Brrrr! It’s cold and snowy outside, so that means one thing…winter is officially here! The short days and cold weather usually mean that kids aren’t spending as much time outside. We’re hoping to change that! Kids need time outside in the winter, just as much as they do in the summer. Time spent outdoors during the winter helps their immune system, gets their blood flowing, and helps them get essential nutrients. But sometimes finding things to do in the cold winter months can be tough! We’re always looking for fun new things to do to keep us active, outdoors, and having fun! We’ve put together this HUGE comprehensive ultimate list of 100+ outdoor winter activities for kids!

Special thanks to our Instagram community

These winter fun activities are guaranteed to keep your kids (and you) entertained, learning, and active while outside this winter, whether you have snow or not! These activities have been tried, tested and kid-approved by our followers, editors, writers, and contributors! Plus, all of the photos in the post of kids outside having fun are from our absolutely amazing Instagram community! A very special thanks to all the mamas that let us feature their beautiful images. 

Free printable PDF checklist

While this post will give you all the details and variations for all 100+ outdoor winter activities for kids, if you want a printable checklist version, CLICK HERE to sign up for our newsletter and get a free printable of the list! 

Photo credit: @ourgirlielittlelife

Benefits of spending time outside during the winter

The winter blues are real, and it can be easy to succumb to cabin fever if you’re used to spending time outside. While it may sound warm and cozy to spend the winter months inside your house, you might be surprised at the multitude of mental and physical benefits for children spending time outdoors. It is a common misconception that being outside in cold weather can bring on illness, which is why many parents keep children inside. However, research has shown that’s just not true! As long as kids bundle up and stay safe, being outside in the cold is more beneficial than staying inside. 

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @thejessaddress

One of the biggest health benefits from spending time outside during the winter is the Vitamin D our skin absorbs from the sun. Humans require Vitamin D for bone health and disease prevention. Vitamin D can also help protect against a plethora of diseases. Kids also burn more calories in the cold than in the heat. Our basal metabolic rate – which is the number of calories we burn just by living and sitting still – increases in the cold because our bodies use up more energy to keep warm. Spending time outdoors in the winter can also help with mental health (preventing Seasonal Affective Disorder) and help improve creativity and focus.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @everydaylightwithliza

A bit of extra caution in the winter

While we want your kids to spend as much time outside during the winter as they can, it must be noted that going outdoors in the winter does require preparation and precaution. Dress your children appropriately for the weather in layers. You can always take off a layer if you get too warm, but it is dangerous to be outdoors with not enough protection from the cold. Also remember to bring plenty of water, as water fountains or other water sources may not work in freezing conditions. Another important tip is to know the weather forecast and keep an eye on the sky as you spend time outside. This will help you to avoid getting caught in a winter storm.

It is astonishing what we can gain just from spending time outdoors in the winter. It can help us improve our bodies and our minds. So, if you are feeling restless after long days spent cooped up indoors, get outside, be safe, and have fun!

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @ae_bacz86

100+ outdoor winter activities for kids

The temperature may be dropping, but getting your kids outside should still be a top priority. We’ve worked with our team and online community to put together this giant list of over 100 fun things to do outside with your kids this winter! We’ve got all the traditional winter (and snow) activities, but we’re throwing in dozens more than you may not expect (and don’t need snow to enjoy)! We hope this list will help you learn about nature and plan fun outdoor adventures for your family this winter. And if there’s anything we’ve forgotten, let us know in the comments below, and we’ll get it added!

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit:

1. Ice skating

Winter is such a fun time to try ice skating – particularly at an outdoor rink. There’s something magical about skating outside when it’s frosty cold. Most rinks have rental ice skates for kids as young as two, along with buckets or rails for little kids to hold onto. If your kids are little, we also recommend wearing a bike helmet and super thick gloves to protect kids’ heads and fingers.

2. Frozen colored ice globes

Even if you don’t have snow, you can add some magic and fun to your outdoor space by making colored ice globes. All you need to do is add a few drops of food coloring to the water in a water balloon and let them freeze (either outside or in the freezer). Once frozen, pop the balloon and you’re left with a beautiful ice globe in your color of choice. Take them outside to decorate or play with.

