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7 Fun Cold Weather Activities Beyond Snowmen

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When the mercury drops, you might be tempted to stay inside, but what's the fun in that? Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures may be hard on your heating bill, but there are plenty of fun things to do outside. Just make sure to dress warmly, beware of walking on slippery ice, and take breaks to warm up inside.  

1. FROZEN BUBBLES

Bubbles are typically a warm weather activity, but they can be just as fun in freezing temperatures. If it's cold enough, you can blow soap bubbles and watch them freeze before they pop! Instructables member pi526 has a recipe for homemade bubble liquid, and tips for getting photographs of those neat creations. Depending on the temperature, you might be able to watch ice crystals form while they freeze. Bubbles that come into contact with a surface will freeze if they don't pop first. They might pop in the process of freezing, which leaves fascinating shapes to study, or they might freeze completely and then break to resemble a broken glass Christmas ornament. Or you might see your bubbles still frozen the next day.

2. BOILING WATER SNOW

The temperature outside has to be pretty cold to make instant snow out of boiling water. If you live where winter temperatures drop way below freezing, you might want to try this. When Yan recorded this video the thermometer read -13°F (-25°C). Bring water to a boil in a pan or coffee cup, and take it outside and throw it in the air. Be sure to throw it away from you, so you don't get burned. When the rapidly-evaporating water vapor hits the cold air, it turns to snow. It has to be hot water, close to its gaseous form, to disperse well. Cooler water will just splash in droplets and then freeze on the ground. See it happen at -40°, as a man in Russia creates a several-stories tall snow cloud.  

3. ICE SWORD

Naturally-formed ice has an unpredictable strength. Pykrete is ice formed by freezing water with a content of 14 percent wood pulp. The wood fibers strengthen the ice and make it much harder to shatter. Pykrete also melts at a much slower rate than ice. It was developed by Geoffrey Pyke, who envisioned ships made of pykrete in World War II. Alan Pan used pykrete to mold a huge ice sword—complete with embedded LEDs. Watch him try some experiments to test its strength above. You, too, can be smashing watermelons in the middle of winter.

4. MAPLE SYRUP TAFFY

Maple syrup taffy is candy made from maple syrup cooled to the consistency of taffy on a bed of freshly fallen snow. You can do this outside, or inside if you work quickly. Here's a recipe, although you might want to use popsicle sticks instead of your fingers—especially if you plan to share it.

5. GLOWING IGLOO

While on winter vacation in Edmonton, Alberta, Daniel Gray and Kathleen Starrie of New Zealand made colored bricks of snow, water, and food dye packed into milk cartons and set them outside to freeze. They used around 500 of the bricks to build this Technicolor igloo. You can see pictures of the process and the finished product in this album.

6. BUILD YOUR OWN SLED

Sledding is a great winter activity, but if you have more kids than sleds, you may have to get creative. In freezing weather, you can make solid items out of fabric with a little water and time. The folks at Minnesota Cold formed a sled out of a towel, and it works just fine. Minnesota Cold has a series of freezing weather activities to try at your own risk.

7. SUPERCOOLED WATER

Water is supercooled when it gets below freezing temperature without turning to solid ice. Pure filtered or distilled water can stay liquid below freezing because it lacks the mineral particles that act as "seeds" for crystallization. That's what happened to this guy when he left bottles in his vehicle overnight. But when you bump the bottle good enough, it causes air bubbles to seed the ice crystals, which immediately spread throughout the container. If it's cold enough, you can watch an entire bottle freeze up in seconds! Get a closer look at the crystallization here. You can do this experiment indoors, too.

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Hamilton Broadway
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Food
A Hamilton-Themed Cookbook is Coming
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Hamilton Broadway

Fans of Broadway hit Hamilton will soon be able to dine like the Founding Fathers: As Eater reports, a new Alexander Hamilton-inspired cookbook is slated for release in fall 2017.

Cover art for Laura Kumin's forthcoming cookbook
Amazon

Called The Hamilton Cookbook: Cooking, Eating, and Entertaining in Hamilton’s World, the recipe collection by author Laura Kumin “takes you into Hamilton’s home and to his table, with historical information, recipes, and tips on how you can prepare food and serve the food that our founding fathers enjoyed in their day,” according to the Amazon description. It also recounts Hamilton’s favorite dishes, how he enjoyed them, and which ingredients were used.

Recipes included are cauliflower florets two ways, fried sausages and apples, gingerbread cake, and apple pie. (Cue the "young, scrappy, and hungry" references.) The cookbook’s official release is on November 21—but until then, you can stave off your appetite for all things Hamilton-related by downloading the musical’s new app.

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fun
Never Buy Drawing Paper Again With This Endlessly Reusable Art Notebook
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Art supplies can get pricey when you’re letting your kid’s creativity run wild. But with an endlessly reusable notebook, you never have to worry about running out of paper during that after-school coloring session.

The creators of the erasable Rocketbook Wave have come out with a new version of their signature product meant especially for color drawings. The connected Rocketbook Color notebook allows you to send images drawn on its pages to Google Drive or other cloud services with your phone, then erase the pages by sticking the whole notebook in the microwave. You get a digital copy of your work (one that, with more vibrant colors, might look even better than the original) and get to go on drawing almost immediately after you fill the book.

An animated view of a notebook’s pages changing between different drawings.

There’s no special equipment involved beyond the notebook itself. The Rocketbook Color works with Crayola and other brands’ washable crayons and colored pencils, plus dry-erase markers. The pages are designed to be smudge-proof, so turning the page won’t ruin the art on the other side even if you are using dry-erase markers.

Rocketbook’s marketing is aimed at kids, but adults like to save paper, too. Break away from the adult coloring books and go free-form. If it doesn’t quite work out, you can just erase it forever.

The notebooks are $20 each on Kickstarter.

All images courtesy Rocketbook

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