A magical winter wonderland awaits kids of all ages

Posted: Thursday, November 29, 2001

KENAI (AP) -- Many people can't fathom why people remain in Alaska during the winter months. Some folks see the season as a lifeless, dreary and depressing time of year. Yet there are so many things to discover and explore.

Everyone knows about the art of building a snowman. Some people have it down to an engineering feat that would impress the Egyptians. But there are plenty of ways to spice up the ordinary snowman.

You can, for example, add some creativity with an ice sculpture. Start by cutting the tops off some old plastic containers and filling them with water. Leave the containers outside. When they freeze, you can become the Michelangelo or Leonardo da Vinci of the North, with an ice castle in your own yard.

With the abundance of snow, why not make some delicious snow ice cream? Collect 4-5 cups of clean snow in a bowl and place in the freezer. Mix a cup of milk, half of a teaspoon of vanilla, and half a cup of sugar. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Then slowly add the snow and continually stir until it is as thick as ice cream. Enjoy!

You can also study the unique beauty of snowflakes. I put a piece of black construction paper in the freezer, and when the flurries begin, I make a dash outside and collect snowflakes on the paper. With a magnifying glass I can see the fine detail that explains the saying, ''No two snowflakes are the same.''

So when children complain that they're bored, take them outside and show them the exciting world that surrounds us in winter. For kids of all ages, the possibilities of discovery are endless if we dress warmly and enjoy the magical winter wonderland.

Nicole Johnson is the environmental education coordinator at the Kenai ational Wildlife Refuge.

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