The Fun and Learning of Snow Days …..
The last week has brought an unusual amount of snow to the Willamette Valley and in particular Corvallis – 9 inches. The town is not well prepared for this amount of snow coupled with extended below freezing temperatures. This means that the snow stayed around till today on roads, sidewalks, parking lots, and well everywhere. Coming from back east this seems a bit unreal that 9 inches of snow has kept schools and businesses closed for 5-7 days. However for a free choice learner, a studier of human nature and a parent these past 7 days have been a blast to part take in and observe. (The truly only difficult thing was trying to readjust and balance my own personal & work schedule with the increased time the children and husband have been around the house.)
Now for my observations in learning from the snow days …
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow – snow predictions where do we find them – Thursday night the house was full of looking up weather predictions, one was not enough, so multiple ones were reviewed. Which site or news show was correct? Who was using the same data? Where were they collecting the readings or data from? All of these questions were flying in the house. Now let’s talk about the social network postings – the questions about whether or not “we” as the collective Willamette Valley would “get” the predictions were flying about. Some were based on data some on past experiences, some on hope for or against the arrival of the snow. The grocery store – I had this person form California come up to me completely upset as my son and I were gathering some special “snow food” to go along with some of our family traditions – he was distort. He had never been in snow and picked living here due to lack of snow. He owned a bicycle and was concerned about how he would get around town if it did snow. He stood there for over 5 minutes, following me around the store trying to convince me that I should not be excited about this and that others are upset. It was rather interesting. I asked him if he had read the weather reports and he said no, he was not going to and was hoping for the snow to not come. Again it is how we each handle things differently. Very interesting. Evening came, bedtime came, how many of you after all the data gathering still slept with your PJ’s on inside out in hopes for the snow to arrive? At least three in our house did. Is this a culture things or just our family tradition?
Snow Fun – The snow arrived and the excitement arrived. Snowman building. There are multiple methods for snowman building. So many methods that some even get upset if you do not follow the methods that they are used to using. For example do you push the snow into a pile or gather in a bucket and place in a different spot? This is a slight difference, but I have learned an important one as the pushed snow can have leave litter making the snowman “dirty” looking. Also do you add a little water to ice over the snowman to make it last longer or let it be? Again another important point. Do you use sticks, stones and moss for finishing off the snowman or do you use buttons, carrots and real clothes? Again these conversations were extremely interesting to listen to – the reasoning and negotiations involved in making the final decisions were at boardroom level from 9-12 year olds. Then after all of these conversations came the conversations of getting the needed materials from the adults and then the conversations with them. It was great to be an observer on these as I had my younger one and was not in charge of these … love it. Social Media postings of pictures of the various snowmen have been great!
Sledding – oh the joy of physics! We live in a hilly area, so there was a large amount of places that sledding could take place. Well different people have different tolerance for difference speeds and sometimes this is learned in a situation like sledding. Transfer of skills from skiing like stopping, proper falling and rolling also took place. Fortunately no one got hurt, but many learned a lot about what they could, could not do and liked and did not like. Again the postings on the social networking sites have been a blast to follow.
Inside fun – the chemistry of baking cookies … the science of washing dishes … the fun of making ice cream by using the freezing temperatures outside … the fun of frozen things on your porch that don’t normally freeze and realizing that there is actually water in that thing …. Your neighbors burst pipes or frozen water pipes so you are helping carry water jugs over … games you never get to play as you are running everywhere to carry out your normally scheduled life. These postings have been the best. The photos of the various baked goods alone have made me gain weight. The postings of people sharing rides with the 4WD is also something that was a nice thing to see unfold. The community seemed to come to each other’s needs.
Inside Cabin Fever – the realization the some sort of regular schedule is a good thing. This was very clear on the social media sites. Cabin fever was mentioned as early as Monday with only being in from Friday through the weekend. By Thursday with the prediction of the freezing rain, the posts were beyond hopeful that this did not happen as they were more than ready for a regular routine to return. I have to admit that for myself I felt it by Thursday, but not really before. This may be because we have a 4WD vehicle and I was able to get out some or having a child with a choric illness does not allow me to have a completely set schedule so I live without a set routine. I have had to come to terms with this over the last few years. The children expressed it in a different way – I saw it in an increased inside volume of noise. The normally quite children from the neighborhood, along with my own were so load that I could hear them all the way at my mailbox when they were in the house. This has never happened before. Again a different way of expressing their cabin fever or change in routine.
All in all the last seven days of snow covered Willamette Valley have brought many different opportunities for fun and learning that have occurred outside of the normal routine. Some have been really cool and others for some (like bursting pipes) are hopefully a onetime life lesson. I feel really lucky that during this time I had the opportunity to sit back and do some participant observations in the make shift learning lab of the snow covered town of Corvallis.

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