Create your own activity trail

With the polar vortex bringing record-breaking windchills to the Midwest last week, a lot of families with young ones were stuck indoors.

I heard from one mom that her family didn't go anywhere for five days. I got a video from my sister-in-law of her three daughters running in circles around the house.

Kids have tons of toys, and games and crafts help ease boredom, but sometimes kids need to just be active to burn off energy.

That's when creating your own activity trail can be helpful.

For the space-themed kids play area in the lower level of the nature center, we created our own activity trail. You can see naturalist Ashley Hansen testing it out on this video.

Our trail is painted, but it all started off with print-outs from the computer that we traced, so you can do that at home. Incorporate numbers, letters and arrows to follow and the kids will be able to use up some energy while staying on a designated path.

If you want to create a path like ours, print off five sets of footprints labeled 10, 9, 8, 7, 6 and tape them to the ground in different directions so that kids have to jump from one to the other. Then print out stars labeled 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and tape those down in a line. Print out the words "Blast off" to jump off of and then you could even put down a picture of the moon to jump on --- our moon is a trampoline, so if you have a mini trampoline, this is the perfect place for it.

Next, put down a curly string to follow like a galaxy, and then put out pawprints labeled with letters of the alphabet to follow.

Your activity trail can be anything. Maybe you create a trail with electrical tape and add some chairs to climb over or duck under. Maybe you string yarn between chairs to create an obstacle course to crawl through. Maybe you make a hopscotch grid on a tile floor.

Let your imagination run wild, and then let the kids run wild! Your activity trail is sure to be a hit and a day inside that sticks in their memories.

Here's some other snow day activities:
Make colored ice balls
Snow dough
Craft stick snowflakes

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