Fun Winter Outside Activities for The Whole FAMILY
Cold weather doesn't have to keep kids indoors playing video games all day. As long as they're dressed appropriately, children can participate in a variety of sports that can help them keep fit over the winter. Staying physically active helps kids stave off boredom and keep their mood up, too. Snow sports may come to mind first, but plenty of cold weather sports options are available even in less snowy areas.
Looking forward to the snowy season and all it has to offer? Winter can be a great time to get outside and keep fit — for you and your family. But what if everyone in your house believes that winter is a time for hibernating in front of the TV? Don't despair: the whole family can do lots of fun things once the weather turns frosty.
Beating the Cold-Weather Blahs
Once a chill is in the air, our bodies begin to want to conserve energy to use as heat. We tend to eat a little more and become less active. Being cooped up inside and being more sedentary can lead to the "cold-weather blahs." Kids might feel more tired, lethargic, or even a little bored.
A good way to kick this feeling is to get them out into the snow to play! Winter can be a great time for family activities that allow you to spend time with your kids while being active.
FUN Cold-Weather Activities
Some sports that everyone in your family can try.
Sledding.Sledding gives children the fun of speeding down hills without the expensive equipment, lift tickets and lessons needed for skiing and snowboarding. It's also a practical option for kids with lower-body physical challenges. To reduce risk of injury, get your kids a sled with a steering mechanism and easy-to-grasp hand holds, rather than a toboggan, plastic snow disc or homemade devise. Kids younger than 12 require a fitted helmet, too, note experts from the University of Michigan. Always supervise sledding activities and check the entire course for rocks, trees and other hazards before letting your kids take off.
Skiing. Alpine (downhill) skiing is an easy sport to try, but novice skiers should take a lesson first and get instructions on staying safe. Many ski resorts have reasonably priced lessons for first-timers. A competent instructor can show kids the proper techniques while also ensuring they start on a hill that's appropriate for their skill level.
Cross-country skiing. For cross-country skiing, long, thin skis are used. This type of skiing uses a binding system that holds the ski boot to the ski by the boot's toe. This lets the heel move up and down naturally, enabling skiers to travel long distances and climb hills. It's a great cardiovascular workout and a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Virtually any flat or near-flat snowy surface works.
Snowboarding. Snowboarding is also popular. Kids especially love this type of snow "surfing," and many resorts offer the equipment for rental along with traditional skis. Snowboarding uses different techniques than downhill skiing, so your family should take a few lessons first. If you've been on a surfboard in water, you'll find the snowboarding style familiar.
Snowshoeing. Snowshoeing doesn't require any particular skills or specialized equipment, and it can be done almost anywhere there's snow. The snowshoeing technique is as easy as walking, so anyone can do it. If you like walking, hiking, or running, you'll find that strapping on a pair of snowshoes is a great way to work out. The slower pace of snowshoeing also allows family members to stay together. Traditional snowshoes can be strapped onto any pair of boots without heels and can be rented from an outdoor equipment retailer.
If you want a more solitary experience, explore nature with a small group. Take a perfect winter nature walk on cross-country skis or snowshoes. You will get a physical workout while experiencing nature's beauty, and perhaps even spot a deer, rabbit or beaver. Sleigh rides are also popular, meandering down country roads. If you want speed, try snowmobiling. Summer-time hiking paths transform into wintertime snowmobile trails.
Ice skating. You may remember struggling with weak ankle support when ice skating as a child, but great improvements in skate design have improved the skating experience. Take your family out to the rink for an afternoon or evening of ice skating. Many rinks rent molded fiberglass skates that have more ankle support and warmth than figure skates.
A campground near a frozen body of water presents the opportunity for ice fishing. This activity should be attempted only on lakes or ponds with ice thick enough to support the weight. Look for signs that indicate the ice is safe for fishing. Keep in mind that walking onto a frozen body of water always presents a risk of falling through the ice, even if it appears safe. New ice is generally safer than older ice. The thickness of the ice may vary in different areas of the lake.
Build a Snow House.
Don’t worry about a roof, unless you have several feet of snow piled up. A roofless snow house is easier and you don’t have to worry about collapses. Build up walls for a snow house, a snow castle, or an igloo. Then build some furniture and play an outdoor version of house. Make paths to connect the houses and shovel out streets and sidewalks for a whole snow village.
Wet, dense snow is like sand, in that it can be formed into shapes. Bring out your sandbox toys, buckets, Tupperware containers and other molds and make a snow castle or anything else your imagination comes up with.
Lie on the ground and form a snowman shape around you. Then try a mermaid’s tail, an angel with wings, a butterfly and other characters. Make sure your kids are bundled up well for this one!
Make some homemade snow paint using water and food coloring, fill some spray bottles and let your children express their artistic sides in the snow. With a sharp stream on the spray bottle or in a squeeze bottle, kids can write their names in the snow or make a large message in the yard.
Everybody grabs their saucer sleds and divides into two sides. Take hold of either end of a long rope and pull. Try to pull your opponents over to your side without sliding toward them.
Catching snowflakesPlace a black sheet of paper into a freezer until cold. Take outdoors and use a magnifying glass to view snowflakes that land on the paper.
clean microscope slide or small piece of thin Plexiglas
clean, empty plastic container
spray can of clear lacquer
magnifying glass or microscope
Allow slide, container and lacquer to cool outside so snowflakes won’t melt when landing on the slide. Spray thin coat of lacquer on slide and tilt so any extra spray runs off. Allow lacquer to set for a few minutes. Catch several snowflakes on slide and then set back into container and cover with lid. Leave slide outside to harden for three to four hours. View with magnifying glass or microscope.
Make some Jell-O following the directions on the box. Divide evenly into two plastic containers with lids. Place one on top of the snow and bury the other under the snow. Which one freezes first? Try activity again, wrapping containers with insulating materials like a scarf. Does it take longer for the Jell-O to freeze now?
Snowball thermometer.On a mild day, make snowballs of the same size and place them on different surfaces outside, e.g. rock, patch of grass, sidewalk, parked car. Check to see which one melts first.
Snow melting rate.On a mild day, place sheets of different colored paper (including a sheet of black and one of white) on the snow in full sunlight for two-three hours. Use stones to hold them down. Then observe which one sank the deepest into the snow.
Winter wildlife detectives.After a fresh snowfall, look for animal tracks and try to figure out which animal made the tracks.
Ice cube scavenger huntUsing food coloring, freeze ice cubes of one color or of several different colors. Hide cubes in the snow in a designated area and let the children try to find them.
Play tag, stepping only in others’ footprints.
Make a Snowman. Everyone knows about building snowmen, but maybe you didn't know about some variations on the age-old theme. Dress your snowmen (and women) in Halloween costumes or old clothing. Use drops of food coloring to make colorful streaks through the snowman's sparkly flesh. Have contests to see who can make their snowman look most like the president, a favorite teacher, or Mom or Dad. OR make Snow Turtles (or Owls or Alligators, Etc.): Create a wintertime zoo out of snow. You can sculpt just about anything out of snow with a little creativity. Start with turtles because a round mound is less frustrating than a complicated animal (such as a porcupine).
Hope you can enjoy these snow FUN activities with your family. Please share any of your snow FUN activites with us.
After your fun activity, enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.