Keeping the kids entertained during the colder winter months can be a headache – especially when you might think it’s too cold for them to go outside! Just because it’s a bit wet and windy doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the great outdoors—here are eight great ways to get your kids outdoors and make the most of the season, whatever the weather!
Free Outdoor Winter Activities
Make bird feeders
Local wildlife struggle during the colder months, especially birds. So why not give them a helping hand and make some bird feeders for their feathered friends?
All you need are seeds, some sticky food (peanut butter, coconut oil and lard all work), and something to stick it all to. You could use something from around the house like an old toilet roll or plastic bottle, or something from out in nature like a pinecone or a piece of bark. Just smear your chosen object with your sticky food, then cover it in the seeds! You can hang your feeder out in the garden or local park – if you’re lucky, you might even get to see some of the local wildlife feeding!
Fun in the snow
If you’re fortunate enough to get snow, the kids will be begging to play in it. Don’t disappoint them – be sure to wrap up warm and take full advantage of the season! There are plenty of fun things to do with snow – compete to see who can build the craziest snowman, have a snowball fight, build an igloo, or go sledding! Just make sure you stay wrapped up warm, and maybe treat yourself to a hot chocolate afterwards to warm up again.
Explore local nature
Head to your local park or green space, and explore the winter wildlife. You can teach little ones the difference between evergreen and deciduous trees, point out seasonal plants like mistletoe and holly, and maybe even try some amateur tracking by following any footprints you can find in the snow or mud! Towards the end of winter, you might even see some of the early signs of spring poking through—snowdrops, early crocuses and the first buds on the trees—providing a great opportunity to teach kids more about the world around them!
Stargazing is a great outdoor activity that can be enjoyed by the whole family, but can be especially exciting for young children, who are normally tucked up in bed by the time the stars come out! Wrap up warm, and head to an outdoor space with minimal light pollution, then just look up at the sky, or use binoculars to get an even closer look.
There are plenty of online resources and apps to help you identify the constellations you see as well—challenge your little ones to find Orion’s Belt, or the Big Dipper! Look out for shooting stars too—and don’t forget to keep an eye on satellites orbiting Earth as well as objects in our solar system such as Mars and Jupiter.
Make frozen starcatchers
Make some temporary art installations using the natural world around you! Explore the winter wonderland with your youngsters, collecting anything interesting or brightly coloured that you see—leaves, berries, twigs and buds are all great options! Then, all you need to do is fill a shallow dish with some water, and arrange your finds into a pretty pattern. Leave them outside overnight, and in the morning you can pop out your frozen masterpiece, ready to display! You can hang your suncatcher from a tree outside, or just lean it against a window to see the winter sunlight filter through.
Explore Christmas markets
What better way to experience the festive season than to head to a Christmas market with family and friends? Most towns and cities will have some kind of festive market during the colder months – these are a great way to get in the festive spirit and experience new and exciting things with young children. Entry to these markets is typically free, and you don’t have to purchase anything. There’ll be lots of exciting new smells, sounds and textures for little ones to explore, and maybe some festive treats if they’re well-behaved! Try visiting mid-week during the daytime to avoid the crowds, and avoid bringing a pushchair if you can.
Go on a Christmas decoration trail
If you live in a town or city, chances are that some of your neighbours will have gone the extra mile for the festive season and added some outside decorations to their houses. Mix up your journey home from school by making a detour via the best-dressed houses in the neighbourhood, and encourage your children to point out their favourite decorations at each of them. Then, once you get home, ask them to draw how they would decorate their own house to celebrate the season!
Have a seasonal scavenger hunt
A scavenger hunt is a great way to spend time outside and encourage children to explore their environment. Your scavenger hunt can be done alone or in groups, and can be as simple or complex as you like. Keep an eye out for seasonal items or symbols in your local area – things to look out for include snowmen, icicles, festive wreaths, Christmas trees, presents, a candy cane, or a reindeer! You can even go a step further and turn it into a competition – who can spot the most snowflakes on their daily walk?