There are few memories of my childhood in winter that I love better than the couple of times I got to successfully build an igloo or snow fort. One time in particular was really great, even though it happened with some kid I did not know and never saw again, who was staying in a hotel next door to where we were staying. What was so great about that snow structure was that it lasted for days! So long, in fact, that I remember bringing food in there to enjoy, like a meal in a new home!
I've attempted a couple of igloos for my kid the past few winters with moderate success and she loved them. Then last winter we went to the mountains. When we got there, there was not much snow, but there was this big white plastic igloo for kids to play in, near a playground. When it snowed a few days later, that igloo was COVERED in snow, but because it was a solid plastic structure, there was no need to waste anytime digging and shoveling, building and struggling: the igloo was perfect just like that. And this gave me an idea. What if, right before you know it's going to snow, you find a large plastic (or wooden) receptacle or container of some kind, just large enough for a little kid to crawl into, make a door or opening in the side, turn it upside down and then, when the snow falls, you'll have an instant igloo!
You can use a very large plastic storage bin, I think, or even an oversized (clean!) plastic trashcan. You can also use a sturdy table and just provide separate covers for two of the sides. You could also build a little structure with whatever you have in your garage. You really just need 2 or 3 walls and a roof, and if the walls are slanted a little you'll need less snowfall to get a great effect. You can also use a large umbrella as a perfect roof and just find a way to anchor it and make some sides. The idea is to use something solid as the structure for the igloo, and then as the snow falls and settles around, all the work is done for you, and you know it will be a solid snow playhouse for your kids to enjoy.
Have you ever made an igloo and do you have any easy tips to share?