Fun indoor and outdoor winter activities for the whole family
A snowy day in the neighborhood
Winter Activities for the Whole Family
Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean the outdoor activities have to stop! Here are some ideas for outdoor fun.
Sledding/Coasting/Tubing: Whatever you call it, sliding downhill in the snow is fun for all ages. You can use inexpensive plastic snow disks, toboggans, inner tubes, or just plastic bags. You can do this in your own neighborhood, or go to a local park. Make sure you bundle up and dress in layers, and wear heavy boots.
Build Stuff: Forts, castle, chairs, villages, and snowmen are just some of the things you can build with snow. You could hold a family snowman competition to see who can come up with the most creative snowman design. It doesn’t just have to be snowmen, either – snow animals are a lot of fun, too.
Snowball Fight! Plot your strategy and engage in a good old-fashioned snowball fight. Make rules and see that everyone follows them – no one should be hiding rocks in snowballs, for instance, nor should players throw hard or throw at the face.
Snow Fort: build a fort before you have that snowball fight so you have some protection. It will take awhile to make the fort and a cache of snowballs, but you will have it to use again and again.
Fox and Geese: create a trail for the game “Fox and Geese” in your yard. It is a pathway that criss-crosses your yard and has a large circle around the outsides connecting the inner paths. Make the tracks or “runs” in the snow and have players play ‘tag’ traveling in the runs. There is usually one fox and several geese.
I like to make my geese run more intricate, but with young children start out pretty simply, than as your children grow and learn the game make the run more challenging.
Snow Snake races: This is an old Native American game: Find a broom or mophandle that is past its prime or a tree branch that is very straight. It must be about 3 to 4 feet long and about 1-2 inches in diameter. The wooden stick must be sanded and whittled down. Cut off the broom or mop top.
Now, spend some time with your child sanding and sanding to make the handle or stick very smooth. Next paint a design in it to look like a snake or with other marking of your choosing. Some folks hammer a nail in the “head” end to make it a bit heavier. The idea is to keep it hidden and everything very smooth. You may want to shellac or polyurethane your ‘snow snake”. This will make it very smooth.
When you are done making your Snow Snake, take it outside. Make a racetrack by pressing down a long row or “run” for each Snow Snake you have made. Now, get on your mark, get set, and slide that snack as far as you can. The Snow Snake that goes the farthest is the winner. Celebrate!
Skiing; A ski vacation can be fun, but if that isn’t your style (or within your budget), look into cross-country skiing in your area, or one-day events at your local ski lodge. If you can rent or borrow skis, you might be able to do some cross-country style skiing in your neighborhood or at your local park.
Lights Tour; During the holiday season, your family can go look at various holiday lights displays. Get out and walk in the neighborhoods and park displays so you get exercise.
Maybe your area is just plain cold with no snow, or no snow at the moment. A cold-weather hike may be just the thing. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate or hot apple cider to enjoy on the trail.
Have a cookout in the cold. Build a bonfire or camping-style fire at your local park or in your backyard. Heat water or milk to make hot chocolate, and roast some marshmallows to go with it.
Ice games can be really fun – just make sure you’re on an authorized outdoor rink or other officially safe frozen surface – it’s not a good idea to go looking for frozen ponds that have questionable ice thickness. Ice skating can be fun for everyone in the family.
Broom hockey is a fun game that doesn’t require skates (although you can play it that way), and allows even younger children to move around on the rink. Use old brooms that can sweep the ball from one end of the rink to the other.
Parts of this taken from the world-wide-web by A. Gagliardi on Dec.3,2011 from: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com
Parts of this Published November 15, 2011 | By Parenting Today
And By A.Gagliardi
St. Paul Winter Carnival: every year has hundreds of activities to see and things to do: Parades, cultural events, ice sculptures, ice skating, sledding, etc. Go to their website: http://www.winter-carnival.com/
Go bowling: there are bowling alleys around the metro area that offer family or open bowling times. There is usually some sort of food offered at these establishments.
Indoor playgrounds: These areas usually have lots of large muscle equipment and space to Run!
Parks: Many parks have indoor activities as well as outdoor ones.
Libraries: Many libraries have a story hour. Most of them have computers and offer to lend books, videos, music, magazines and use of the computer. Check in at your local library today.
Cook something: Make Jello, make cookies, make bread (YES bread), make Stone Soup and read the book. Add the ingredients as you read the story. Say “YUM!” when you eat it.
Make play dough*. There are a variety of recipes. Make goop** or Rainbow Stew*** or other sensory motor concoctions.
BUBBLES! Are not just for summer. Blow bubbles over your kitchen floor, then mop it.
Create Something: Use soupy Jello, pudding or regular water paint to create a piece of art. Work on newspaper, inside of paper bags, or recycled paper. Do torn paper art and glue, glue, glue. Give your child permission to really make a mess, then have them help clean it up.
Build a tower with empty milk cartons. Make milk carton blocks by putting two cartons together. Add to your collection until you have the number you want.
Rearrange the furniture. Create a fort or den with a blanket over the dining room table. Create a small house behind the couch or big chair. Kids love small spaces where they can play quietly. Add a pillow, a blanket and a stuffed animal (or several!)
Play dress-up: Children as young as one want to play with a scarf, a hat or a pair of gloves. Let your child wear all your scarves, or try on all the hats in the house. Sort through the family mittens and gloves and let your child wear them, then do a matching game to get them all back together.
