Winter can be one of the most unpredictable seasons in Pennsylvania. Snow, rain, unseasonably cold or warm temperatures can completely rearrange your plans for the season. While you may be tempted to abandon any winter planning, don't. There are still plenty of things to do even during the coldest of the winter days.
Books are always a wonderful option if your child(ren) needs a breaks from the screen. Try reading books aloud as a family, assigning different characters as though it's a play. This is a fun way to fully engage in the story and to practice reading aloud. It's also a good way to hone your family's acting skills. If you and your family are not very good at acting, don't worry. Just have fun delving deeper into the story and spending time together.
If you need book suggestions, go through your children's bookshelves and see what hardcovers, paperbacks, or an e-readers line the shelves. The "Harry Potter" books are a good choice for kids age 11 and up due to the rich fantasy setting and identifiable characters. Aside from trying out British accents, the books give you a chance to have some fun discussions, like sorting family members into Hogwarts houses or challenging one another to create your own houses or wizarding schools. Classics such as "Anne of Green Gables" or "The Chronicles of Narnia" are good choices as well.
For younger kids, you can always help them read aloud from their favorite picture books, or use this as a good opportunity to introduce them to age appropriate chapter books. Some publishers put the approximate age on the cover to help parents choose the best book for their kids, and Amazon allows you to search for books by age group.
For an even more in depth and fun reading, why not add sound effects? You can look up some old radio programs online or even some story-based podcasts for ideas. For example, fill bottles about half full of water and blow across the top for various sounds such as howling wind or a foghorn. The sounds vary with how much water you add and the type of bottle (glass works best). Play around with the water level and type of bottle for the sounds you need.
You can fill an old shoe box or lid with sand or gravel for footsteps. Footsteps can also be created by simply hitting shoes against the floor or any hard surface. You can check YouTube for more ideas for creating sound effects or try these DIY tricks. The site teaches you how to create simple devices for a variety of sound effects like creaking doors or broken glass. The sounds can be created during reading, or you can record the story with the sounds and listen to it later, just like an old time radio show.
Your family can always take the creativity a step further and write your own script. It can be about a family vacation, a grandparent's tale, or an original story created by the family. Not only will you all have a great deal of fun, but the kids will be practicing creativity, writing, verbal skills, and acting.
Reading together as a family creates special memories and encourages a love of reading and hopefully writing. These special story times are fun for the entire family and will help your children to study literature, social studies, and language studies. Reading and performing stories encourages kids to understand, not just memorize, the words.
Gather the family and see what kind of stories can be told and created!