The transition to winter is exciting for the first few weeks, but after a few too many cold and dreary days in a row, it can be difficult to appreciate the season. Short, cold days mean that kids are stuck inside more often. But this doesn’t mean that the fun should stop until summer returns.
Here’s a mix of fun outdoor and indoor winter activities so that kids can keep having fun – no matter the weather.
1. Go on a nature scavenger hunt
Getting everyone outdoors may seem daunting when it’s so cold outside, but it can still be a fun experience. To get kids excited about an outdoor hike or walk, consider going on a nature scavenger hunt. Make a list of things in nature that you’re likely to encounter on your route, like pinecones, animals tracks, or a frozen puddle.
Cross the items off the list as kids find them, or let kids take photos of the items. You may need to remind excited kids that you are only looking at the items, not taking anything you find with you.
Besides being a great learning opportunity for kids, a nature scavenger hunt allows kids to observe and appreciate nature in the winter. Once they begin looking closely, what kids notice may surprise them.
2. Create a snow maze
After the fun of making the first few snowmen and tons of snowballs have worn off, kids can head outdoors to make a snow maze. This is a great backyard activity, but it can also be done in a park.
To create the maze, kids should stomp down the snow to create multiple pathways. They will probably need to go back and forth a few times, depending on how deep the snow is. Encourage kids to make plenty of dead ends in the maze.
Once the maze is finished, mark the beginning and the end. Then, the whole family can try to make it through the maze.
3. Go tobogganing
There’s a reason why tobogganing is a classic winter activity. There’s nothing more exciting than speeding down a hill through the snow. It’s a simple activity that kids can enjoy for hours.
If you don’t have a toboggan on hand, it’s possible to make one at home with cardboard, a black garbage bag, and duct tape. Use the cardboard to create a base. Then, kids can attach the garbage bag to the underside of the base using duct tape.
Not only is making a homemade toboggan a fun, hands-on activity, but a cardboard toboggan is also light, making it easier for kids to carry their toboggans uphill.
4. Try a snow-melting science experiment
Snowy weather can provide a great excuse for a fun science experiment and a little learning. All kids will need is several containers and some snow.
Send kids outside to collect the snow (with help if needed). Then, divide the snow evenly among the containers. The kids can pick different places inside to place the containers of snow and predict which location will cause the snow to melt the fastest and the slowest.
Kids can check the containers at regular intervals (every 15-30 minutes) and record what is happening in each location. Older kids can write down their observations while younger kids may be more interested in drawing what they see.
5. Create a DIY suncatcher
The limited daylight hours during the winter can get gloomy after a while, but creating a suncatcher can help kids enjoy when the sun makes an appearance.
There are many different methods for making suncatchers to hang in windows. One of the easiest methods only requires tissue paper, wax paper, a paintbrush and glue.
Cut the tissue paper into 1-2 inch pieces. Kids should use the paintbrush to apply glue to the wax paper and arrange the squares of tissue paper on the wax paper. It’s OK if some of the tissue paper overlaps. This is a great time to talk with kids about the new colours that form when two different colours of tissue paper overlap.
Once the wax paper is covered with pieces of tissue paper, let the glue dry. Then, kids can cut out different shapes to finish up their suncatchers. Place the suncatchers in the window either by using tape or by punching a hole near the top of the suncatcher and attaching a ribbon to hang it in the window.
6. Go to the zoo
Going to the zoo may seem like a summer activity, but the zoo is still an interesting place for kids in the winter.
Some animals may not be in their normal outdoor exhibits during the winter, but other animals are happy to be outside in the cold weather. Also, all indoor exhibits function as normal during the winter. Visiting heated indoor tropical exhibits feels almost like a vacation during this time of year.
Many zoos have special ticket prices during the winter, so your visit to the zoo may be less expensive than normal. Your local zoo may even have special events that occur during the winter months.
7. Host a Family Olympics
Family time can get challenging when everyone is together indoors for too long. A Family Olympics can channel some of that energy into a friendly competition.
This activity can be as simple or as complex as desired. Kids can create paper medals, make banners, and research different countries, or your family can skip straight to the games.
Kids can create a list of 5-10 different games for your Olympics. With younger kids, you may need to help make the list of games. These can be physical challenges or intellectual challenges. Relay races, playing catch, hula hooping, a spelling bee, or finding countries on a map are a few examples of possible games.
Divide into teams or have each family member play by themselves. Decide on a method of keeping score, and then let the games begin.
8. Visit the library and check out some new books
Going to the library is always a good idea. It’s a good reason to leave the house, and it’s also free.
At the library, kids can check out a couple of different books that interest them to take home. That way if one of the books doesn’t live up to its cover, they’ll have another one to read instead.
A good book can provide hours of entertainment. Reading is educational, but it’s also really fun.
9. Go skating
There are some activities that are even better during the winter, and ice skating is one of them. Find an indoor or outdoor rink, and take kids to skate.
Skating is a great activity to get the entire family moving. Ice skating helps improve balance and builds muscles, and unlike adults, most kids are pretty fearless when learning to skate.
Even if you aren’t the most talented skater, the memories you and your kids make of being out on the ice together will last for a long time.
10. Have a picnic (outdoors or indoors)
Picnics shouldn’t be reserved simply for the summer. Having a picnic during the winter is a fun way to change up your family’s routine.
Kids can handle age-appropriate tasks including planning and preparing food for the picnic. Even young kids can help with packing napkins or carrying a blanket.
An indoor picnic on the floor is a novel change from eating at the table. If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, you can bundle up and picnic outside. It might be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean that the fun won’t still happen.