Have an indoor picnic: place a blanket on the floor. Make sandwiches, cut up fruit and vegetables and place juice in a non-spill container. Put all the food into a basket. Carry it all around the house pretending that you are traveling to the park. Then have your child sit with you on the blanket and eat your meal. Lay around the blanket and read books when you are done eating.
Make a train: Line up all your chairs (the dining room table kind) in a row down the center of your room. Find a hat for the engineer and a whistle for the conductor. Sing a train song (“I’ve been working on the rail road all the live long day!”, or something else) everyone sits on a chair and the engineer makes the train noise. The conductor blows the whistle. People in the middle get on and off at various stops with the conductor blowing the whistle each time. This is a fun game to talk about where you want to go and how long you will stay.
Puzzles: Every family should have puzzles. From small easy ones for little children, to more advanced puzzles for the whole family to work on together. Jigsaw puzzles are pretty cheap and are available at most department stores. Keep a puzzle going on a card table or end table so family members can work on it over the course of several days.
Share your Hobby: Is it tops? Is it stamping greeting cards? Sewing? Knitting, crochet? Your child wants to imitate you and will love it if you share your passions.
Bird watching: Watching and feeding the birds is a wonderful Winter activity that can be extended year around. Winter is the time to keep the bird feeder full of seeds, add suet and put out a piece of orange. Help your child make a pair of “binoculars” with two (empty) toilet paper rolls taped together. The ‘binoculars’ help your child focus their vision on one object. Learn the birds in your yard. Name them and look at them. Talk about how they fly, where their nest might be and which seeds they eat. You can get a feeder to attach to your window, or near your window. You will also see rabbits, squirrels, dogs and cats as you look out your windows. Perhaps you will see other creatures as well.
Star gazing: There is something magical about going outdoors on a cold winter evening to gaze at the night sky. Watch the space station travel across the sky. Find the constellations and name them. Notice the moon and which phase it is in. Preschool children can join in this passion and will soon pick up the vocabulary you use.
*Recipe for Play Dough
1 cup flour ½ cup salt
2 Tsp. Cream of Tartar 1 Tablespoon cooking Oil
1 cup water Food coloring
Mix salt, flour and Cream of Tartar in a saucepan. Add food coloring and cooking oil to water, then add that mixture to the dry ingredients in the sauce pan. Now, stir ingredients together and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes together to form a ball, similar to mashed potatoes.
Dump mixture out onto a counter and knead until it is smooth. Store cooled play dough in a zipped bag. This lasts up to one month.
Gluten Free Play Dough
1 cup potato starch or cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 ¼ cup cold water
1 Tablespoon vegetable oil of choice
2-3 drops food coloring.
1. Mix together potato starch & baking soda
in a saucepan
2. Mix water,oil & food coloring together
3. Add this mixture to dry ingredients, stirring well.
4. Heat in a sauce pan, stirring constantly until clay
forms a ball. (small lumps will appear and then
the clay will hold together.)
5. Turn off heat, spoon clay onto parchment paper.
6. Roll the clay in parchment paper forma cylinder
and let cool completely. Knead dough before using.
I got this recipe from Living Without (ISSN 1994-2770 December/January 2012, Vol 15, No 1. pg 10)
***Recipe for Rainbow Stew
1/3 cup sugar 4 cups water
1 cup corn starch food coloring
ZipLock@ freezer bags (1 quart size) Making or duct tape
Cook sugar, cornstarch and water in a sauce pan until it thickens to pudding consistency. Divide this mixture into thirds. Color each third a primary color (Red, Yellow & Blue). Put a spoonful of each color “Stew” into a freezer bag. Close bag, removing as much air as possible before closing. Secure the bag with tape. Squish and mash this mixture to make new colors. Create a rainbow. Flatten the bag and use fingers to draw or “write” in the stew.
**Recipe for “Goop”
One box Corn starch
A Jelly Roll pan or large tray with edges.
Water (2 to 4 cups)
Spoons, combs, plastic tools or utensils to drag through the goop.
Pour Corn Starch onto the jelly roll pan. Add water a bit at a time, stirring to mix it.
Use the other utensils or your hands to push, or pick up the goop. Pick up a handful of goop and squeeze it. Notice that it will stay formed for a second before it drips through your fingers.
Add drops of food coloring if you want to add another layer of play. If you let this dry, you can scrape the corn starch up and use it again another day. It usually dries out overnight.
These recipes taken from “A Taste of Visitation” cookbook from the chefs at the Church of the Visitation. These recipes submitted by A. Gagliardi. 1998.
What is your fav Winter sport?
Which activity will you try with your children?
A selection of snow fellows
I can’t believe I would leave out of any discussion on Winter activities, the building of snow fellows! Creating a snow man, a snow woman, snow children, snow dogs or dinosaurs is a wonderfully fun activity. You can dress your sculpture in a scarf, hat, mittens, or other clothing, or add pinecones, seeds, carrots and apples to feed the animals. Well, here is my invitation to go make a snow fellow!
Some books that I love to read at this time of the year are:
1. “Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy” by Carl R. Sams & Jean Stoick.
2. “Winter Friends” by Carl R. Sams & Jean Stoick.
3. “The First Day of Winter” by Denise Fleming
4. “A Snowy Day” By Ezra Jack Keats
5. “Winter Day Play!: Activities Crafts, and Games for Indoors and Out” By Nancy FuscoCastaldo.
6. “Snowmen at Night” by Caralyn Buehner.
7. “Snowballs” by Lois Ehlert.
8. “All You Need for a Snowman” by Alice Schertle.
9. “Snowmen” by James Melzer.
10.“Snowmen: Creatures, Crafts, and other Winter Projects” by Leslie Jonath.