Just because it’s getting colder doesn’t mean the outdoors is off-limits!
Here are some great tips for getting your kids outside during winter, from Tom at Have Fun Outdoors.
It’s true, we all love spending time tucked under blankets, watching films and staying cosy during Winter months. However, you will be surprised at the multiple benefits for children’s physical and mental health from simply spending time outdoors, including during Winter.
So let’s get outside and reap the benefits. Winter is the perfect time to shake off the cabin fever, absorb Vitamin D, burn calories, and improve our mental health. As long as kids wrap up warm and stay safe, being outside even in the cold weather is far more beneficial than staying inside.
It’s no secret that we have all spent a lot of time indoors this year than we would have liked to. So like us you’re probably feeling a little cooped up. Therefore we have picked 6 simple outdoor activities that you can do with kids this winter.
Before heading out during the winter, it’s essential that you fully prepare for spending time outdoors. Dress kids with appropriate clothing for the Weather. All in one waterproof suits are great for those who love to get stuck in, and layers are good because you can always take a layer off if you get too warm. Take plenty of water, and we promise that snacks are always handy too.
Be a Nature Detective and Hunt for Animal Tracks
Winter doesn’t stop you from going for a Woodland walk. We can get a little worried about taking children to the same places time after time and want to take them somewhere new and exciting. Still, actually, it’s really educational for kids to see the same places during different weather conditions. This way they can experience for themselves the changing of the seasons.
Why not hunt for animal tracks whilst on your woodland walk? Can you decipher the print clues, for example, the number of toes, size of the feet, and the colour of feathers? Maybe you’ll find fox, squirrel or if you’re really lucky deer tracks! Follow them or make this into a game and try to guess the animal that’s left these marks behind. Don’t worry if you can’t work out what animal made the tracks, snap a quick photo, draw a quick sketch, and research them when returning home.
Celebrate Winter Solstice
The Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Why not embrace this changing of the seasons and celebrate it with your friends or family.
Maybe have a campfire in the garden together or at a local green space that would allow this. Light candles, eat outdoors, make offering trees. Children will forget the things they are bought or gifts they are given over Winter. They won’t forget memories made enjoying traditions like this.
You could even use Winter Solstice as an opportunity to grab a book and cosy up under the blankets for reading time.
Christmas Light Trails and Walks
One of my kids all-time favourite activities over Winter and during Christmas time is the one that costs me nothing! He loves it when we wrap up warm and go for a walk to spot as many Christmas lights as we can. You don’t even have to walk too far, just being outside in the dark is exciting for children. Take some hot chocolate and a head torch for further adventures.
We take this a step further every year and visit Chester Zoo Lanterns. It is a lantern/light walkthrough and is the most beautiful experience for the entire family. Join them as they transform the zoo into a spectacular wonderland, full of sparkle, delight, a sprinkling of snow and some unexpected festive encounters.
While we are on the topic, why not visit a zoo during Winter too? Dodge the queues and the hustle and bustle by visiting the zoo in the colder months. Lot’s of animals are actually more active during Winter such as Leopards, Red Panda’s, Penguins and Sea Lions. You’re sure to have a great time.
Make a Bird Feeder
Teach children to have empathy for nature and learn how animals survive during Winter by making a bird feeder with them. Winter is a great time to do this, and there are so many tips and tutorials on how to make one that is right for you online. They mostly use materials you probably have at home. We have found a great one by using cardboard toilet rolls, rolling them in peanut butter and then rolling them in birdseed so that the seed sticks to the peanut butter. Allow to dry solidly and then place them over a branch in the garden. Such a fun and simple activity for kids and you’ll attract some wildlife into your garden too.
When finished place the feeder in your garden in a place where they can easily be viewed from a window, which is a great way to get kids connecting with the outdoors from the indoors' comfort safety and warmth.
You could also make a winter garland for birds and woodland animals. Use string and thread through items such as seeded bread, dried fruit, popcorn, cereal etc. Then tie them up outside.
Make Story Stones
Wrap up, head out and collect some stones. Let children choose stones they are drawn to and find interesting. What do their shapes remind youhem of? You’re sure to spark a story!
Next, decide what characters you would like in your story. Will it be Woodland animals? Bugs and insects? Anything will work, but it should be something your kids are excited about. If you need inspiration, use a story from your child’s favourite book such as The Gruffalo, this works really well. There should be a mixture of objects, places, and characters for the stones to work. Draw out the outline of each picture onto the pebbles using a black Sharpie.
Then you can use a fine brush to fill in the pictures using acrylic paint and leave to dry or colour them in with more coloured sharpies. You can add a coat of varnish to give the pebbles a nice shiny finish. You could even buy a plain canvas bag or pouch, decorate it, call it the story stones bag, use a pencil to write onto the fabric, and then go over with Sharpie. Decorate it how you wish!
Finally, Have a Campfire!
Campfires are a lovely way to create lasting memories with your family and a great way to keep warm outside during the colder months. It’s one of our favourite ways to round up a day being outdoors, sitting around a campfire enjoying tasty campfire cooked food or toasting marshmallows and telling stories. It’s also great for kids to be around a campfire because they really can learn a lot from such a young age. Initially just how to be around the fire and have a campfire safely. Then all the science behind fire, and also how to cook on it.
Don’t let winter hold you back! We hope you find our 6 simple outdoor activities that you can do with kids this Winter useful and hopefully, we have inspired you to do at least one of them. For more out activities for kids and toddlers, check out this handy guide.