Why is it Important for Our Children to Play Outside During the Winter?
It is always important for our kids to be outside and active, but in the winter it is even more important. Spending time outside helps stave off seasonal affect disorders, reduces the incidence of depression, obesity, and increases one’s ability to concentrate and pay attention. Playing outside even improves academic test scores! Quite simply, spending time outdoors leads to health benefits because it is the way we humans have evolved.
Kids learn through play, and have a natural love of the great outdoors and the snow. So who cares if it is cold and snowy, let’s dress ’em warm and get out there! Here are a few ideas to get you started… or just follow your child’s lead.
These winter activities are only the beginning. There are more activities on the It’s All Kid’s Play blog as well as Pinterest. And sometimes I share games ideas on Twitter, too! Oh! And be sure to check out the book I wrote, too. It includes even more travel games as well as over 1,000 other play activities so no matter where you are and what your interests or age, there is something in there for you–guaranteed! Check it out!
Make Snow Angels
Catch a Snowflake on Your Tongue
My problem is that they always melt before they hit my warm tongue, unless they are those huge goopey flakes–those are awesome.
Find Two Snowflakes That are the Same
Can you find one? Experts say there are no two snowflakes that are exactly the same. Are they right?
Build a Snow Fort / Igloo
To build a good snowfort or an igloo, you need crusty snow so you can chop blocks out of the crust with your hands. Stack the blocks (they can be thin) on top of one and another–just make sure it doesn’t fall in on you! If the snow is sticky, you might be able to build walls just clumping snow together!
You know you wanna. (Just make sure you pick up snow that doesn’t have ice chunks or rocks in them–ouch!)
Build a Chair in the Snow
Sledding / Tobogganing
If you don’t have a sled, you can use things like a piece of cardboard, a cafeteria tray (done it! It goes fast if you wax it and ride it down a ski hill!!!), a large plastic bag, and even sitting in a shovel can work for sliding down a hill. What have you got sitting around that would work for you?
Build Tunnels in Hard Snowdrifts
Make sure the drifts are very, very hard, otherwise they could fall in on you and leave you buried in the snow. If you aren’t sure about a drift, ask an adult.
Have the winter blues? Some nice flowers might help. You don’t have to spend a lot to get some nice flowers that will perk up you and your family.
Build a Snowman
Okay, so you’ve built a snowman with three nice balls of snow, some twig arms, some eyes, a mouth, a carrot nose, and maybe ever added a scarf and a hat… but can you make a snowman doing a headstand? I dare you to try!
Crack the Ice on Top of Mud Puddles
Safety First: Make sure that the mud puddles are not deep because the water will be very cold! Do NOT do this on ponds or lakes.
In the fall and spring when the surface of mud puddles freeze overnight step on the tops to see if you can crack and break the ice. I recommend rubber boots! (I love the sound the cracking ice makes, don’t you?)
Make an Ice Sculpture
To make an easy ice sculpture, take a couple of small containers like a margarine container or ice cube tray and fill it with water. (You can use bigger containers like ice cream pails and milk cartons as well.) Put it in the freezer or outside to freeze.
Once frozen, take them outside and pop the ice chunks/cubes out of their containers and starting piling them up to build a sculpture.
Want to know a secret? To make your ice chunks stick together, squirt water between the pieces using a spray bottle, an old shampoo bottle, or a liquid dish detergent bottle.
Tip: You can colour your ice chunks with food colouring before freezing them, add bird seed for the birds, or even add things like pine cones or glitter to make your ice chunks more interesting.
Snow Sculpture: You can also make snow sculptures by cutting shapes out of hard-packed snow. That’s how the Inuit make their igloos, and it is how you can make sculptures and even snow inuksuks like in the photo.
Can you do tricks? How fast can you go? How far can you skate without getting tired? Some towns have ice rinks outside or clear off lakes and rivers so people can skate for miles!
Know what? It doesn’t even have to be winter to play hockey! You can play on the ice, or on the grass, or in a basement….
Skiing is a great way to get out of the house for the day with the whole family. (It’s also my favourite sport!)
Don’t have a curling rink? Make your own on a pond and use a frozen ice chunk as your ‘rock.’ Or, take it inside and use ice cubes on a table or floor. Use washable paints or markers on a safe table to draw the circle target you want to land your ice cube in.
Safety First: don’t forget to wear your helmet, check conditions (especially in the mountains), and have an adult drive.
Broomball has the same rules as hockey and it is also played on ice. But, instead of using a hockey stick and a puck, you use brooms and a ball. As well, players do not wear skates, they wear shoes. Watch out! It’s slippery. (I chipped my kneecap playing broomball, but I was just fine and it was totally worth it!)
Looking for more? Try these places as well:
Might I also suggest this time-saver…
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