Our winters in the Midwest can lead to a lot of cabin fever, but who says you can’t enjoy the outdoors during the colder months? With a little preparation and some creativity, your family will have a blast doing these fun activities together this winter season.
Build a Fort
Don’t let the snow stop you from having some outdoor fun — use it to your advantage! Building a fort is an all-day activity that will give kids a new place to play for a few days before the sun melts it away (and you might even get some help shoveling, too!) Equip the entire family with shovels and buckets (kid-sized shovels will allow even tiny toddlers to help out) and move the snow around to create a walled fortress. For an extra decorative touch, use sand castle molds and buckets to shape the finish touches.
Make an Ice Ornament
Winter is a beautiful time of the year, and there’s no better way to appreciate its beauty than by incorporating it in a fun crafting project. These ice suncatcher ornaments are perfect for instilling a love for nature in your child. Plus, they only require a few materials that you’ll likely already have on hand; the rest can be sourced outside!
Have a Sled Race
Sledding is a classic snow day activity, but sometimes it’s not possible to get to the sledding hill. Instead of focusing on downhill speed, see how fast you can pull your sled across the flat ground. Competitive kids can pick an opponent; mark a start and finish line; safely strap in a favorite toy, friend, or sibling; then race each other across the snow to see who’s the fastest.
Since playing in the snow is fun, crafting with snow is even better! Plus, painting will take your snow angels and snowmen to the next level. Gather a few simple supplies (like food coloring and cornstarch) and head outside to create epic art on your front lawn. Here is a paint tutorial to try.
Build an obstacle course
Liven up your backyard snow play with a winter obstacle course. Gather some outdoor toys from around your house and garage, then get to building a series of obstacles. Have kids complete challenges like snowball throwing through a hula hoop, moving snow with a shovel and sledding down a hill.
Make bark rubbings
Do you know what species of trees are in your backyard? Making bark rubbings is fun and it’s also a great at-home science lesson for children. All you need is some paper and wax crayons to start your own tree identification guide. Here is a tutorial to get you started.
Identify animal prints
If you live near a park or nature preserve, it’s the perfect time to go hiking and check out tracks in the snow. Prints from deer, rabbits, opossums, squirrels, coyotes and more can be spotted in fresh snow. Have kids measure the tracks and check for other clues to help identify the animals.
Blowing bubbles isn’t just a summer activity. You can create spectacular orbs of ice right in your own backyard. Frozen bubbles are beautiful, so don’t forget to take pictures! AccuWeather has a detailed tutorial.
Go on a treasure hunt
A backyard treasure hunt is the perfect boredom buster for when kids start to get restless with outdoor play. Creating the treasure is super easy, too. Pour water into an ice cube tray, then add a little food coloring and pop the trays into the freezer for a few hours. The result is colorful ice “gems” that kids can search for around the yard.
Grab a brightly colored soccer ball and play soccer in the snow as a family. You can easily create “goals” out of tree branches or other outdoor materials from around your yard. Note: The snowy terrain can make kicking and running a little challenging, so maybe save this activity for older kids.
Host a winter bonfire
Invite friends over for a cozy backyard bonfire night. Have guests bundle up and gather around the fire pit with warm drinks and treats (s’mores, anyone?). Hang sparkly twinkle lights around your patio to make the atmosphere even more magical.
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