Rich looked at me as school closing after school closing was announced and asked, “can’t Murphy have a Snow Day tomorrow, too?” I laughed, but then I thought better of it. For the first two years of homeschooling, we’ve been a pretty rigid school-at-home family. Work books, curriculum, worksheets, etc. And I have one pretty bored kid. I KNOW he learns better when he’s playing. I KNOW his attention span increases when it’s hands on, and yet, I’ve had such a problem allowing him to learn like the kid he is. And so, I’ve spent more time boring him than enjoying this amazing time we have together.
I’ve needed some excuse to let go a little, and a snow day was the perfect excuse. In fact, I’ve decided to start blogging about what we do to hold me accountable to him having a more enjoyable education. At the end of the day, if I only have a photo of him sitting a desk with worksheets or his curricula, that’s a failure on my part. Not that I intend to completely abandon the work we’ve been doing, but I want more fun in our lives, as well. So, Polar Vortex seemed a perfect time to explore some of the snow-related activities I’ve seen floating around.
Hot Water to Snow
Frozen Yogurt in a Bag
A Box Maze, which has nothing to do with snow, but we had a bunch of boxes leftover from Christmas, and I needed to do SOMETHING with them before I broke them down
Hot Water to Snow
Instructions: Heat water to boiling, pour into a mug, toss mug away from your face in extremely cold weather.
Murphy’s hypothesis: “It’ll melt the snow.”
Take 1: Rich had just made coffee, so we used some of the hot water. By the time we geared up and headed out, it cooled significantly, and we toss a cup of water on the steps.
Take 2: We were ready to go before the water boiled and took it on the porch to toss, and it was way cooler than any of us had expected – a cup of snow came flying from Murphy’s hands. Rich immediately suggested filling a heavy-duty water gun and trying that (as to not melt it). A friend suggested colored water, so we boiled up some purple water, loaded it into the gun and had a blast fighting snow monsters with snow. We probably should’ve tried a third time with significantly darker colored water, but it was -2F, so we wanted to get to the bubbles and get back inside.
Why does it work? Because hot water’s viscosity (the measure of a fluid’s resistance to flow – example, honey is much higher than water) is significantly lower than cool water, it breaks into tiny droplets with higher surface area when tossed in the air and higher surface area = faster freezing.
Instructions: Blow bubbles when it’s cold out.
Murphy’s hypothesis: “I think we should try hot bubbles so they freeze faster.”
Take 1: Oops! It’s Polar Vortex! It was waaaay too windy and the bubbles were blown away almost instantaneously. This experiment gets put on the back burner.
Frozen Yogurt in a Bag
Instructions: Put yogurt (or 1/2 c. milk, 1 TB sugar, 1/4 t. vanilla for ice cream) in a quart zip-top bag. Try to get as much air out as possible and seal it. Fill gallon zip-top bag with snow (or ice) and 6 TB salt. Nestle the quart bag inside the gallon bag and seal. Shake it up for a few minutes (we used a towel to protect our hands).
Murphy’s hypothesis: “I think it’s going to be delicious!”
Why does it work? While water’s freezing temperature is 32F, other liquids vary. The addition of fats and sugars and anything else will also modify the freezing point. Since we need to freeze something colder than ice can get, we add salt to the snow to lower the snow’s freezing point (called freezing point depression). When the snow gets colder than 32, it can freeze yogurt or ice cream.
Story Time with Big Brother
We took a break from science for a snowy tale for Dexter. I try to have Murphy read to Dexter as often as possible, both for brother bonding time that doesn’t involve weaponry, and because much of what I ask Murphy to read is above grade level, and I think it’s probably nice for him to have some easier reading to do.
A Box Maze
Instructions: take a bunch of leftover boxes, cut and tape into an epic living room maze of awesome. We had about eight boxes in two rows of four with a door entrance, and the opening exit. Some of spaces between boxes were half openings, mostly for stability, partially for fun. This was a time commitment to build (mostly because curiosity prevented the boys from staying off it as I built), but they all loved it and had some solid play time inside.
We initially had this awesome pirate ship (thanks, Aunt Meg!) as the exit for the maze, but somehow the littles ended up sitting in it on the couch. Ah well