15 Fun Winter Activities for Kids
Just because we’re in the depths of winter doesn’t mean the good old outdoors is off limits. A breath of fresh air, and a spot of running about, can be as welcome in the winter as it is at other times of the year. In fact, it could just be the solution for cabin fever that’s reaching boiling point, after weeks of being stuck indoors.
Fundamentally, enjoying outdoor winter activities with kids is all about having the right gear. Wrap them up warm and waterproof from head to toe and you’ll see a smile wedged between their rosy cheeks.
You can read our suggestions of what to do with the kids on a rainy day or check out our article on how to find the best indoor activities near you. But if you’re ready to take winter on, and get outside whatever the weather, then here are our top 15 winter activities for kids.
1. Hit the Slopes
You don’t have to leave Blighty to get on the piste. Dotted around the country are a huge number of dry ski slopes. You’ll be able to sign up for lessons for little ones, or many offer tubing and tobogganing on a ‘have-a-go’ basis. Check out the ski bobs at Snow Trax in Dorset or let the kids have fun in the Alpine Adventure Park on site. At Cardiff Ski and Snowboard Centre they are now offering lessons for the under-6’s called ‘Mini Snow Bears’. Just another couple of dry ski slopes include Ski Rossendale in the North West and Suffolk Ski Centre in Ipswich but you’re sure to find one near you.
If you really can’t bear the outdoors but still want in on the action, head to one of the UK’s indoor snow centres. You could try The Snow Centre in Hemel Hempstead or Chill Factore in Manchester.
If you like the idea of slipping and sliding winter fun but aren’t so sure if gravity works in your favour, then it’s time to give ice-skating? Many of the winter pop-up ice rinks are only for the Christmas season. Ones which open a couple of weeks into January include Somerset House, Winchester Cathedral, Edinburgh St Andrew Square and Swansea Bay. However, you could always head to one of the many indoor rinks if you prefer.
3. Winter Scavenger Hunt
If you want to get the kids out and about, but need a focus to keep them out of mischief, then a winter scavenger hunt could be the solution. We particularly love this one as it uses a combination of pictures and words, making it ideal for pre-readers as well. It’s also great because the kids aren’t only tasked with finding items; they are also encouraged to spot smells and sounds. It’s a great way to really immerse the family in a winter activity.
4. Puddle Jumping
Pull on the wellies, grab some waterproofs, and go and make peace with the British winter rain. Jumping in puddles is one of the joys of childhood and, by planning for it, everyone will be happy. A good squelch through some mud will also create fun from the bad weather.
5. Play in the Snow
If you see some snow then it’s time to get out and play. One of the most-loved winter activities for kids is simply having fun in the snow. Make snow angels, have a snowball fight, or build a snowman… let their imaginations run wild. Warm up back inside with a steaming mug of hot chocolate afterwards.
6. Stroll in the Woods
The woods draw our attention in autumn with their vibrant colours, but don’t miss out on beautiful winter woodland walks. Often the lack of foliage opens up another side to our woods and you can get glimpses of views you wouldn’t normally see. It’s also a perfect way to discuss the seasons, clamber along fallen trunks, and spy some vibrant red berries.
7. Make a Bird Feeder and Get Watching
Our little-feathered friends could do with a helping hand at this time of year and fortunately this coincides with a fabulous winter activity for kids. Use cardboard toilet rolls, peanut butter and bird seed to make simple bird-feeders. Follow the instructions here. String them up in the garden where they can be seen from the window, then get watching! Which British birds can you spot?
8. Ice Art and Ice Science
Winter is the perfect time to use the cold weather in both art and science. Blow bubbles when it’s chilly and watch them freeze before they pop. Make ice cream using plastic bags. See how many ice cubes you can stick together (tip: use some salt). Freeze water in old juice cartons then let the kids play with salt and food colouring for some impressively creative results.
If your kids love a challenge, and you want to get out and try something new with a treasure reward, then geocaching may be for you. This growing hobby involves using a GPS to track down mini treasure chests with the rule: if you take something, leave something. There are literally thousands of these caches all around the country – you may even walk past several each day and not even realise. You get everything from quizzes to solve in order to find the coordinates, to micro-caches which are hard to spot. The kids will love hunting for treasure and feel ‘in on the secret’.
10. Bike Riding
Just because it is cold doesn’t mean you should miss out on family bike rides. We suggest heading onto disused railway tracks that have been converted into trails. These are often surrounded by trees and go through cuttings and are therefore less exposed. They also tend to be on firm ground for young cyclists. Do make sure the kids have gloves on – hands on handlebars get cold quickly. Also adjust their helmet and pop a hat underneath. For the very smallest ones in a trailer, make sure they really are toasty snug with blankets and even a hot water bottle. Remember – they aren’t pedalling so may get cold sooner.
A fantastic way to introduce basic map-reading skills to children is to take part in orienteering. You can find simpler trails all over the place and the kids will love learning to use a compass to find their way between different control points. You might just discover a new family hobby.
Whilst the dark evenings are shortening the days, take advantage of this as an opportunity to stargaze with little ones. In the summer months children are usually in bed a long time before the stars come out, so this can be a fascinating opportunity for them. Choose a clear night and sit out wrapped in blankets and simply watch the night sky. If you want to know a little more about what you’re looking at there are plenty of stargazing apps to choose from, such as Sky Map.
13. Winter Picnics
We tend to associate picnics with the warmer sunny days, but you just need to take a different approach. Pack up a flask of warming soup, and wrap hot, freshly-cooked sausages in layers of foil and newspaper, then head out for a winter picnic. Enjoy a brisk walk and then indulge in your winter fare.
14. Ice Egg Hunt
It might not be Easter, but winter is the ideal time for an egg hunt with a difference. Pop small toys inside balloons then add some coloured water. Freeze them by leaving them overnight in the garden if it’s set to drop below freezing, or pop in the freezer. Once frozen, cut away the balloon. Hide the ice ‘eggs’ around the garden to find. Once they’re all found create a nest where the small toys can ‘hatch’ (defrost).
15. Play Pooh Sticks
The problem with trying to play Pooh Sticks in summer is that there’s often not enough water in the stream or river. Not so in winter! Grab some sticks and challenge the kids to this much-loved outdoor game. If you’re heading to a popular bridge for the game, such as Pooh Bridge itself, make sure you collect your sticks before you get to the bridge!
Don’t let winter hold you back. With these winter activities for kids we’re sure you’ll be longing for wintry days more often!
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