3. Make nature confetti

We’ve all heard the dangers of glitter and want to use less plastic. One way we can incorporate natural elements into our winter celebrations is by making nature confetti from leaves! All you need to do is use a hole-punch to punch out shapes from colorful leaves. Use the punched out shapes (circles, hearts, starts, etc.) to throw in your celebration. If your celebration is outside, there’s no need to clean up. The little pieces of hole-punched leaves will simply biodegrade. One day you’ll see them scattered all around the grass and then a few days later, they’re gone. Start your year (or celebration) off by being conscious of the environment.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @sara_mccarty

4. Frozen suncatchers

Suncatchers made from ice are not only beautiful, but super easy to make! Spend some time outside gathering natural items to use in your suncatchers. The more colorful the better. Examples: branches, berries, twigs, flowers, buds, leaves. Lay out a plastic lid, paper plate, pie plate or silicone mold to use as the mold for your suncatcher. Fill the mold with water and add your natural elements to the water in any design of your choosing. Leave outside for a few hours or overnight to freeze. Gently remove the ice suncatcher from the mold and hang from a tree branch or window sill. Pro tip: Rumor has it that if you want your ice to be crystal clear, boil the water first! For a full tutorial, check out our post on how to make frozen ice suncatchers.

5. Chalk hearts & kindness words

This is a perfect outdoor wintertime activity for kids to do around Valentine’s Day. All you need is some sidewalk chalk and the desire to make others smile. Head to your local park or pick a sidewalk on a favorite street. Have the kids use the chalk and leave words of kindness, love, and encouragement for others. Decorate with hearts or any other designs of their choice.

6. Evergreen identification

Winter is a great time to learn about evergreen trees and how to identify them. Knowing the conifers common to your area is a great educational skill to possess. Kids can learn to identify conifers by their shape and by their needles. While you may think that all evergreens look alike, upon inspection, each of these trees looks very different. You can find printables of different shapes and needles to help you identify the trees in your area. Go on a hike and try to collect as many different varieties as you can (and take a photo of the shape of the tree).

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @this_gr8_kozi_life_

7. Make a snowman

Do you want to build a snowman? We’re not sure if there’s anything more quintessential winter childhood than building a snowman. If your kids are looking for a creative spin on this classic activity, try making a snow animal (bear, cat, dog, penguin) instead.

8. Snow paint

Get creative with your outdoor nature crafts this winter by making some snow paint for your kids. Combine food coloring or watercolor paints with some water and place in a spray bottle. Send your kids out to color the snow in any creative way they’d like! You’ll be surprised by what incredible clever creations they come up with!

9. Lichen hunt

A lichen hunt can be done year-round, but is especially great to do in the winter. Lichen is easy to find nearly anywhere, so get out and explore! Head to a park, local trail or into the woods. Look for lichen on trees, stumps, fallen logs, etc. Talk to your kids about what lichen is, how it’s different than moss, what purpose it serves and where it’s usually found. Then let them find some! Lichen comes in all kinds of varieties, shapes, and colors. Get up close (or take photos), but make sure to leave lichen on living trees alone, as removal may disrupt the ecosystem.

10. Freezing bubbles

Blowing a bubble and watching it turn to ice is such a fascinating activity. If it’s super cold outside (below freezing), try making frozen bubbles! This is a great science experiment for kids in freezing temperatures. It might take a few different attempts to get a bubble to freeze, depending on time, sunlight, what the bubble lands on, and bubble solution. This is an experiment that can last over weeks! Check out our full post on how to make frozen bubbles with kids (which includes a DIY bubble recipe). 

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @thesamfam4

11. Eagle watch

January is prime time to see eagles along rivers and reservoirs. Bald eagles are fascinating to watch! Bald eagles are fierce predators that hunt from high-up perches and hover over water scooping up fish with their talons. They grab what’s been left or dropped by other animals, or outright steal other’s prey. They’re opportunistic feeders, choosing live, fresh or dead animals, whatever is available.  There are lots of places across the US that host “Eagle Days” to celebrate and observe eagles hunting fish in nearly frozen rivers and streams. Many of these festivals include observation stations, conservation programs, and educational nature activities for kids. Check out the resources in your area to find a local eagle watching location near you.

12. DIY Yeti tracks

After you’ve found animal tracks in the snow, why not have some fun creating some of your own! Use heavy cardboard to create oversized yeti footprints. Cut the feet out and attach them to the bottoms of your kids’ snow boots. Head outside and let them create their own yeti tracks in the snow. Create a trail around the yard or neighborhood for others to track. Your kids might be surprised by how they can seem to walk on top of the snow. With a larger surface area, they will sink less, giving walking on snow a whole new feel.

