I don’t know about you, but I have had just about enough being locked up in the house with the kids. So this winter I plan to get out and about no matter the weather, with this list of fun outdoor winter activities.
I live in Scotland so we have all forms of wintry weather here all year round: snow, rain, and if we get lucky, it’s just clear and cold! I have included activities for all of these options. Many of the activities originally intended for specific weather conditions can be modified a little to suit other weather scenarios and I will try to indicate this where possible.
Additionally some of these activities fit certain age groups better than others, but can be modified to suit your children’s ages appropriately.
Lastly, it is obviously important to wear weather appropriate clothing while doing any of these activities.
Outdoor winter activities for kids at home
- Make music in the rain by taking out old plastic bowls and metal plans, turning them over, and letting the rain fall on the bottom. The rain will make a different sound on each item, and your child can experiment with which items sound the best. For older kids you could take glass bottles out, and create bottle flutes, as the sound changes depending on the amount of water in them.
- If everything is already wet anyway, why not bust out the water guns in the rain. Get them suited up in rain gear and let them play with these summer staples in the winter time. If it is snowy out this can be even more fun if you fill the guns with a bit of warm (not hot) water and they can melt the bits of snow they shoot.
- Offer to shovel the snow for your neighbors or someone nearby who is vulnerable. You can then use the extra snow to build a snow fort, a snowman, or have an epic snowball fight. This is a great way to teach children empathy and respect for others, while rewarding them with fun for their good deeds.
- Paint on the snow or create an epic colorful snowman. For this you can use non-toxic kids paint watered down, water colors, or mix food coloring with water. Then using a paint brush or even a squirt bottle, you can paint the snow. Use this to create decorative art on the snowy floor or make that rainbow snowman they always dreamed of.
- Create a snow volcano. Start by digging a small hole in the snow, placing a plastic cup inside, then pack snow around the edges into a volcano shape. When prepared, put a couple spoonfuls of baking soda and a few drops of food coloring in the cup. Next up you add a big splash of vinegar and enjoy the colourful show. If you don’t have snow you can do the same trick by placing the cup in a mound of mud or sand.
- Thread popcorn or cereal onto a bit of yarn then hang it around your fence, yard, or trees to create wildlife feeders. Once the yard is decorated you can go inside and watch all the animals nibbling on the goodies you have left them.
- Go ice bowling. Fill old soda bottles with water (colored if you like) then allow them to freeze outside overnight, and tomorrow you can play “bowling” with your homemade bowling pins. You can create the bowling ball by filling one balloon completely and placing inside a bowl that allows it to keep its round shape.
- You can also make giant frozen marbles to play with or decorate the yard. Fill large round balloons with water and food colouring, tie the balloon tightly and give it a good shake. Next place the balloons outside overnight (or in the freezer if you are in a hurry). When they are solid remove the rubber from the balloon and enjoy your masterpiece. Kids will have fun playing marbles or decorating on top of snow with these colourful creations. They are also great fun to (gently!) kick or slide around on the pavement in the rain.
- If you are feeling truly adventurous you can try camping out in the backyard. This is great for kids who always want to go camping in the rain or snow. They get a taster session of what it is like, and if you all get too cold you can always go back inside.
Outdoor activities for children away from home
- Check out some winter sports for kids. Ice skating and hockey are great for older kids. For younger ones you can even just take a football (soccer ball) or other sport and play in the snow or rain. It will create a new difficulty and dynamic to the sport that will be a lot of fun. Just make sure you don’t mind getting a little messy.
- If you are lucky enough to have a pond or lake near you, try out ice fishing. For younger kids you can even “create” a fish pond in the backyard by filling up the kids pool with water, letting it freeze over a little, then “fishing” out toys.
- Fill up a thermos with hot cocoa and go stargazing, or maybe make a bonfire (campfire) and roast marshmallows on top. You can then smash the melted marshmallow between chocolate and cookies for a real treat.
- Go for a walk during the rain to find all the creatures that like to come out in the wet weather. You could make a game of hunting out slug, snails, and worms.
- In super rainy weather maybe you can find a muddy puddle or two to splash in, or race “boats” made out of leaves or twigs down little gutter streams.
- You could walk around your neighborhood to admire all the lights and decorations people have out. Most of them are up for Christmas, but will remain up until the end of January.
- Take a walk in the woods while it is raining. The trees will smell different and the sound of the rain falling through the branches is quite relaxing. Equally, a walk through a snowy forest can be pretty magical.
- Create some frozen art. While you are out on your walk, why not grab some pretty leaves, twigs, berries, or pinecones. When you get home, arrange them inside a dish or mold filled with water, place a bit of string on the side hanging slightly out of the bowl, then freeze it all together. Once it is solid, remove it from the dish (or mold) to reveal a frozen ornament you can hang outside.
- Go sledging. This of course works in the snow, but can also work during really wet and muddy weather. If you don’t have an actual sledge try using a thick piece of cardboard or a large plastic lid from a storage bin.
I hope some of the ideas here are helpful and get you and your kids out of the house to make some great memories.