National Louis University Professor Shares “Frozen Fun” Activities for Adults to Explore with Kids during Winter Break

Schools have dismissed kids for Winter Break, and after the excitement wears off, adults will probably hear the dreaded phrase, “I’m bored!” A National Louis University expert has recommended some really, REALLY cool activities to engage kids in cold-weather fun. As they are freezing bubbles, making snow, eating nature’s candy or deciphering the cookie mystery, they might even learn a little science.

National Louis University’s Vito Dipinto, Ed.D., associate professor with the National College of Education, was an organic chemist before becoming an educator. Now he prepares college students studying to become science teachers, and often visits local elementary schools, dazzling students with entertaining science experiments.

“Wintertime offers many opportunities for kids to have fun exploring the world of science,” said Dipinto. “These activities also provide an alternative to video games and television.”

Dipinto suggested the following activities for parents and caregivers to share with kids during the cold-weather months.

Frozen Bubble Magic:

Materials needed: Dawn dishwashing detergent (no substitutes), water, bubble wand, a day that is 15 degrees (or less) outside and has a slight wind

  • Combine one part original Dawn dishwashing detergent and three parts water. Mix gently to create bubble mixture.
  • Use a bubble wand to blow bubbles into the air and watch them freeze.
  • Let the bubble touch the child’s nose and listen for a “pling” when it breaks.

Make Your Own Snow:

Materials needed: pot to boil water, travel mug, outside temperature of around -30 degrees F (-34 degrees C)

  • With careful adult supervision, heat water to boiling (212 degrees F) and pour it into a safe container, such as a travel mug.
  • Carefully pour the water from a balcony or, if standing on the ground, toss it up in the air, taking care it doesn’t fall on anyone.
  • Watch as the water turns into snow as it falls to the ground.

3. Volcano in the Snow:

Materials needed: 2 spoonfuls baking soda, 1 spoonful liquid soap, red food coloring, 30 ml vinegar, water bottle, snow

  • Add all ingredients, except the vinegar, to a water bottle.
  • Place the water bottle in a mound of snow and cover the bottle with snow in order for it to look like a volcano, leaving the mouth of the bottle open.
  • Add the vinegar and watch the eruption!

4. Maple syrup candy:

Materials needed: pure maple syrup and candy thermometer OR ½ cup packed brown sugar and 2 tablespoons butter, fresh snow

  • If using Maple Syrup: Bring the syrup to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until a candy thermometer reads 235 F (112 C).
  • If using sugar and butter: Prepare sugar and butter mixture by heating butter and sugar together, stirring well.
  • Locate some freshly-fallen, clean snow and pour either the maple syrup or butter-sugar mixture onto it. Wait 3 to 5 seconds for it to cool and it will harden like maple taffy. Roll it up and enjoy.

5. Snowflake Fossils:

Materials needed: glass laboratory slides with cover slips, Krylon spray adhesive (available at art supply stores) OR super glue (the thin kind, not the gel), dark cloth or cardboard, and tiny paintbrush, outdoor temperature of 23 F or below

  • Cool the glass laboratory slides and their cover slips outdoors (sheltered from the snow) and allow them to reach the temperature outdoors.
  • Use a dark cloth or cardboard to “catch” snowflakes, and when you see a pretty one, use a tiny artist’s paintbrush to transfer it to a glass slide. Cover it with the spray fixative or a generous drop of superglue.
  • Allow it to dry outdoors in the cold, protected from snow, for up to a week.
  • Once it’s dry, you can bring your fossil inside; it will last indefinitely. You can photograph it and share with friends.

Six more activities can be found at http://www.nl.edu/frozenfun

About National Louis University

Founded in 1886, National Louis is a nonprofit, non-denominational University offering bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in fields of education, management, human services, counseling, public policy, and others concerned with human and community development. From its inception, National Louis has provided educational access to adult, immigrant and minority populations – a mission it sustains today. National Louis is well-known for an exceptional history in teacher preparation, and continues to be a leader in educating future teachers and community leaders to succeed in urban environments. For more information, visit http://www.nl.edu.

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