13. Cut down your own tree

There are so many great reasons to choose to cut down your own (or purchase a live) real tree, instead of purchasing a plastic one.  Heading out to the woods or local tree farm is a great way to get some fresh air and exercise. It’s also a fun family tradition you can start and continue doing each year. When you purchase a live tree you’re also supporting a farm that depends on the income from those trees to continue to run. While the trees are growing, they help clean the air we breathe. Once the trees are cut down, they’re replaced with new ones. When they’re in your home, they smell heavenly! If you need tips on what to do before you go tree hunting or how to choose the right tree, we’ve got a great post with tips on cutting down your own tree.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @lizbinder

14. Explore an ice castle

Have you heard of the Ice Castles? The Ice Castles are awe-inspiring, must-see winter phenomenon, each built with hundreds of thousands of icicles that brings fairy tales to life. There are six locations throughout the US and Canada in 2020 (Colorado, Alberta, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Utah). The perfect destination for the whole family to explore. The photos I’ve seen taken there are just spectacular! They’re blue and white and gorgeous by day and lit up in vibrant colors at night. Visiting an ice castle is at the top of my winter bucket list.

15. Plant onions

Winter onions are basically the same as “regular” onions, except they grow in bunches and the flavor is slightly milder. Winter onions can be planted any time the ground can be worked – usually between October and December in most climates – or two to three weeks before the first hard freeze. Plant the onions 2 to 4 inches deep (with 4 to 6 inches between each bulb), in full sun. Water well. The onions are underground and tolerate cold weather. However, a layer of mulch is helpful for overwintering onions in cold, northern climates. Harvest the first winter onions two to three months after planting. When allowed to mature, each bulb usually produces seven or eight bulbs.

16. Animal tracks spotting

Winter is a great time to head out to the woods (or even your local park) and see if you can find animal tracks. Fresh snow is great for showing tracks of various woodland animals. Examples include rabbits, foxes, deer, and squirrels. Make it a game and see who can spot the most tracks, the biggest, the smallest and the most exotic. Try to guess what animal made them, where they were going and what they were doing. Don’t recognize the tracks? Take photos of the tracks and look them up when you get home to see what animal made them.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @nicolecaradonnaphoto

17. Goose lessons

Geese are really fascinating creatures and winter is the perfect time to study their unique habits and leadership skills. Geese begin migrating back North as early as January. Watch the skies for classic V geese formations in the sky. If possible, find a place where you can safely view geese from a distance (without bothering them). Talk to your kids about why geese migrate, where they go and their characteristic flying V formation. This formation is a highly efficient way of flying that creates up to 70% less drag on the geese by picking up the updraft the geese in front of them.

The lead goose expends the most energy, so geese tend to switch out the position and share the responsibilities. Geese are great examples of teamwork, leadership and hard work. Geese also make a lot of noise! Listen to them honk and try to hear the variety of the sounds they make.

18. Snow maze

If you’ve got an untouched patch of snow (a field or a large yard), have the kids create a snow maze! It’s up to them to come up with the parameters, the maze entrance, the obstacles, and the exit. Let them challenge each other to see who can make the hardest maze and see who can finish fastest.

19. Start a winter solstice tradition

The Winter Solstice marks the first day of winter (in the Northern Hemisphere), which is the shortest day and the longest night of the year. Many families adopt traditions for the Winter Solstice that they do every year to get outside and celebrate the change of the seasons, such as candlelight dinners, outdoor picnics and offering trees. Traditions help us remember the past and are wonderful ways to pass love and memories to the next generation. If you’re looking for some fun festive traditions to start with your family to celebrate the Winter Solstice, we have a great post with a few fun and simple ways your family can celebrate the Winter Solstice this year (and every year!).
Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids

20. STEM skier challenge

We love projects that not only get kids outside, but also teach them about nature and science. Setting up a “Winter Sports Ski Challenge” will teach and engage your kids during the winter season. Work with your kids to plan, design, and engineer a skier (from aluminum foil or other material of their choice) that can stand on skis (popsicle sticks) and make it down a slope! Not only will this get kids thinking outside the box about physics, engineering, elements, and design, but it’ll keep them interested, engaged and outside for hours!

21. Skiing/snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding with kids is incredibly exhausting, but so much fun! Pack up your gear and head for the hills to take advantage of all the fun the winter has to offer. If your kids are new to skiing, we highly recommend a lesson or ski school before hitting the slopes. Instructors are usually really great with kids and teach them in a way that’s fun and easy to understand. Once they’ve gotten the hang of it, they can show off their new skills with you.

