Everybody builds snowmen. Some parents get creative and build igloos or snow forts. But if you really want to build a structure in the snow that will not only entertain but also exhaust kids, go with a giant slide. It’s much easier to make than you’d think, kids can help, and once it’s built, sledding no longer becomes an everybody-pile-in-the-car winter event ⏤ since they can barrel down the slide any time they want. And the best part, there are no lines or giant hills to climb.
Prep Time: An hour or so to build the slide. Once built, just the 5 minutes or so it takes to get the kids in full snow gear every time you want to use it.
Entertainment Time: An hour, or until they want to come in for hot chocolate.
Energy Expended by Child: Loads of physical energy.
What You Need:
- Adult- and kid-sized shovels.
- A ton of snow, obviously.
- Sleds. The lighter the better.
How to Play:
Obviously, the basic concept here is simple: Pile up snow in the middle of your yard and shape it into a slide. The larger the space, the bigger the chute. Our front yard isn’t huge, but we were still able to manage an 8-feet-long ride without issue. Start by piling the snow as high as you can. Mom or dad should do the bulk of the heavy shoveling, especially when the mound gets higher, but since part of the point is for kids to burn off some energy, don’t hesitate (assuming they’re big enough) to put them to work. You may need to remind them that crazy sliding adventures await.
After the main snow tower stands at least five-feet high, level off the top and begin shoveling snow down one side into a descending slope for the chute. The wider the slide the better in terms of safety and unless you want kids hurling off into the bushes, you should build up the edges as guard rails. To pack the snow, drag a smooth shovel down the middle of the slide, or load a sled with some snow to add weight and pull it down repeatedly. If want more of a bobsled track to get into the Olympic spirit, you can fill a round trash can with snow and pull it through several times to provide the curved shape. Once you get a decent slide, though, use a live subject to see if there are any dips or bumps to fix. Don’t worry, they won’t go fast at first because the snow is still loose but after a few attempt and some fine-tuning, they should zip right down.
From there, you can either cut snow stairs into the tower so the kids can climb to the top themselves or, if they’re younger, you can simply lift them up for each sledding run. Think of that option as an upper-body workout. Either way, before calling it a day, lightly spray some water on the slide so it hardens overnight. In fact, you can water the slide daily for added speed but be careful ⏤ too much ice can send your kids flying into the neighbors’ yard.
With all the shoveling, shaping, and lifting, it’s hard to call building a snow slide an ‘easy’ way to exhaust kids ⏤ but it’s incredibly effective. And by the time they’re done shoveling, climbing, sliding, and playing a little bit of king of the mountain, they’ll need to be peeled out of their snowsuits. Once that bad boy is built, however, you’ve just bought days if not weeks (as long as it stays below freezing) of solid outdoor winter entertainment right in the yard. Just be sure to keep an eye out for soaked gloves or wet boots, because they’ll be having too much fun to notice.