Holy crud, it’s cold outside! With snow days and school breaks fast approaching, do you have a game plan for keeping your kids (of all ages) entertained? With the invention of wi-fi and tablets, they’ll rarely get bored of being inside. Who wants to go outside in this weather? We get it, of course. Very few people actually enjoy being cold and wet, especially when it’s just for the trudge from your car to work or school. But, sunshine and fresh air are important resources that make our bodies function properly. We have to find ways to include them in our lives — and our kid’s lives — even in winter. So if you’re going to freeze your butt off, you might as well have some fun along the way with these outdoor winter activities everyone will love.
Pre-Schoolers and Early Grades
For little kids, “sledding” usually just means being pulled around by Mama or Daddy on a plastic sled. If you’re already exhausted after a long week of work, maybe consider letting it replace part of your gym routine. After all, there’s nothing easy about pulling around a 30-pound tyke through snow.
At this point, a snowball fight might be a little one-sided for your kiddos. You’ll be able to blast them and they couldn’t hit the broadside of a house. But, why not practice technique? Show them how to pack the most perfect snowball and, sure, let them practice hitting the house and then the car. Minimize the size of their target each time you see a notable improvement in their aim.
3) Mini-Snowman Family
By mid-January, we’ve all made our fair share of “full-sized” snowmen, but what about having your little bugs create miniature snowmen families on the front stoop or along the picnic table bench. Encourage them to make a family portrait out of snow and see just who they include.
4) Snow Art
Another great option for creative snow play is to create snow art. This can go in many directions. If you have the prep time and resources, you can fill spray bottles with colored water and let them spray out a masterpiece. You could also let them use sticks to draw. Or, have them collect natural materials and arrange them in the snow to make a piece of temporary art.
5) Go To The Playground
Playground are optimal places to take your kids when you want to run through all their energy, but they’re often abandoned during winter Newsflash: If you’re properly bundled, the swings and slides are just as much fun in December as they are in June. The best part is that there will probably be a lot fewer kids to compete with for the cool equipment.
6) Snow Angels
When was the last time you fell backwards into a fresh pile of snow and made a snow angel? Show your kids how amazing it feels to fall backwards and know that it won’t hurt.
7) Catch Snowflakes
Got a big open space and a sky full of thick, heavy snowflakes? Send your babies out for a spin around the backyard and a taste of fresh snow.
8) Make Snow Cookies
Bring some old cookie cutters into the yard and show your kids how to pack snow into the molds. Help them try to transfer them from the cutters onto a cold cookie sheet or plate and then enjoy “eating” them.
9) Make A Bird Feeder
Want to tie in a quick nature lesson during your winter seclusion? Make those old school peanut butter and birdseed-covered pine cone feeders while teaching your kids why it’s harder for bird to feed in the winter.
10) Search For Animal Tracks
Speaking of cool lessons: Have you taught your kids how to spot and identify animal tracks in the mud or snow yet? A track and scat identifying book might be the perfect present to get them geared up for this winter activity. Alternately, you could have them draw or snap picks of the prints they find, then research them on the internet from the warmth of the living room.
11) Snowball Fight
Now that they’ve practiced and mastered packing the perfect snowball, it’s time to turn ’em loose. Get ready, Mamas! They love you, but they’re coming for you first.
12) Sledding Competition
Who can go the fastest? The farthest? Maybe turn running back up the hill into a competition.
13) Build A Snow Fort
Use boxes or milk cartons to make tightly packed snow bricks, then stack them up to make the walls of a fort. Don’t worry about the physics of ceiling building — just use a blanket or sheet.
14) Follow The Leader Through The Snow
Take big steps, little bunny hops and make quick zigzags through the yard. Let your kids try to follow your in your tracks without making new ones.
15) Jump In Snow Piles
Just like you rake up piles of leaves and jump in, you can do the same thing with snow.
16) Practice Writing Vocab Words
You might hear some groaning, but this is a great way to gain 15 minutes of quiet inside. Set your kiddo out somewhere safe (like a fenced-in yard), help them find a stick and tell them you’ll come out once they correctly spell in the snow ten of their first semester vocabulary words.
17) Freezing Scavenger Hunt
Freeze tiny toys in ice and hide them outside before the big snowfall. Once it’s done, let your kids go out and hunt them down. Afterwards, you can melt them at room temperature or in warm water and see how long it takes.
Tweens and Teens
18) Make A Bigger Snow Fort
Urban Legend has it that with the right amount of muscle, anything can be used to build supports for a snow fort — even trashcans packed with snow. How creative can your teens get?
19) Flashlight Tag
Flashlight tag is like regular tag except “It” doesn’t have to physically touch you — just catch you in the beam of light and call out your name. This is especially fun in fresh snow, because they can follow the tracks for the first round or two.
20) Have A Bonfire
Isn’t the idea of bonfires to create warmth? Why do we stop having bonfires once the temperatures drop considerably? Bust out the marshmallows, baby, and fire up the pit.
21) Build “The World’s Biggest” Snowman
They built mini-men when they were little. Now they’re grown and have giant friends. Challenge them to work together to create a massive snowman.
22) Snow Tubing
Tubing always seems a little more dangerous than sledding because those tubes get going so fast! If you don’t want to spend a fortune on snow tube, just re-purpose your pool floats and send your teens to the closest big hill.
23) Shovel (Someone else’s) Driveway
We all rant about “kids these days,” but what are we doing about it? When the boredom sets in and they start complaining about, like, everything, send them on their ways with a shovel. Whether its the old lady next door or grandpa a few blocks over, it’s time to “learn ’em up.”
24) Practice Driving
Yes. It’s dangerous. But if you have a newly permitted teen in your presence, you know that driving in ice and snow is an inevitability. Start on days that aren’t too bad and on roads where they can go at their own pace. They have to learn eventually. Why not start before they absolutely must know?