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Wisconsin Parent

Tis' the Season to Build a Snow Fort

Dec 08, 2013 02:57PM ● By Brooke McGee

Dug-Out Dome

With Christmas around the corner, many have long lists on their mind, presents, stuff that break, things sometimes unused. Winter has changed over the years, the meaning anyways. As commercialism and TV creeps in more and more, other meaningful things fade into the shadows. One special element though can never be removed, and that is memories. If you examine some of your own special memories, I can bet family dominates your favorites. The ones that stick out to me- snow fights, snow forts and hot chocolate with my brother, sister and parents.

Sometimes we got competitive- who can build the best? Whose is more creative? And then, of course, there was the teamwork. Those were the ones that turned out the best. That is of course, depending on your version of “the best.” If it was a snow ball fight, well, the tallest, strongest wall usually won. (Provided you were a good shot.) Since I’m speaking of these memories, let me share my favorites.

The dug-out dome- You know, where you all make the biggest pile possible, pack it in and then you carefully tunnel in. My dad always helped out a lot, using a snow shovel and making it faster than we ever could. Our contribution? Lay on it to help compress the snow.

The snowball wall- This is such a blast because the only way you can use the wall is if you and others are outside together. Parents are great at these ones because not only do they help building, but they can also make sure that snow balls aren’t packed too tight so that anyone gets hurt. That wouldn’t be fun for anyone, would it? I loved making it in a circle- protection from all direction. (Except the top!)

Snowball Wall

The “Ultimate”- This one takes teamwork! I was lucky because I lived out in the country. We were able to use everything from sticks and trees right down to plastic buckets or coolers for snow block molds. Regardless of your location, creativity, teamwork and snow are all you need to make the grandest fort you can think of!

Snow fort

Playing outside in the snow is a thrilling gift, something only us “Wisconsin kind” can truly understand. But fun and thrills aside, there are realities adults know children may not always think of. It’s very important that they are taught how to enjoy the cold weather safely.

  • School-aged children playing outside alone are injured (or worse) more than any other group. Suffocation from collapsed forts and snowplow injuries top the list. NEVER allow a child to make a fort of any kind near a road or from the snow piles that plows push to the side of a road.
  • Teach your children why it’s important to dress in layers while playing outside. Also remind them damp or wet clothing should be replaced. Did you know the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says frostbite can occur within minutes to exposed skin if the temperature is below 20 F and the wind is 20 mpg or more? Usually, it’s the hands, feet and nose you have to watch out for. According to, never rub frostbitten areas. Frostnip is a real thing too, so don’t wait too long in between those hot cocoa breaks! (Read more on this topic here.)

Brooke McKeeToday’s guest post is brought to us by Brooke McGee. In addition to her talents as a freelance writer, Brooke is an equally gifted artist. She lives in Portage, Wisconsin and enjoys building all varieties of snow forts with her own two kids.