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KIDS WILL WARM UP TO MAKING CASTLES OUT OF ICE, SNOW

SHARE KIDS WILL WARM UP TO MAKING CASTLES OUT OF ICE, SNOW

Queens, kings and their castles fascinate children and adults the world over. A castle is the centerpiece of Disney's imaginary kingdoms. And in the real world, millions of tourists flock to famous castles abroad such as Windsor Castle in England or the picturesque castles of the Loire Valley of France.

Your kids can dream up and create their own glistening winter castle using the basic building blocks of ice and snow.Here's how:

To make the castle bricks, collect two to three dozen half-pint-size empty paper milk cartons. My kids save them from their lunches at school. Fill each clean carton with water (add food coloring if you wish) and place them in the freezer. Should you want to hang flags from your finished castle, place a 10- to 12-inch dowel (Tinkertoy sticks work well) in several water-filled cartons. My son even dropped plastic fish in one carton.

When the blocks are completely frozen, pull off and discard the paper cartons. (Dip the cartons in a sink of warm water for easy removal.) Put mittens on your hands and take the blocks outside. Use a kitchen spatula to spread snow on each block as you would spread mortar on a brick. Pile the blocks on top of each other to create the castle. Hang paper flags or homemade pennants or banners from the dowels.

At nighttime, an adult can light several votive candles and place them on a few blocks or inside the castle for a spectacular shimmering glow. For a light show, shine several flashlights on the castle and play a cassette of dramatic music from your tape recorder.

Note: For an indoor ice castle, use sugar cubes for bricks and frosting for mortar. Build the castle on a piece of cardboard covered with aluminum foil.

Donna Erickson's book, "More Prime Time Activities with Kids," is available in bookstores. If you would like to order by mail, send a check for $12.95 plus $2 shipping and handling (total $14.95) to Donna Erickson, P.O. Box 16188, Minneapolis, MN 55416.