Escape the Gray

Image credit: (2018), CC0/PD

5 ways to spread sunshine on a gray winter day

By Sheri Wohlfert

The stretch of school days from Christmas break to spring break can get long and dreary. This is especially true here in Michigan, which is the “grayest” state in the U.S. If you find yourself or your students getting stuck in a winter rut, here are five things you can try to bring a little ray of sunshine and joy into the long weeks of winter.

Get a little fancy

Sometimes I get jealous of bears! As winter weeks drag on, there are times I wish I could crawl in a cozy cave and hibernate. As cold winds and gray skies surround us, it’s important to remember that our appearance can connect to our attitude. Twice a month we have Fancy Day and everyone wears a fancy thing. Sometimes it’s a pin from Grandma’s jewelry box or a new pair of socks or nice shoes to slip on when the snow boots come off. These tiny little things create a buzz that serves as a great distraction. When it comes to the spirit, fancy trumps frumpy.

Get cold for a purpose

We have a beautiful Rosary Garden that we enjoy when it’s warm outside. Last year we started enjoying it in the winter too. At least once a week, we make a list of everyone we know and love who is suffering and then we bundle up, take that list in our hearts, and go out into the Rosary Garden to pray a Rosary or Divine Mercy Chaplet. It’s a great lesson for kids to learn how to offer a little suffering like being cold for ten or fifteen minutes for those who suffer greatly.

Share a little sunshine

On a cold and dreary day, take a time out to put on some tropical music, put some ocean views on the Smartboard, and bring out the art supplies. On the darkest of days we have been known to do this activity while wearing sunglasses and Hawaiian leis. The task is all about creating some sunshine in our classroom and then sharing it with others. As the classroom takes on a tropical feel, we choose Scripture that focuses on the joy, hope, and happiness of the Lord, and make cards for parish shut-ins and nursing-home residents.

Eat happy

Nutrition is a key to physical and mental wellness. Winter is the perfect time to do a lesson or bring in a guest who can share information about good nutrition. Last winter we had a smoothie-making clinic right in the classroom, and fruit and vegetable consumption skyrocketed.

Watch something grow

Winter isn’t exactly the time to think about gardening, but it’s a great time to plant something and watch it grow. The green progress is a reminder of the spring to come and a distraction to the gray outside the window.

Sheri Wohlfert is a Catholic wife, mom, speaker, and teacher who writes from Michigan. She uses her sense of humor and her deep faith to help others discover the joy of being a child of God. Sheri also writes at

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