Surviving Snow Days Without Sibling Squabbles

All day long I’ve been reading about my online friends gearing up for a snow day – or more than one – as a result of the storm that’s expected to slam the East Coast. Supplies at retailers have been wiped out in anticipation of days on end of being housebound. And parents (especially those who work at home) are groaning about how to manage a house full of unexpected noise from their kiddos.

If you, too, are ready to pull your hair out at the thought of entertaining your kids and listening to them squabble, take heart. With just a few items from your kitchen you can keep them occupied, encourage creative thinking, and perhaps even get siblings to work together toward a common goal. My book, Team Challenges: Group Activities to Build Cooperation, Communication, and Creativity, has plenty of easy to implement activities that can be done in ten minutes or less with basic household supplies – a perfect foil to snow day fever.

What?? You don’t have this book in your emergency snow day kit? Not to worry. Let me share an activity with you right here on GeekMom. But first, you need to know this: there is not a “right” answer to this challenge. It’s entirely open-ended. There will be as many solutions as there are kids/teams who attempt to solve the challenge. Cool, right?

team building, siblings, rivalry, Cheerios, teamwork, cabin fever
Simple materials you probably have in your kitchen.

Elevate an Apple

Here’s what you’ll need:

5 drinking straws
10 toothpicks
1 large marshmallow
3 recycled plastic lids
About 2 cups of Cheerios in a bowl*

*may not be altered or used as part of the solution

Read these instructions out loud to your kids:

Your task is to elevate an apple a minimum of two inches above the surface of the table. You may combine the materials provided in any manner to solve this problem. You have seven minutes in which to work. When building time expires, the apple must be in its elevated position and team may not be in contact with any part of the solution. You will be notified when only one minute of building time remains.


You will receive up to ten points each for creativity, cooperation and communication (scoring is entirely at the whim of the person monitoring the challenge). Teams that successfully elevate the apple will also receive twenty bonus points.

Seriously. How’s that for a geeky way to spend a snow day? If you’re curious to see how others have solved this challenge, you can click through to this page of solutions – but don’t let your kids see until they’ve made their attempt! If you need more ideas, there are a dozen more listed here.

The GeekMom blog is captained by Natania Barron, Corrina Lawson, and Jenny Williams, and supported by a brilliant team of writers. Since launching in 2010, we’ve created a robust community of writers, readers, and media geeks, dedicated to the vision of creating a smart, savvy, social online experience for geek parents everywhere.