Here’s a great post with the best tips for getting started downhill skiing with kids

22. Christmas light walk

One of my kids’ favorite holiday activities is to go for a nighttime winter walk through our neighborhood and look at the Christmas lights. I bundle them up, pop them in our little red wagon with a travel mug of hot cocoa, and off we go! We usually only walk around a few blocks, but just being outside at night all alone is so special to them. We always have the best conversations and so much fun on our evening walks.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @young.explorers.vienna

23. Build a nest challenge

Building a nest is a super fun STEM challenge for kids that gets them thinking creatively and applying imagination to science! Making a nest is a great activity for any age. Start by going on a nature walk and collecting items that a bird might like to use to build a nest. Twigs, feathers, leaves, dried grass, pine needles and evergreen branches are all great building materials. Use the dried grass and twigs to make a circular shape. Weave in some feathers and leaves so that there’s a comfortable, padded space for the birds and their eggs. You’ll be surprised how much you learn about the intricacies of nests and how hard it must be for birds to make without hands!

Check out our post filled with nature-inspired outdoor STEAM activities for kids (including nest building)

24. Make snow ice cream

Snow ice cream is one of those special delicacies that every child should experience! It’s a magical mixture of nature, vanilla, sugar and sprinkles! What could be better than that? Our favorite recipe combines 1 cup milk/cream, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tsp vanilla extract, and 8 cups clean snow. Mix all together, adding snow until you get the creamy consistency you want. Then top with sprinkles! Homemade snow ice cream on a cold day can’t be beaten!

25. Maple syrup snow candy

Speaking of delicacies, how about maple syrup snow candy? All you need to make this delicious treat is some pure maple syrup and snow! You’ll need to help your little ones, though, as you first have to heat the syrup before pouring it hot into the snow to solidify. Grown-up supervision is a must. For the full set of directions, check out this awesome maple syrup snow candy post from our friends at Little Bins for Little Hands.

26. Shovel someone’s sidewalk

Around the holidays is a great time to consider doing some acts of kindness to others. If you have kids old enough to help, shovel the sidewalk or driveway of an elderly neighbor or new parents. They’ll not only appreciate the kindness, but hopefully, pay it forward. Check out this post for more outdoor acts of kindness for kids

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @sara_mccarty

27. Go caroling

Caroling is one of my kids’ favorite winter traditions (and one of the cutest). Every year, all the kids on our street go house-to-house and sing 2-3 songs for a donation to give to a local charity. We print off the lyrics of around 10 songs for the kids. Caroling doesn’t have to just be for Christmas! Start a new tradition in February and go caroling for Valentine’s Day! You can serenade your neighbors with silly love songs! Bust out your favorite Disney songs, like Let it Go, Hakuna Matata and Bare Necessities. Some of our favorites for little ones include: Ram Sam Sam, She’ll Be Coming Round the Mountain, You are my Sunshine, Twinkle Twinkle, Ants Go Marching, Baby Shark, Wheels on the Bus and Take Me Out to the Ballgame.

28. Build an igloo

There are so many fun things you can do in the snow. Building a snow fort has to be up there at the very top of awesome winter outdoor activities. Last year my kids built an amazing igloo (with my husband’s help) that they played in for hours and hours over the course of a few weeks (until it melted). They were so incredibly proud of their igloo and had so much fun building it! Always be extra careful not to make it too heavy on top and make sure kids have proper adult supervision.

29. Look for beaver dens

Beavers spend the winter inside their lodges, but you can still find evidence of beavers in the area. Winter is a great time to study how beavers have changed the landscape in your area. A beaver dam is a barrier that stops the flow of water and forms a pond or lake. These new ponds make it easier for beavers to access trees found along the shoreline. Beavers collect logs and branches in a pile to create the dam and then use grass and mud to fill in the spaces in between.

Go for a hike and look out for dams, blocking streams to form ponds and reservoirs. Look for trees missing bark or cut down, from their sharp teeth. Finally, keep your eyes open for beaver lodges. You can tell if beavers are inside a beaver lodge by looking at the very top of the lodge. In the winter, their breath and body heat will rise, which melts the snow at the top of the lodge. Sometimes, if you listen carefully, you can even hear (and smell) the beavers inside!

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @rachelgatesphotography

30. Ice fishing

If you live in an area where ice fishing happens, share this experience with your kids! It’s not something I’ve had the opportunity to every try, but I can only imagine how fun this would be to fish with those tiny poles and pull out a massive fish! This activity is definitely on our family’s bucket list! Make sure you dress warm and go with an experienced angler that knows what they’re doing and how to stay safe.

