Don’t let storms knock out family fun

When a winter storm wipes out the electricity, the list of family-fun activities shrinks.

Suddenly there’s no electric lighting, let alone television or video games.

“At first it’s awesome, and then it gets really boring,” 11-year-old McLouth resident Jacob Copeland says, recalling last year when a storm knocked out power at his house.

Copeland says he bided the time with board games, such as Monopoly. And the Copeland family went to bed early.

But storms don’t have to knock out all the fun in a household.

Linda Reimond, preschool director at the Lawrence Arts Center, 940 N.H., believes power outages can actually pose an opportunity for family bonding.

“It’s really kind of nice,” Reimond says. “You can’t watch TV. You can’t listen to music. It’s a good time to communicate with each other and play games — old-fashioned board games.”

Reimond offers some tips for creative ways families can make it through those dark days of winter.

• Stay warm. Curl up with a flashlight, blankets and books.

• Build an in-house shelter, fort or cave. Pile blankets over tables and furniture.

• Reimond recommends playing puzzles and board games. If there aren’t any around, families can make up games or play hide-and-seek. Don’t have a checker board? Create one.

“You could make the checkers out of carrots and celery cut into little slices,” Reimond says.

• Become a sculptor. You can create a sculpture by taking newspaper, putting a pencil in it, and rolling it up tight into a tube. Connect the tubes with tape, and you have limitless possibilities for different sizes and shapes. The finished piece is a unique sculpture.

“There’s not a right way or a wrong way with it,” she says. “It’s just how to make it work.”

• Try your hand at food art. All you need are toothpicks or straws, a piece of Styrofoam and food. Use the Styrofoam as the base for the work. Place the toothpicks into the Styrofoam and place bits of food on the toothpicks. Reimond says marshmallows or frozen peas and carrots work well.

• Make music. A shaker instrument is easy, Reimond says. Fill empty water bottles with unpopped popcorn or pasta and presto — it’s time to dance.

• Paint a winter wonderland. In a small dish, combine Epsom salts and water. Have the kids create artwork with crayon on blue or black paper. Paint over the drawing with the Epsom salts mixture. Let dry. The technique creates a winter wonderland, Reimond says.

• Tell a story. Reimond recommends a traveling story in which one person starts the story and the others take turns adding layers to the plot.

• Make snow art. “You can put colored water in spray bottles and go out and paint the snow,” Reimond says. Eye droppers and medicine droppers work, too.