Getting kids outdoors in the winter always seems more complicated than in the summer. You need equipment for most winter outdoors activities and definitely more clothing to keep kids safe and warm. But kids need just as much time outdoors in the winter as in the summer and with a little planning it can be easy. Here are some simple tips and outdoors activities that help my family get outdoors in the winter.
- Check out these basic safety reminders I put together last year about getting kids outdoors in the winter.
- Happy Trails Wild Tails put together a wonderful collection of ideas for keeping kids warm in the winter. A great opportunity to learn from other peoples’ experience.
- If you are looking to save money on winter clothing, try buying clothes used or on end-of-season clearance the year before. The tricky part about buying cloths at end-of-season clearance is guessing what size your kids will be the next season. We generally ere on the side of caution and buy two sizes larger than what they are currently wearing. I would rather have clothing too big, than too small. We have had good luck with both of these options.
- Keep winter gear organized! This can be especially difficult because there are so many pieces. I keep all our gear (gloves, hat, scarfs, snow pants, etc.) in a bag by the front door. Every time we come inside I do a quick inventory to make sure we have everything and put it back in the bag or hang them up to dry with the bag close by. That way I don’t have to hunt for a stray glove every time we want to go outside. Makes getting out the door MUCH less stressful.
- If you don’t have great winter clothing, keep outdoor activities shorter but go out more than once a day if you can. We don’t get a lot of snow where I live and if it snows it might be on the ground for a couple days. As a result it isn’t worth investing in a ton of winter gear. So we just keep our outdoor time to about 30 minutes then go back inside and warm up with hot chocolate then head back out again. Could do the same thing in your car.
Here are some of my favorite simple outdoor activities for kids in the winter; snow is optional:
- Bird Feeders – I made stick and pipe cleaner bird feeders last fall. I love them because the kids can get creative and make whatever shapes they want out of the pipe cleaners and it is an activity in-and-of-itself to refill them. This year I made these bird feeders out of a plastic soda bottles (pictured below). Lots of options out there.
- Ice Ornaments – Freeze water with a few drops of food coloring in paper or plastic bowls. Before the water freezes place a piece of sting into the water to use to hang the ornaments. These are pretty even if Christmas is past.
- Make Ice Blocks – I dropped a bit of food coloring into an ice cube tray filled with water before freezing. The kids had a lot of fun playing with these outside. I just had to keep an eye on how wet their hands were getting to make sure they didn’t get too cold.
- Create Nature Art – Gather whatever natural materials you can find and let your kids create art. The possibilities are endless. Here are what my kids did this past March.
- If you don’t have snow but are in the mood for sledding, try ice blocking. Buy a LARGE block of ice, take it to the top of a hill, sit on it and slide down. I would recommend this for older kids and be ready for some bumps and bruises along with the fun. Placing a towel over the ice block helps.
- Scavenger Hunts – Winter is a great time to look for bird’s nest, left over pine cones and berries, and animal tracks. Get outdoors and see what unique things you can find.
- Snow Maze - Make tracks in the snow and try to follow them back the way you came.
If you are interested in getting into the more traditional winter sports, check out these articles.
- Go Adventure Mom has some great money-saving tips for down-hill skiing.
- Interested in snowboarding? REI has all the information you need.
- Snow Shoe Magazine offers an extensive guide for beginners.
How do you all get outdoors and enjoy the crisp winter weather?