The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Make snow ice cream

Swannack took this recipe off Paula Deen’s website ( and says it’s “ridiculously easy.” Her kids love it. It takes about 10 minutes to prepare.
8 cups of snow or shaved ice
1 14 oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Place snow or shaved ice into a large bowl. Pour condensed milk over it and add vanilla. Mix to combine and serve immediately in bowls. 

Snow fun
Backyard winter activities for the kids

By Kelly Sennott

What to do when your skis are broken, the ice is bumpy, your sledding hill is crowded and you’re not in the mood for a long walk through the woods?

Use some imagination, creativity and a few tricks to make your backyard a winter haven. New Hampshire Audubon and Girl Scout reps and a mommy blogger provided a few ideas during phone and email interviews last week.
Add spice to your snowman
Think of the snow as a blank canvas. When you’re through sculpting your snowman (or better yet, snow horse — Karen Provost, manager of Camp Pathway with the Girl Scouts, prefers these because “at least you can ‘ride’ them”), add some color with snow paint. In a water bottle or spritzer, add a few drops of food coloring or liquid-based watercolor paint (watercolor paint is better for stain resistance).
If you want your artwork to double as a tasty treat for outdoor wildlife, Dawn Genes and Angie Krysiak of the Audubon recommend making your snowman’s (or snow sculpture’s) attire also work as an animal feeder.
“If you’re going to go out and build sculptures, do it with edible stuff. Cranberries, raisins, nuts and other food objects,” Krysiak said during a phone interview.
Added Genes, “It’s a good time of year to feed the birds. It’s also the most critical — a lot of birds have to eat their weight in food every day to keep warm.”
Adapt it to winter
Most games you can still play in the winter; you just need to adapt them to cold, ice and snow. 
One of Provost’s favorite games — in the summer and winter months — is shaving cream wiffle ball. Fill up the wiffle ball with shaving cream, and play how you normally would.
Though they won’t be conducting one this year, New Hampshire Audubon has held snowshoe frisbee golf tournaments in the Massabesic trails in past years. You just need a frisbee, maybe some boots/snowshoes and a few trees/markers. Each try you have at hitting the marker is a “swing.” The lower the score, the better.
How to set it up?
“It depends on how involved you want to get,” Krysiak said. “You could get on your back deck and throw the frisbee at a tree, if that’s what you want to do. If you want something more permanent, you can mark up a tree or set up a course.”
Make it a maze
When there was enough snow, Provost and her kids used to build mazes through the powder.
“Depending on how deep the snow is, you can just use your feet to flatten the pathway. I’ve also used a shovel and snow blower to create the path,” Provost said in the email. “Kids have fun just running through the maze. It’s also fun to dribble a soccer ball through.”
Snow glow
Nicole Swannack, who blogs at, is a Windham mom of four kids and likes having fun activities planned for whenever they venture into the cold.
One activity she talked about during a phone interview last week is utilizing glow sticks during winter storms. 
“We get glow sticks from the Dollar Store, which are cheap. We break them, and just before the snow falls, or as the snow is lightly falling, we put the glow sticks down [on the ground] in a pattern,” Swannack said. “You don’t have to get too intricate. As the snow falls, you can see it glow up through the snow. … Once the snow’s done falling, we make a point to find the ‘glow stick treasure.’”
Dinosaur egg hunt
Another idea, which caters  to both girls and boys, is to create fairy/dinosaur/animal eggs. Fill water balloons with water, food dye and, if desired, tiny treasures. (Small toys, trinkets, glittery items, etc.)
Stick the water balloons outside on a freezing day, and pop when frozen.
“My kids thought they were dinosaur eggs,” Swannack said. “We pretended dinosaurs went out there and laid eggs and [we] made a scavenger hunt around the yard.”
For girls, you can do the same thing, except inside the balloons, stick pretty trinkets and pretend they’re magical snow globes.
Snow is like sand, right?
“One of the simplest things to do is give them [kids] shovels and sand toys,” Swannack said. “I’ve found that entertains them more than anything. They can mold out of the snow with the sand toys. It’s so easy, cheap, and everyone’s already got their sand stuff.”
Snowflake catching
Stick black construction paper in the freezer in anticipation of snow. Swannack usually does this an hour or two before she hands it to the kids and sends them outside to catch snowflakes during a snowstorm. The frozen temperature ensures flakes don’t melt when they hit the paper and that kids can see intricate details up close.
“We’ve done it a bunch of times,” Swannack said. “You catch the snowflakes on the paper, and you can view them with a magnifying glass. … It will keep them busy for a while, as it’s a feat just to catch the snowflakes.”
Snow fort
Krysiak and Genes at the Audubon call it “shelter building,” an activity the Audubon often provides at kids’ camps. It’s something you can do all year long, though you have to adjust after assessing the materials you have at hand. Do this with snow, branches, logs — maybe even your old Christmas tree.
“The first thing I tell kids is to make sure you have a good base so it won’t fall down,” Krysiak said. For example, “You can make a teepee shape by leaning the shelter against a big tree, and then take smaller sticks to fill in the wall branches.”
If you have an old Christmas tree lying around, you can cut branches from underneath and use them to lean against and frame the tree as other wall parts. Use snow as the final layer to pack it all in.
“There are a lot of different ways to make a shelter,” Krysiak said. “One thing that might make the job easier is to provide scissors and twine to tie the stuff together. … But as long as you give a safety parameter, the rest is up to their imagination.”
Pinterest, blogging, Google
For more ideas, turn to the Internet; that’s where Swannack gets all hers.
“I never thought of myself as a creative mom. I’m very resourceful. There are so many blogs out there,” Swannack said. “The community around us has given me so many ideas.”
Finding activities for her kids outside serves everyone well.
“Everyone sleeps better with a little fresh air, and I feel like we’re healthier when we’re outside, too,” Swannack said.
Planned activities ensure time is well spent.
“I like to have a little fun [planned] to keep them out a little longer, because it’s such a big event [with four kids] to get everything on and everyone out,” Swannack said. 
As seen in the January 1, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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