Favorite Ski Games for Kids
Whether your kids are just getting started on nordic skis or are pros, playing ski games is always a fun way to mix it up. Lots of the time the kids will make up their own games on the fly, but we have a few favorites and some that are new to us this year that we’re excited to share.
Many of the new ski games for kids we have been playing this year we discovered while writing the winter portion of the Outdoor Family Adventure Guide.
If you haven’t checked out this book yet it has over 350 fun activities for getting outside in every season! It is available in e-book and spiral bound. Also this site has some more great ski game ideas.
The Nut Collector (Relay Race)
This ski game was a total hit, and we’ve been playing it often. The basic premise is to find something to gather (these will be your “nuts”) and divide up into two teams (or more teams if you have lots of people!). Each team will have their own area where they spread their “nuts”. Then they have a “basket” area where they bring the “nuts”, one at a time.
Your “basket” can be an actual basket, or it can just be a circle drawn in the snow. It would be nice to have areas marked out well, but we don’t usually take the time to do that and just make double ski trails around the areas and it works out great.
The first time we played, we allowed throwing of the “nuts” into the “baskets”. This made it more of a throwing game than a skiing game, and made us realize that making the area bigger and requiring more skiing made it more fun! So we now specify that each “nut” needs to be skied over across the basket area, and you can only bring one “nut” at a time.
You can use anything you want for the “nuts”. Easter eggs were a lot of fun. They were easy to spot, hold, and ski with. Dinosaurs were also fun, because dinosaurs are always fun.
Pinecones or sticks work also, we have played where one team was sticks and one team was pinecones, but have decided that having both teams gather the same object works best, and smaller pinecones can be hard to grab in mittens for the youngest skiers.
Hot Chocolate Ski Race
We had so much fun playing this. It’s very much like the egg-and-spoon race you may remember doing as a child. It helps kids work on their balance and smooth skating technique.
Make some hot chocolate and distribute it in mugs. We used Fiesta Mugs, but you could use thermoses if they all have their own, and just take the lids off. The mugs we used definitely added some difficulty because they weren’t very deep and sloshed easily. You do want to be careful not to have the hot chocolate be too warm, because one or all of the kids will spill some on themselves!
Line them up with their hot chocolate and give them a “ready, set, GO!”. They race for the finish line on their skis, trying not to spill all their hot chocolate before getting there.
We like to make this one a shorter race, and do it a few times.
For older kids or confident skiers, you could add that they have to make it to finish without spilling ANY to win! We let the kids dribble a bit out. Have some on standby in case someone spills all of theirs; this would disqualify them from the race but should not deprive them of their hot treat.
Horse and Carriage Races
Horse and Carriage races are tons of fun. The main drawback is having enough skiers (or having enough willing skiers). My youngest did it a few times but got a little scared and was a little tipsy. I’d recommend only towing skiers who are able to stay on their feet while being towed, so it’s good to practice this slow before an actual race and be sure they’re into it.
My 7 year old loves pulling people around so much that he often ends up just pulling the 5 year old when the 3 year old doesn’t want to play relay (which is often). So while they aren’t actually competing, they still have a blast towing each other around.
We usually use ropes for this but they’ve used a ski pole in a pinch, it works a lot better with mom’s ski pole than their own as their poles are quite short and it’s hard to skate ski with someone immediately behind you.
Ski Games for Kids: Speed Races
Horse and Carriage or Relay Races are fun because they end up with more laughing and goofing, but my kids also love to just straight up race each other.
Sometimes they race doing a certain style, racing doing skate on the way there and classic on the way back. Or they can mix it up by doing hopping races to see who can hop on skis the fastest from one place to another.
Winding the Rope
This is a fantastic game, but it’s really hard to find a great place to set it up. If you have an area with several stand-alone trees that would be perfect, but you need a good distance between the trees with no shrubs in the way. You can also use posts in a pinch.
The first time we tried this we were on a ski hill on a mountain, and I sent the kids trudging off into really deep snow to get around their trees. One of them enjoyed the challenge, the other did not. Lesson learned, don’t make it more difficult than it already is!
Then we found some posts in the middle of a groomed area, but these were also not ideal as they were on an incline.
That adds some challenge for sure, and did reinforce having to have control (skiing down a slope is harder when you’re attached at the waist to something, and if they go too fast the rope could hurt them).
We had thought about trying to secure ski poles into the ground but you want something with a larger circumference to wrap the straps around so they don’t have to go around as many times.
We discovered that using lawn chairs actually worked really well! You’ll just want to make sure you have it set firmly into the ground, and the skier will need to take care not to have their rope too taught or the chair could tip and need to be reset, costing them valuable time.
Something as simple as setting up a few objects to ski around, either on flat terrain or downhill, can be a lot of fun and is another thing to help with honing their technique.
You can use cones, hula hoops, chairs, or even just whatever you have with you (water bottles, backpacks, etc) and weave around them.
To play Sleeping Giant you have one person playing the giant and the rest of the group on skis a moderate distance away. The Giant is laying down (sleeping) and has hold of a magic treasure. When you say GO, the skiers start off to the Giant, but if the Giant starts to stir from his slumber, the skiers have to freeze.
Once the Giant is asleep again, the skiers can move closer, taking care to go fast but quiet. If they make too much noise the giant will wake and chase them.
The first skier to reach the Sleeping Giant will find their treasure (this can be anything, a stuffed animal works great), and will snatch it and ski away as quickly as possible, because once the treasure has been stolen the Giant will wake up in a wild rage and chase after his treasure!
Full disclosure, we have not tried this. It’s been on my list all winter though, and I think my oldest two would have a blast trying to do a three-legged ski. Just as with a summer three-legged race, you’d tie your leg to a partner’s leg (tying at the thigh would probably be best). Then you have to skis that are right next to each other and you’ll have to work to move your legs in tandem.
I think this would be quite hard and require good communication, and would probably result in lots of giggling and falling over.
Classic Ski Games for Kids
There are many classic games that you can convert to ski games, like Red Light Green Light, Capture the Flag, Simon Says, and Limbo. For Simon Says you can involve lots of balancing/jumping commands like “stand on one ski”, “turn around one rotation”, and “jump up and down five times”.
Limbo is great fun on skis and could be combined with an obstacle course.
Okay, this isn’t so much a game but it’s TONS of fun. I don’t know why we don’t do this more often. Some of you may already know that letting kids hike in whatever costumes they want can add a whole new layer of fun to the outing, and it is just the same for skiing.
You could also turn dressing up into a Dress Up Relay, which is another item on my to do list. If you have a bunch of different costumes you could have the racers go from Point A to Point B in one costume, where they’ll then have to change into a new outfit (ideally things that will fit over ski clothes unless you have mild weather) before heading back.
You could have them just change tops, or have them add bottoms in too which would require taking skis off and putting them back on. Putting skis on is the one thing my 5 year old can do faster than the 7 year old so this would be the way we’d even the playing field a bit for her.
What are your favorite ski games? Let us know in the comments, we’re always looking to add more!
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