Families who are willing to pay a little money may enjoy a plethora of classes and activities offered by area organizations. There always are private music and dance lessons, offered by a number of businesses in the area. The Boys and Girls Clubs and After the Bell programs offer a mix of tutoring and enrichment programs. Soldotna Community Schools also offers classes throughout the winter for all ages for varying fees, and older students and adults can enjoy a little lifelong learning at Kenai Peninsula College. The North Peninsula Recreation Service Area, as well as the Boys and Girls Club, also offer some winter sports programs to keep kids busy and active during the cold months.
Terrie Dunn exercises her sled dogs Vince, left, and Jewell, right, last winter on a trail in Kenai. Recreational mushing is one of many activities winter allows.
Photo by M. Scott Moon
Sure, indoor activities are important for stormy days and nights. However, there's no reason to spend all winter hiding in the house. Snowmachining, skiing, snowshoeing and mushing are just a few of the many winter sports that thrive on the Kenai Peninsula. Try one out, or just go for a walk. Lay down and make a snow angel or go ahead and let your kids pelt you with the occasional snowball.
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