Not every child loves winter. For some, the idea of playing outside in January is challenged by hibernating indoors under a blanket fort. But with a little creativity, winter can provide hours of fun for any child! And besides, children need to play outside – even in winter. Playing outside in the snow encourages imaginative play, can offer some much-needed Vitamin D and provides exercise.
If you are at a loss about how to get your kids outside to play during the colder months, here are some ideas for children of all ages:
1) Build your own sledding hill
While going to a big sledding hill is fun, sometimes having one closer to home (like right in your yard) is fun too. A neighbour of mine challenges himself every year to take all the snow from his driveway and build up a tall sledding hill in his yard for his son and his friends. Depending on that year’s accumulation, the sledding hill can get quite tall and the bigger the better for most kids! The neighbourhood kids look forward to this snow hill every year and can be found playing on it well past their bedtime during the holidays and on weekends!
2) Frozen Bubbles
This activity is great for young kids. Take out your leftover bubbles from the summer and get blowing! Frozen bubbles are harder to pop and last longer – and young kids think frozen bubbles are cool. Make a game out of it by seeing how many bubbles can travel across the street without popping or who's bubble can travel the highest before bursting.
3) Build a snowman
The family that builds together… drinks hot chocolate together! After building a snowman (or snowmen) as a family, have your kids choose old mitts, a hat and scarf and decorate the snowman in their own unique style! Don’t hesitate to get creative. In my neighbourhood alone, I have seen two snowmen playing hockey and Harry Potter (the snowman version) playing Quidditch!
4) Animal tracking
Bundle up and head to a local park or nature trail and look for animal tracks. Fresh snow makes for a great opportunity to teach kids about local wildlife and the imprints their paws make. Most urban areas have at least squirrel, rabbit and bird tracks… not to mention dog tracks, which can be noted for all their different sizes.
5) Spray Paint Art
Fill spray bottles with water and food colouring (or Kool-aid) and draw and paint the snow! Have young kids practice writing their names or play tic–tac-toe in the snow using the spray bottles. Tip: Make sure the bottle doesn’t leak and that the colour easily washes off clothes.
6) Fort building
You can buy snow fort building tools in most toy stores or you can use a recycling bin to build big bricks or a sand pail to build smaller bricks. As kids get older you will find them wanting to build forts on their own. Again, encourage their creativity by letting them use various containers you have around the house to build.
I love that my daughter will go outside and play with her friends in the winter, but for those kids who struggle with finding fun in the winter, I think a little family time together outside can be inspirational. Skiing and snowshoeing aside, with a little ingenuity and a lot of imagination, you can keep all children active in the winter, while having a great deal of fun yourself.