Edible Snow Painting

Thu, 11/15/2012 - 11:20pm -- Mel Gibb

Last winter, Eleanor was 6-9 months old. Needless-to-say, she was too little to truly experience winter. We tried to get outside with her often, but the results were her lying in her snowsuit in the middle of our yard “making snow angels.” She didn’t mind the snow, but she certainly was too young to play in it.

This year, Eleanor has decided that winter is not for her. In order to go outside, she has to be covered from head to toe in thick layers of bulky fabric that restrict her movement. When she’s outside, she has to battle walking through the snow, which wouldn’t be such a struggle if she wasn’t waist-deep in it. Where there is no snow, she is challenged by walking on ice. And, she has no desire to deal with the whipping wind and bitter cold we experienced last week. 

And, I don’t blame Eleanor one bit. I don’t like being covered in bulky winter clothes. I hate struggling through snowdrifts, and I’m afraid to slip on the ice and hurt myself. I also dislike the whipping wind and bitter cold. But, I was saddened that she wasn’t enjoying herself on milder days either because winter is a magical time of year. Winter is the season of Christmas, Hanukkah, Ramadan, and Chinese New Year’s (to name a few celebrations). Winter is the Festival of Trees, New Year’s Eve downtown, and Ice on Whyte. It’s skating at Hawrelak Park, the lights at the Legistrative grounds, tobogganing at Gallagher Park, and skiing at Snow Valley. On a personal note, winter was when my husband and I were married. So, when Eleanor decided winter was insufferable, I was determined to change her mind. Because, let’s face it, living in Edmonton, she’s going to be dealing with A LOT of snow in her life!

Here’s a tasty activity that you can do in the snow with your little ones. It’s snow painting that you can eat! Hopefully, you can learn from some of the mistakes we made this weekend.

What you Need:

  • stencils
  • kool-aid packets (or other powdered juice)
  • clean snow
  • squeeze bottles

In order to prepare for our outdoor activity, I needed to create some stencils. I printed some basic winter shapes (e.g., evergreen tree, star, snowflake, and bell) off of my computer and cut the shapes out. I created some as positives images and others as negative images.

Then, I filled two squeeze bottles full of water. In one, I added a packet of Kool-Aid; in the other, I added some powdered Gatorade.

Next, we bundled up and headed outside with our stencils, squeeze bottles, and extra packets of Kool-Aid. We placed the stencils on our deck where I knew the snow was clean and hadn’t been tracked through by rabbits, dogs, or humans. We sprinkled the Kool-Aid over the stencils and snow to create beautiful designs. And, we squirted the squeeze bottles in the snow as another method of painting the snow.

The exciting part of this activity was “supposed” to be getting to eat the flavoured snow. Here’s where you can learn from our mistakes. Kool-Aid without sugar is citric acid! It is SOUR! We knew this when we started, but didn’t know how to keep the rich colour of the Kool-Aid without diluting it with sugar. This is why the Gatorade powder was a better choice. In order to be able to consume any of the flavoured snow, we had to add the liquid Gatorade, which is pre-sweetened. Thank goodness we had some on hand! If trying this activity, use powdered juices that come pre-sweetened.

There are a few other things I would change in the future. The stencils got very damp in the snow, so I would use a heavier paper, such as cardstock or cardboard. Another option would be using cookie cutters as stencils. The squeeze bottles didn’t decorate the snow the way that we expected, so I would try using a spray bottle instead. This being said, we had an enjoyable time outside, which was the point of the activity. Eleanor liked painting the snow, and got a kick out of eating it. Of course, now, she wants to eat snow whenever we’re outside. I’m not sure I want her doing that, but there’s another teachable moment.

If you have any other outdoor winter activities for toddlers, I’d love to hear about them. The weather is supposed to be lovely this weekend, and we’re planning on getting outside as a family. I hope you have a chance to enjoy the snow too. After all, like I said, living in Edmonton, we deal with A LOT of snow!