I like being warm. I like being dry.
I like having feeling in my fingertips.
Don’t get me wrong, I love winter! I enjoy watching snow fall peacefully outside my window while I drink hot cocoa. I even enjoy skiing and snowshoeing. But getting outside regularly with the kids feels like a daunting and chilling task.
So, to make it a little easier for myself, I’ve set a realistic goal. I plan to get the kids outside and into nature 3 times a week. Below, I list a few activities that I’m going to be using to keep the kids engaged if they lose interest in unstructured winter play.
Does anyone want to join me in this little challenge? If so, like my facebook page and comment to be added to the Nature Matters Community! We can discuss what works and doesn’t work for your family, share ideas, and give encouragement!
This is one of the simplest ways to engage children in nature. (And that’s assuming they need help!) Let your kids stack rocks or arrange sticks in the yard.
A recent snow makes for an excellent blank canvas. The kids can make shapes by walking in the snow. They can make fun designs by arranging twigs around the yard. There are almost no limits to what the kids can create! (Yellow snow might be a limit for some parents. Ha!)
If the kids get too cold and want to come inside, bring a few pieces of nature indoors. You can paint them, glue them together, or tie them together with string. Let your kids’ creativity run wild!
2. Play Games
How about a quick game of tic tac toe using pine cones and rocks?
Perhaps your kids love playing corn hole in the summer. Just dig two holes in the snow (or use a footprint), give your kids pine cones and play as you normally would.
Do your kids love searching for items at the bottom of a swimming pool? Well, you can do the same thing with snow! Simply hide the items and see which child can find the most. I hear that glow sticks are especially fun to find in the snow!
This is yet another common summer activity that also works great in the winter. In fact, the bubbles are harder to pop making them last longer! This activity easily lends itself to a scientific discussion on the properties of liquids at different temperatures. Have fun with this one!
4. Go on a scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun any time of year! In the summer, it’s fun for kids to take a camera and document their finds. But, let’s be honest, handling a camera with mittens and cold hands might make this activity hard for some children. Instead, walk around the yard and help your kids check items off their list. You can find a lot of templates online for winter outdoor scavenger hunts, but I’m suggesting one from Canada’s CBC website that was written by Shanti Nordholt-McPee at Twig and Toadstool. Not only does it have items you can see, but it also encourages the kids to use all their senses. What can they touch, smell, or see? Can they smell some items on the list? What do they smell like?
5. Look for Tracks
Just because we don’t see as many animals in the winter does not mean they are not there. Before going outside, print out a guide for identifying animal tracks. Give your kids a magnifying glass and pretend you are detectives trying to solve the case of the missing winter animal. While looking for tracks, talk about what animals might be active in winter, where they would live, and what types of food they would eat. If you help them find tracks and solve the mystery, they’ll stay engaged and excited!
What strategies/games/crafts keep your kids engaged in outdoor play during the winter? Please leave your ideas and comments below! Or you can join the discussion on my facebook page.
Thanks for reading,