Studies show that getting outside helps children to be more positive, creative, and adaptable (OIA 2019 Outdoor Participation Report), and more importantly, has a strong potential to improve mental health in areas of general wellbeing, resilience, restoration, and cognition (Nature’s Role in Mental Illness: Prevention or Treatment). We believe that the shorter, darker, winter days make getting outside more important than any other time of year.
So what are you waiting for? If it’s cold where you are, bundle your children up, and give some of these ideas for outdoor winter fun a try!
1. Go hiking on your favorite trail with snowshoes or cross-country skis
While you’re on your hike, be sure to keep an eye out for animal tracks. You can use the WinterKids Animal Track Tracker to identify which animals were on your trail. bit.ly/WinterKids-AnimalTracker-Student
2. Build a snow sculpture
Burn some calories and build a sculpture! Be creative! The snow is good for building more than just snow people!
3. Make a snowball target
Make a circle in the snow, and use snowballs to target the circle. The one who hits the circle the most times wins! Of course, be sure to stay out of the way of the thrower!
4. Geocaching is fun in the winter too!
Find out which State of Maine Parks have geocaches at maine.gov/dacf/parks/discover_history_explore_nature/activities/
5. Set up your own winter carnival games
Winter obstacle courses are easy to create. Create a slalom course with ski poles and run through the course. You can also use two buckets & a pole as a hurdle or limbo, and more.
6. Go on an adventure to find a sledding hill
Contact your local school, recreation department or golf course – often, they have a place where you can sled.
7. Create snow paint
Mix poster paint and water to make colorful snow paint! Pour the mixture in a spray bottle or an empty dish soap bottle. If it is well below freezing on your painting day, you may have a problem with the nozzle freezing. Bring a bucket of warm water outside with you and dip the spray bottle top in to keep the paint flowing.
8. Make a snow maze
Shovel snow in paths around your yard to create a fun maze- don’t forget to make some paths dead-ends!
9. Try disc golf on snowshoes or cross-country skis
10. Make an ice luminary
Fill a plastic or cardboard container (like a half gallon milk jug or sand pail) with water. Leave some room at the top for expansion. Add food coloring if desired. Add decorations like pine needles or berries, cranberries or slices of lemon/ orange, etc. Put your container outside to freeze! Once frozen, dip your container in warm water for 30 seconds to allow the ice to easily pop out. Dig a shallow hole in the snow and put an LED votive light in the hole. Rest your ice luminary on top of the hole. The votive “candle” will light the ice!
11. Get an annual WinterKids App Membership
Gain access to all of the great discounts and opportunities we have to offer! We want all children in Maine and New Hampshire to be able to explore and enjoy the outdoors this year. That is why we are asking folks to pay what makes sense for their family. App Memberships are normally priced at $35, but for the 2020/2021 winter season, you can enter any amount when signing up. winterkids.org/winterkids-app
12. Remember, most of the things you do in the summer, you can also do in the winter
Think about your favorite summer activities and adapt them to winter! Find out what’s coming up in your neck of the woods here at winterkids.org!