31. Nature-inspired Valentines

February is the month of love! While lots of kids will be handing out store-bought Valentines (there’s nothing wrong with that), consider making your own this year using items found in nature. Attach a cool rock to a card that says “You Rock, Valentine.” Tie a couple of twigs together to a card that says “Let’s Stick Together.” Or create cards that are little envelopes/pouches for wildflower seeds. Our friends over at Rain or Shine Mama have a fun round-up of 15 nature-inspired Valentine’s Day cards, crafts, and activities.

32. Study snowflakes

There’s nothing more magical in the wintertime than snowflakes! If you’ve ever seen photos of individual snowflakes up close, you know just how truly miraculous and incredible they are. Take some time this winter to study snowflakes with your kids. Talk about how snowflakes are formed, how/why they’re similar, but all unique. Use a piece of black felt to try to catch falling snowflakes to observe and see if you can even photograph them.

33. Make a birdfeeder

Winter is the perfect time to feed your local backyard birds and observe them. There are so many great ways to make simple bird feeders with kids. We’ve got a whole post with 3 simple bird feeders you can make from household items. Set these up in your yard where you can easily observe them from a window and let your kids watch the fun (and drama!) that is backyard birding. Here’s more about how to create a “nature window” where you can observe and learn. Get all the steps in this post on eco-friendly bird feeders to make with kids

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @maakitude

34. Cross-country skiing

Tons of people enjoy cross-country skiing in the winter. I personally have never tried cross-country skiing, so I’m definitely not the right person to tell you how to get started with this activity with your kids. Our friends over at Tales of a Mountain Mama have a great post on how to cross-country ski with kids. I leave you in good hands! Let us know how it goes.

35. Fly a kite

You may think that kite flying is only for summertime, but you’d be wrong! You can fly a kite in any season, and winter is a great time! Winter winds can be chilly, but they also make it easy to fly kites to great heights. Plus, in the dreary weather, the splash of color high in the sky is a beautiful contrast to the gray-white background.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @_anines_

36. Visit a zoo

Winter is a great time to visit your local zoo. The crowds are usually much thinner in the winter and there’s often a discounted admission fee!  There are so many animals that are super active in the winter. Wolves, otters, red panda, snow leopards, cougars, arctic fox, sea lion, and polar bears love the cold weather. Plus, many zoos have penguin walks/parades in the winter and let the penguins get out and explore. Check out all the different ways animals get through the colder months and talk about the differences. There’s a lot to learn in the winter!

37. Turn water into ice

Turning water into ice sounds simple enough, but in the winter, it’s a great educational science experiment. Water freezes at 0 degrees Celcius or 32 degrees Fahrenheit. Challenge your kids to see how long it takes water to freeze into ice at various temperatures throughout the winter months. Try freezing water in various locations around your neighborhood to see if that makes a difference. What about using different containers? On a super cold day, we’ve heard of people throwing a cup of water into the air and watching it freeze instantly!

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit: @kdmsphotography

37. Listen for owls

Owls are very active in winter months, making it the perfect time to listen. Most owls are nocturnal, so you’ll need to find a time and a place to safely get out in the evening for your adventure. Owls use their voices to establish territories and attract mates in the dark. Several species begin nesting as early as midwinter, which is one reason why you can often hear them in fall and winter, when most other birds are quiet. Try to identify the different calls of the Barn Owl, Eastern Screech-Owl, Western Screech-Owl, and Barred Owl. Here’s a great post on getting started owling with kids.

38. Attend a tree lighting

Tree lightings are really fun ways to celebrate the holiday season outside with your community. Lots of cities, towns, neighborhoods, and areas have local tree lightings that you can attend with the kids. Most are outside and are accompanied by a special visitor from the North Pole! Our local community’s tree lighting is adorable and filled with kid-friendly holiday activities. All the kids gather outside city hall and sing Christmas carols until Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive. They come roaring up on a fire truck called the Polar Express! There are lots of booths and stands selling hot chocolate, cookies and donuts and holiday goodies from local shops and vendors. The kids have the chance to get a photo taken with Santa or help decorate a gingerbread house.

39. Garland for the birds

Similar to making a bird feeder, winter garland for birds and woodland animals is super fun and easy for kids to make. There are lots of options for making garland. You could string up popcorn, cheerios, cranberries, pretzels or dried fruits. Consider using slices of dried oranges or apples. You could dip pinecones in peanut butter and roll them in birdseed and hang those on the string.

