Winter Carnival finds its roots in Mardi Gras, a Christian day of feasting before the somber season of Lent. Over time this single day of celebration has stretched into days and in some places weeks. In northern climates, Mardi Gras has evolved into Winter Carnival, a fun way for people to celebrate winter together. As a French-Canadian I have fond memories of celebrating Winter Carnival (Carnival d’hiver) at my school and with family. Drawing from my childhood experiences here are seven fun activities for celebrating winter carnival with your kids, family, friends and community.
1. Make Snow Sculptures.
Anyone, even kids, can make snow sculptures. A snow man is a snow sculpture and so is a snow fort. Snow sculptures can be big or small. You can make them out of sticky snow or dry snow. Dry snow works great for snow molds. After a big snowfall host your very own snow sculpture making party!
- Make these amazing crazy-carpet snow sculptures!
- Paint your snow sculptures using Kool Aid, food colouring or paint.
- Set up an outdoor snow kitchen.
- Use sand toys to make snow castles.
- Create a snow volcano.
2. Play Winter Carnival Dress-Up Outside.
As part of Winter Carnival tradition, a Queen and a King of the Snow are nominated. Nominate your own children as Queens and Kings of the Snow! Dress them in crowns and capes and send them outside for adventures in their magical winter kingdom.
- Create a crown out of felt, pie plate, lace, cardboard, sticks or evergreens.
- Make a cape and magic wand.
3. Eat Maple Taffy on Snow.
Eating maple taffy on snow is a quintessential Winter Carnival activity. You might be surprised to know that maple taffy is very easy to make. You only need four things: clean snow, maple syrup, a thermometer and sticks (Popsicle sticks work well). Make this taffy once and your children love forever… or at least until the last lick.
4. Read Picture Books About Winter.
Winter is all about enjoying some read aloud time snuggled under warm blankets. Below is a list of our favourite books about winter.
- Bear’s Winter Party by Deborah Hodge
- Blizzard by John Rocco
- Little Daughter of the Snow by Arthur Ransome
- Malaika’s Winter Carnival by
- Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
- Singing Away the Dark by Caroline Woodward
- Snow by Cynthia Rylant
- Snowflakes Fall by Patrica MacLachlan
- Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin
- The Branch by Mireille Messier
- The Snow Princess by Ruth Sanderson
- The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
- The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino
- Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett
5. Create Ice Art.
Making art with ice is magical. Add a little sparkle and shine to your life and try one of the fun ice art ideas with your child.
- Snow jewels
- Frozen bubbles.
- Make an ice luminaries.
- Ice garland.
- Ice birdseed ice ornament.
- Ice sun catcher.
- Colourful icicles.
6. Learn How To Saw a Log.
A Winter Carnival is not complete without a log sawing competition. In this competition adults and kids race to see how fast they can saw through a piece of log. Should parents let kids use hand saws? Absolutely! Kids love learning how to use real tools like saws, hammers, screw-drivers and whittling knives. Take the time to teach your child how to use these tools properly and safely, especially whittling knives, which are very sharp. Save the big power tools until they’re older.
- Set up a log or thick stick for your child to saw.
- Make an outdoor wood working station with real tools, nails, screws and wood.
7. Take a Snow Bath.
The snow bath is another crazy-fun Winter Carnival activity. For this event dress in bathing suits, hats, toques and boots and go for a romp in the snow. Some people like to dump a bucket of water over their heads to add to the fun. If it’s cold make it quick and warm up inside. Or better yet, warm up in a hot tub!
- Go for a romp in the snow in your bathing suit.
- Play with a small bucket snow during bath time.
- Make a snow sensory bin using real snow!
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