Our kids play outside in our backyard all year long. Most of the toys stay in place where they are because the play changes with the addition of snow (instead of diminishing the fun.) Since we aren’t far from the neighborhood’s coolest backyard, we tend to walk a block to the big community playground instead of worrying about making ours top notch, but it remains a place of active family fun.
- From our recent post on winter fun after the sun goes down: Go snowshoeing after dinner and play follow the leader. Turn on the back porch light (or whatever you have) and just move (and play and laugh.) With less natural light, a smaller space feels much bigger and the adventure rating goes way up. We aim to touch every corner (and look for “cool things”) of our small backyard space.
- Build a snowman. Get creative and use natural parts of your space as props. Set snowmen on swings, build forts and have a snowball fight against the “men” you make, build a whole snow zoo. Snow not sticking? Just spray a little water on. It changes the chemistry and helps sugary snow stick!
- Dress in full winter gear and go down slides (assuming you have one.) Our Little Tikes Slide (you know – the orange and blue one that you see all over) may be small, but the kids FLY down it in the right conditions. Make a snow pile at the bottom to ease the impact of quick kids! Don’t have a slide? Venture to your local playground – they are usually even better!
- Have a snow angel-making contest
- Put colored water (use food coloring) in spray bottles and “paint” the snow
- Practice skiing (kids learn XC skiing best in their own yards….because the hot chocolate access is so much better…)
- Set up an obstacle course: Run up snowy slides, give snow-people high-fives, fill buckets of snow and dump them on the other side of the yard (to be used in a fort later.) Don’t be discouraged by small spaces – kids are less intimidated by them (and think more about the “fun” and less about the “work” to get from one spot to another.)
- Go sledding. Even the smallest of hills can be oodles of fun depending on the conditions of the snow and the size of the kid. Don’t have a hill? Build one with all the snow you can find!
Great Winter Play Resources:
Snow Play: How to Make Forts and Slides and Winter Campfires by Birgitta Ralston is a GREAT book for even more ideas about winter creative fun. While it is definitely not geared towards younger kids, and older kids will need adult help, it has plenty of full-family ideas.
Our favorites include:
- The Winter Campfire Ring – pg. 50
- Curious Footprints (the snowshoe idea with your own custom “print”) - pg. 70
- Ice Slide (Thing luge down a huge pile of snow) – pg. 98
The book is great about laying out what tools/resources you will need for each project/activity, what sort of snow is best, how many people you will need to help and how long (on average) it will take. The only thing it doesn’t say (and I wish it did) was what ages each project would be good for.
The book retails for $14.95, but can be found cheaper on Amazon.com.
Explore Winter! 25 Great Ways to Learn about Winter by Maxine Anderson is chock-full of great ways to explore winter and cold and everything that goes along with it. Science experiments, activities, projects and fun facts/jokes help teach kids (and their adults too!) all about my personal favorite season. The best part? It helps foster a LOVE for snow and the cold because your focus is on so much more than what you see out your window. So, adults, if winter isn’t your favorite time of the year – definitely check this out…for the sake of your kids!
The book is geared towards kids aged 6-9, but we have accommodated some of the information for our 3.5 year old and use the book as a reference to start teaching him fun facts about the questions he is asking anyway (example: Why can’t I make THIS snow into a snowman???)
While I haven’t checked it out yet, there is also an Explore Spring book too by the same author.
Make sure to head on over to Go Explore Nature throughout January for tons of ideas during their 31 Days of Backyard Nature Fun. Debi is the QUEEN (in my opinion) of all things fun and nature and I love to draw inspiration from her and her blog!
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