Playing in the Snow without Skis

What can you do with the kids when the world outside is covered in snow? Go play in it, of course. Bundle everybody up and go outside together in your own yard or to a snow-covered park. Or head to a ski area, where there’s usually a lot more to do than ski.

Build a Snowman

That’s the most popular snow sport for kids — and creative adults who compete annually in world snow sculpture championships. So channel your inner Michelangelo and carve a masterpiece or just help the kids roll big snowballs to stack for a traditional snowman. The snow needs to be a little bit sticky for this — really dry powder just doesn’t hang together enough.

Construct a Snow Fort

You’ll need quite a lot of snow for this one, and again it should be the heavy, sticky kind. If you have snow-block forms you can use those, but little kids will get cold before the fort is more than a foot high. Faster and more fun is the snowman method, rolling a series of big snowballs into a circle. Carve off the round parts and use the chunks of snow to fill in the dents between snowballs to make (somewhat) straight walls.

Cheshire Courthouse 1858

© Stillman Rogers

Capture a Snowflake

Not enough snow for sculpture or building construction? Admire it one flake at a time by catching snowflakes on a piece of well-chilled black velvet or felt. You can photograph them, zooming in as close as you can to catch the details. Photojo makes a good macro that fits on cell phones — or get creative with its cell phone fish-eye lens. The kids will be amazed at how many different snowflake patterns they find.

Track a Moose

Well, maybe not a moose, but can you tell a cat track from a dog’s? Or a squirrel from a rabbit or a deer? Identicards makes an inexpensive set of plastic-coated cards on a ring, showing tracks of 22 different animals common in North America. Each card has some interesting information about the animal, too. You’re likely to find animal tracks wherever there is snow.

Slide Downhill in a Tube

Sledding hills aren’t easy to find, so ski areas come to the rescue with tubing parks. They range from simple places where you walk back up the hill to those with lifts that pull you to the top. Loon Mountain in Lincoln, N.H., has a chairlift for tubers and a separate area for younger children. For 10 tubing lanes with the best view, head to Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, N.H., and for New England’s largest tubing park go to Nashoba Valley in Littleton, Mass. Close to Boston, Nashoba has 18 groomed lanes shaped so each is different, and open in the evenings.

A passenger and a trainer harnees the dogs, Muddy Paw dog sledding, Jefferson NH

© Stillman Rogers

Mush a Dog Team

This is harder to find than a tubing park, but gliding through the snowy woods on a sled behind a team of huskies is a winter experience hard to match. Several winter resorts offer dogsledding to guests, but you can take your kids dogsledding without a resort stay. Kids can meet the dogs and even help hitch them to the sleds at Muddy Paw Sled Dog Kennel in Jefferson, N.H., or at Husky Works Mushing Co. in Wardsboro, Vt.

Great Glen Trails Sno-Coach at the half way point on Mount Washington

© Stillman Rogers

Climb Mt Washington

Okay, you’re not really climbing the highest mountain in the northeast, but you’ll ride inside a specially designed SnowCoach that can navigate the steep (and thrilling) Mt Washington Auto Road on top of the snow and ice. The views are unforgettable and every twig and pine needle is coated in white frost. You’ll ride to the halfway point, at the top of the tree line, where you can get out and savor the sweeping mountain views. It’s a thrill kids won’t forget, and the drivers tell great stories about winter adventures on the mountain that has the world’s worst weather conditions.