I try to get my kids outside every day, but when the temperature drops, it's not an easy sell. The promise of hot chocolate can only get you so far. Fortunately, Plymouth has plenty going on around town to keep little people busy this time of year. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of the winter weather, even when there's no snow.
1. Take a stroll down Forest Avenue. A short walk can perk up the whole family, even when it's blustery outside. If your child has a letter for Santa, bring it with you and drop it in the mailbox at Genuine Toy Company. While you're there, check out the play corner in the back of the store for a few minutes of indoor entertainment. Then, head towards Boule Artisan Bakery on Ann Arbor Trail. Stop in for a giant cookie to share on the walk back to the car. Remember to take this walk early, though -- the chocolate chip cookies often sell out by noon.
2. Join the Gingerbread Contest Fun. Start at the Plymouth Chamber of Commerce and pick up a list of the nearly 50 gingerbread houses on display at downtown businesses through Dec. 23. Bring a pen so you can map out a route and mark down your favorites. Then, cast your vote at Sun & Snow or the Chamber of Commerce. Each vote enters you to win prizes such as Penn Theatre tickets or your choice of the gingerbread houses.
3. Hunt for winter treasures. Bundle up and venture out to Plymouth Township Park, better known as McClumpha Park, on Ann Arbor Trail for a winter nature walk. Preschoolers love to explore; go see if the creek is frozen or if all the geese have left and bring a bag to collect leaves, rocks and other interesting things you find along the way. Or, keep it simple and take a walk around the neighborhood. Rebecca Szostak, a teacher at Red Bell Preschool, suggests making up your own scavenger hunt to entertain little ones. "Count how many wreaths or Santa faces you see on a walk. You'll be doing something familiar but occupying their minds with something they're not usually doing."
4. Go beyond books at the library. If it's raining or bitter cold outside, head straight for the toasty warm Plymouth District Library and put on a puppet show. Starting Dec. 7, you can also sign up for the Winter Crafts activity on Dec. 21. Youth librarian Dana Bussard says kids love the chance to get creative. "The first time I was here, about seven years ago, the kids came in and used every scrap of what we had to make crafts, even the little bits left over from cutting out snowflakes." This year, participants can decorate blank cards, foam ornaments, gift bags and do scratch-off art. The program is geared towards children ages 5-12. Bussard says the library has hosted some 75 kids for the event in the past so this year, there are two time slots available, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Call 734-453-0750 Ext. 5 for more information.
5. Get crafty at home. For days when it's too ugly to even think about stepping outside, plan ahead. Gather old holiday cards to cut out and a few glue sticks to make collages. You can also buy a plain wreath and let the kids decorate it. Let them choose old ornaments, pinecones, berries or embellishments from a craft store. And, when it's time for a break from the artwork, try a winter-themed snack. Slice a couple of oversized Honeycrisp apples and use mini cookie cutters to cut out tasty little snowmen or gingerbread men. Then, sprinkle with cinnamon. If you're looking for a few new cookie cutters, check out the selection at Isabella's Copper Pot -- they have a wall full of choices.