I woke up to 3″ of snow on the ground, and I’m thinking about how to make sure my children continue to play outside.
Usually, my children entertain themselves outside. They build forts and pile up snow to create high vantage points—and giant snowmen. Sometimes, though, they thrive on a little bit of structure. When I say, “Let’s go outside,” it can take some extra incentive to encourage them to leave their warm cocoons. I can usually get their attention by saying, “Hey, I have a great idea. Let’s play a game.”
Freeze Tag seems like a completely obvious winter game. A lot of other games transfer just fine to winter. You can play Hide and Seek, Kick the Can, Capture the Flag, and most other games you love in the summer. With the addition of some squeeze bottles of colored water, you can add Hopscotch, Tic Tac Toe, and drawing. If you have enough space, you can go Sledding, Cross Country Skiing, or even create your own Rope Tow with your little kids holding on to end of a rope while you drag them screaming and laughing through the yard.
There are a few activities you can do in the winter that you can’t do in the summer. If you need to entice your children with something special, these are a few ideas.
When the temperature goes below freezing point, go outside and blow bubbles. The results are fun and surprising, though it really should be obvious. For bubble solution, just mix water with a little dishwashing liquid. Even big kids love this. My children experiment making bigger and bigger bubbles with string and ropes.
If you have snow, you are surrounded by art materials. Mold it, sculpt it, and build shapes big and small. If you can stand to take your kitchen implements outside, gather up big cookie cutters, cake molds, and big bowls. You can build a foundation with bigger molds and decorate the creation with the cookie cutters. This is a scalable activity that works for very young children as well as for teenagers and adults.
It is getting dark earlier, which means nighttime walks for dogs. Our dogs are part beagle, so they are born to track. They like to chase children. The kids run out of the house first then the dogs follow their trails in and out of the trees. We put red flashing lights on our dogs’ collars, which means we can see them as they run free. The children also carry flashlights on nighttime walks.
These walks are fun enough as they are, but what if you don’t have tracking dogs? You can still play an active nighttime game in the snow. Play a version of tag with flashlights. The person who is IT has their flashlight on. When their light hits someone else, the person lit up is IT. Their light goes on and the first person’s light goes off.
The fun in the game is trying to use the other senses than just seeing. You have to listen carefully. Make sure children know the boundaries. If they are running in the dark, they can run into hazards more easily. We only go out just as it is getting dark rather than in the dead of night.
Don’t forget to have a hot drink ready when your red-cheeked little people come inside. I love hot chocolate, but milk doesn’t love me. We tend to have a pot of spiced cider on the stove most winter weekends. A lot of recipes suggest that you add sugar. Why?! Apple juice is super sweet already. Just add apple juice, orange juice, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves, and you are all set.
Have fun, and Happy Winter!