Since we live in Michigan and winter wonderland is one of our state mottos, I decided to highlight some ideas on how to keep getting your kids outside. Here are a few tips from one of MUCC’s partner organizations the National Wildlife Federation on how to have some fun when you cannot get out hunting and fishing. Remember it is important to keep getting kids outside year round. Even in winter, there are plenty of activities your children can do to stay active.
Make sure you bundle the kids up in the proper snow attire, with hats, gloves, and boots and get them outdoors!
Scenario #1: It is a chilly, gray day without a snowflake in sight.
- Go for the gold: Invite friends and family to your own Wacky Winter Olympics, held in your yard or neighborhood park.
- Dog Sled Race: Competitors pull snow sleds loaded with toys, sticks, or rocks across the grass.
- Winter swim relay race: Give each child a tote bag of swim goggles, towel, an old adult swimsuit or oversized flippers. See how fast they can pull on the swim gear over their outdoor clothes, throw the towel around their neck, take a pretend “swim,” and run to a marker and back. Then take the swim gear off and pass it to the next person in line. See which kid is the fastest.
- Award each participant with an “outdoorsy” Olympic medal—tie a pinecone to a string!
- Make ice sculptures: Fill a clear plastic container with a few inches of water. Add food coloring, stones, and sticks for decoration. Set outside for several hours or overnight to freeze. Add another layer of water and nature “stuff” dyed a different color and allow freezing. Repeat to create multiple layers.
- Take the earth’s temperature: You will need to make sure the ground isn’t frozen for this one. Buy a soil thermometer at a garden supply store and take it with you on a walk around the yard or park. Have your kids stick it in the ground in various locations to compare ground temperatures. Is the ground warmer or cooler than the air? Does the temperature change in different locations?
Scenario #2: It snowed, but not enough for sledding or building.
- Look for tracks. A light snowfall can reveal what animals are around looking for food.
- Go to the playground. You probably have not been there for a while, and kids may enjoy seeing their summer play place sprinkled with snow. Take pictures, so you can compare when spring arrives. Bring along a thermos of cider or hot chocolate.
- Zoom in on nature. Bring a magnifying glass outside to take a close-up look at the frozen foliage.
Scenario #3: The snow has been around for weeks and the kids are tired of sledding.
- Build a miniature luge track. Have the kids use metal spoons to carve parallel tracks in the snow. (Snow that frozen hard is best.) They can race the spoons, rubber balls, acorns, or anything else handy. Kids will have fun trying to create the fastest course!
- Make mini-snowmen out of snowballs. Younger children find making these little people easier than building the standard life-sized snowman. Older kids can spend more time on the details instead of building huge snow creatures. Get the neighborhood involved and create a whole city of mini snow people!
- Think beyond snowmen. Expand snow building to include such things as cars, animals, or favorite sports team logos. Use water with food coloring to “paint” creations.
- Go snowshoeing. Snowshoeing does not require fancy gear when you make your own out of cardboard cutouts, shoeboxes, folded newspapers, or tree branches. Attach to boots with string, rubber bands, or bungee cords and try a trek around your favorite green space.
There are plenty of opportunities to continue getting outside in the wintertime. What is your favorite winter activity to do with your family?