The weather begins to shift this time of year. Cooler breezes during the day, cold nights, rain and snow in some parts of the world tend to bring kids in from the outside. More sedentary activities, usually involving screens, return to homes where parents may have successfully limited their use during warm, activity-inspiring days of summer. But what is a kid to do? May we make a suggestion? Fort building promises year-round play that encourages creativity and imagination. All the components necessary to build these qualities in our kids come together during fort construction. Hands-on learning that involves small and large muscles, and all five senses engaged with and creating in the world in real time, develops these qualities where screens fail.
In this way, fort play results in healthy, strong bodies and minds. So as the snow (or plain old inclement weather) threatens to plop your kids in front of the screen, consider the joys of an igloo fort. Building and playing open up a world learning and inspiration around physical activity. After all, it takes cold and snow like many will never know to build and maintain an igloo.The snow and cold should not keep your family huddled under blankets watching TV. Get the kids building an igloo fort and learn the secrets for staying active in Arctic temperature extremes. Certainly, what your kids discover will inspire play around the fort and beyond. To get started:
— Chart out the regions in which igloo homes are built. Talk about the climate and what causes it to be so cold and seemingly desolate. This information gives kids a context to their play and broadens imagination and creativity.
— How do the areas of Alaska, Greenland, and northern Canada differ? How are they the same? How do these differences influence igloo design? How will they influence your design?
— There are many ways to build an igloo. Pick a design from Fort Magic or let your kids dream one up from Internet images. Use the sticks and connectors of a Fort Magic kit to create a one-of-a-kind igloo. White sheets or milk jugs mimic the look of snowy exteriors.
— Host a picnic in an igloo fort of traditional fare. Meat provides a staple as it keeps the body warm, strong and fit. Hunting and fishing bring whale, cod, and trout (think Goldfish crackers), while caribou, polar bear and seal (perhaps, beef jerky) also show up on Inuit dinner tables. Gathering plants provides berries, grasses, and roots.
— The cold climate fisherman relies on lure and spear rather than rod and reel. Creating a pretend fishing hole near the igloo fort or in a small bucket or pool lets kids “fish” for their meal. A paper or tin foil cover with a hole in it mimics ice fishing and gives a sense of authenticity while practicing jigging.
—Devise hunting games to engage residents of the igloo fort. Let the residents loose (with safety precautions) to enact their own hunting party.
— Competitive sports and games keep the Inuit people strong for hunting while boosting spirits during long spells of darkness. These feats of strength tend to require little space and offer perfect activities inside an igloo fort. Try out kneel jump, back push or Alaskan high kick.
— Turn out the lights to mimic the hours of darkness in the regions where igloos are called home. Flashlights provide a level of safety. Encourage children to imagine ideas for staying safe and playing in these conditions.
— The regions of the icy north offer plenty of adventure, but with it comes danger. An igloo first aid station or hospital proves a natural addition to this imaginative play. Injured hunters, very cold fishermen or adventurous visitors need care, and the imaginations of your children provide it.
— Endangered animals find refuge in vet hospitals as well. Help your children research the animals that live in these regions, including endangered species at risk of extinction.
— Preservation of tradition and culture is important. Use storytelling activities within your igloo fort to honor this value and develop creativity and imagination in your kids.
— Music and the arts offer creative pastimes. Grab a drum and engage in traditional singing to learn of this history and expose children to differing musical styles. Arts, such as soapstone sculptures, ceramics, and tapestries, provide income to residents in the coldest parts of the world. Introduce a kid-friendly version of these crafts to the igloo fort.
One simple igloo fort crafted on a bad-weather afternoon brings hours of creative play to children. Teach them that igloo dwelling does not hail from mystical fairy tales but from real life. Remember that learning takes their play to even greater levels of imagination and fun.
How do you build igloos in the winter? Are you going to use fort building to create an outdoor or indoor igloo for this kids this year? Share your ideas with us below!
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