6 Activities To Get Your Kids Outside in Winter

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.

kids activities for winter

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.

sledding hill

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

build a snowman

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

rabbit tracks in snow

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

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.

Exploring the Outaouais with kids: Eco Odysee

We love to explore the greater Ottawa area in the summer ,and sometimes we come across a gem! Eco-Odysée is one of those places. Beautiful scenery, boats, maps, clues, and puzzle solving! It can't get much better in my children's opinion.

My oldest son made a video about our trip there last summer - take a quick peek before I tell you more about it.

 

Water maze adventures

Hop in a paddle boat or canoe and spend a couple of hours going through the swamp maze hunting for animals!

All throughout the maze there are plastic statues of animals. Depending on which adventure you take, you can can move through the maze in a different direction (I love this because there are adventures for different skill levels, but you can continue to do the same level without getting bored).

If you'd rather not paddle or you're just pair, you can get a canoe (it's also a bit cheaper). We managed to get all five of us into one paddle boat, even though it said that the max was two adults and two kids. If your kids aren't too big they're happy to let all five of you in the same boat.

Beyond the maze

Once you're done in the water maze you get to solve puzzles and search for a final answer, which you can bring to reception at the end for a (very) small prize. The kids were really proud of themselves for having solved the entire adventure!

There is also a walking maze and a nice area to picnic.

If you're looking for something fun and a bit different to do this summer, make sure to check out Eco-Odysée!

Small word of warning: we were there on a day that wasn't too hot. I have heard that it can get really hot on the water, so make sure to stay hydrated and use good sun protection.

 

 

Get Outside with David Suzuki’s 30x30 Nature Challenge

My family and I love the outdoors. Whether we are cross-country skiing through Gatineau Park or kayaking on the Ottawa River, we love spending time immersed in nature. It is this love of the outdoors that has us eager to once again participate in David Suzuki’s 30x30 Nature Challenge. This will be our third year participating in the challenge as a family.

What is the 30x30 Nature Challenge?

The challenge is simple: get outside for 30 minutes a day every day in May. For some this challenge may be effortless, but for others it may seem nearly impossible – especially on cool rainy spring days or after a long day at the office. But once you make getting outside 30 minutes a day a regular habit, you’ll be amazed at how good it feels. 

Get the entire family involved!

Every year I enroll my daughter and I in this challenge. Whether we ride our bikes down our local trail, bird watch at a nearby wetland or hike with our dog at a local dog-friendly trail, we make it a point to get outside and in nature every day in May for at least 30 minutes. I’ll admit on busier days it can be challenging, but we hold one another accountable to make sure we do it (and we never regret it!). In our high-tech world I want her to remember how good it feels to unplug and spend time in nature - this challenge is a great way to do that.

Why participate?

We all know getting outside and taking in fresh air is good for us, and getting into nature is even better! Spending time in nature reduces stress and can improve a person’s physical and mental health.

For kids, nature provides a playground of endless possibilities – stick forts, hide and seek, scavenger hunts and more! My daughter is always finding “one-of-a-kind” rocks and pinecones on our nature walks.

Spending time in nature is a great way to teach your kids about the kinds of trees indigenous to the area. In fact, why not learn about a specific plant, bug or bird and then head outside to find them in nature? At our local suburban trail we often see rabbits, white-tailed deer and coyotes (from a distance), and soon the trilliums will be blooming!

Where can you sign up? 

Signing up is easy! Simply visit: http://30x30.davidsuzuki.org/ and enter your name and email address. You will be sent inspiring emails throughout the challenge and can follow other Canadians participating in the challenge by using the hashtag #30x30Challenge or #LoveNature on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Spring is a perfect opportunity to get outside and fall in love with nature. And even if you get outside on a regular basis, why not join the challenge and share with others how you spend your time - it just may inspire someone else to do the same! So, what are you waiting for?! Join the challenge! It starts May 1st!

 

 

Playing with shadows

by Alanna

There is nothing like a little sunshine to make uplift everyone's spirits.  You can't walk down the street without someone smiling or saying hello and smiling (or is that just the friendly nature of Ottawan's?)  The other thing you can't help but noticing one's shadow.  Polka Dot noticed first, during that burst of summer weather we had a few weeks ago.  As we are waiting for Lily's bus in the morning the shadows are amazing and then again at Noon they are even better.  He decided that it would be fun to "step" on me (my shadow) which then lead to a game of shadow tag.  From there, the shadow games exploded.

Tag turned into hiding in peoples shadows.  We made it into a fun gme where we pretend we have four arms and two heads.  It get's pretty silly, but I love the laughter first thing in the morning.

Later in the day we take out our chalk or paint brushes dipped in a puddle, and trace each others shadows.  The kids love how tall they are.  The next step is to retrace our shadows at different times of the day.  They will be amazed. While we are playing I get alot of "scientific" questions from Polkadot (he's BIG into science these days)  We have extended the learning into finding out what is needed for a shadow to appear.  It has been a great learning experience for all of us.

Next week we are going to do shadow puppets and maybe a shadow box.  It is amazing what can happen when you are just standing waiting for a bus. I guess it doesn't have to be boring after all.

Alanna is a mother of two beauties, Nora age 3 (aka coconut) and Avery 5 (aka polka dot). Former ECE turned mother, party planner and blogger.  Never a dull moment around this house.

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