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'We're still going to have fun": Bitter cold not a problem for nature's classrooms

How a Hobart childcare center is staying safe from dangerous temps
Posted at 7:54 PM, Jan 16, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-16 20:54:25-05
  • Video shows the creative ways a local childcare center is staying safe from dangerously cold temps while still interacting with nature.
  • Health experts say children and, the elderly are at the highest risk for health problems from subzero weather conditions
  • State mandates for outdoor play restrictions for children, and infants.

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Shining Stars Childcare and Education Center emphasizes outdoor learning and on a bitter, cold day Tuesday, the center is bringing the great outdoors inside to stay safe from the dangers of subzero temps.

"Deep breathing, look on the bright side, the kids are having fun and that's all that matters," Ally Smith, a preschool teacher at the center, said. "On a cold day, when you can't go outside, you kind of have to improvise and find more things to do to keep them occupied."

The video shows Smith's class playing in the snow — indoors.

The director at the Childcare's Hobart location, Meagan Rodi, said that's part of being a nature-driven center.

"We often bring in snow or sticks, we talk about hibernation in the wintertime, that's a popular theme," Rodi said. "Whatever we can do to give the kids extra fun when they can't go outside."

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families mandates that childcare centers keep kids two years and older indoors if the wind chill is below zero degrees.

The Department says for children under two there's no outdoor play if the wind chill is 20 degrees or under.

Dr. Kyle McCarty, Emergency Medicine Director for HSHS St. Vincent and St. Mary’s Hospitals in Green Bay, said senior citizens and kids are most at risk in subzero temps.

"So the elderly people, their body's ability to regulate their own temperature is diminished," Dr. McCarty said. "So they will get colder than an average adult much faster. Small children will also drop their temperature faster than adults."

McCarty said major health risks include hypothermia, severe frostbite, and injuries from slipping on ice.
The Aging and Disability Resource Center in Green Bay has a variety of transportation options for people who still want to get around town safely.

Back at the Shining Stars Childcare, Meagan says some kids still want to go outside

"If they open the door and get blasted with cold air, they're like 'nope never mind,'" Rodi said. "We're still going to have fun and that's still what it's about."

Childcare staff said the best part about it all is that no matter where you are, nature follows you around creating lasting memories.