Outdoor Winter Activities for KidsPhoto credit:

40. Outdoor hot tub

Who says you can’t swim outside in the winter?! If you have the opportunity, let your kids experience the fun of “swimming” (or soaking) in an outdoor hot tub in the winter. There’s something really special about being enveloped in warm water while it’s snowy and cold outside. The contrast is invigorating! Don’t have a hot tub? Make your own! Fill a big bucket, tub, or kiddie pool with warm water and let the littles soak. But as always, use caution and adult supervision. Kids shouldn’t spend very much time in hot tubs at the risk of overheating their small bodies.

41. Make kindness rocks

Making kindness rocks are one of my kids’ favorite activities. I have to admit, I love it too! Any time we have a rainy day or need to stay inside for any reason, I set them to painting kindness rocks. We keep them super simple with brightly colored paint and simple words of kindness such as “hope,” “brave” or “love.” Once we’re back outside, we love taking these rocks to local parks or carefully placing them along hiking trails or walking paths. We hope that they’ll spread kindness and smiles to those that need a little extra love. Check out this post for some great ideas for making kindness rocks with kids

Winter hikingPhoto credit: @e_hawthorne_photography

42. Winter hiking

Hiking in the winter is one of my favorite ways to spend time outside in the cold. Hiking warms us up and gets us active on cold days. We love exploring some of our favorite trails in the winter to see just how different they look/feel. Without all the leaves on the trees, you can usually see really far into the woods and spy lots of awesome things you can’t see in other seasons (bird nests high in the trees, frozen waterfalls, icy creeks, fallen logs, etc.). Get all the details on how to have a great winter nature walk with kids

43. Eat an icicle

Icicles are nature-made popsicles, just hanging there ready for a lick! Let kids be kids and give them the chance to taste an icicle this winter. Be careful getting them down, as they can be very sharp. For extra awesomeness, dip it in sugar!

Antler shed huntPhoto credit: @lindseydennistonphoto

44. Antler shed hunt

Did you know that adult male deer naturally shed their antlers each year? After the rut, decreasing testosterone levels trigger this phenomenon. The deer’s antlers fall off and they grow back a new set of larger antlers in the beginning of spring. This means that late winter (starting around the end of January) is a great time to get out and look for antler shed. You don’t need a hunting license or anything other than permission from the landowner to “shed hunt.” It’s a great family activity that occupies and entertains the kids as you hike through the woods. You can keep antlers as a souvenir or leave them for other animals to enjoy (squirrels, mice and other animals eat them as a source of calcium!).

45. “Recycle” your tree

Once you’re finished with a real Christmas tree, it can often be repurposed. Many cities collect live trees and turn them into mulch or other products. Some conservation departments use trees to create woodland habitats for wildlife. Areas close to beaches and rivers often sink them along areas next to water to help with erosion. We often take our tree to a friend’s pond and sink it to make a habitat for fish and other aquatic wildlife. We go back summer after summer and fish in the spot where we deposited our tree and always catch big ones!

howl at the moonPhoto credit: @roaminggonzalez

46. Howl at the moon

Traditionally, the January full moon was called the “Wolf Moon,” appearing when wolves howled outside the villages in hunger. Celebrate the wolf moon by heading outside and howling at the moon with the kids! Get prepared by reading a book about wolves and/or the moon. We recommend the following moon and wolf books for kids: Full Moon Lore, The Ways of the Wolf, Lessons for the Wolf, and The Wolf Who Ate the Sky.

47. Look for snow fleas

Have you ever seen (or even heard of) snow fleas? According to the Farmer’s Almanac, during warmer periods in the winter, snow fleas can be found speckling the snow and jumping around! But don’t worry, they aren’t really fleas (or insects) at all, they’re totally harmless and actually good for the environment!

These small wingless creatures are classified as hexapods (closely related to crustaceans). They are small (about 2-3 millimeters in length) and blue-black in color. They have a super-powered jumping ability that comes from a sort of tail (called a furcula), which unfolds and launches the snow flea over large distances. Snow fleas come out in the winter, dotting melting snow looking for food. They are an essential component in the ecosystem because they feed on decaying organic matter in the soil, thus helping it to decay faster, turning it into plant food. They live in areas rich in organic materials (like leaf litter) and are common around tree trunks.

You’ll see them on warmer days when the snow melts because snow fleas are rising to the surface of the snow in search of new food sources. You’ve probably encountered thousands of snow fleas in your lifetime without even realizing it. In the summer, they tend to sit on top of rich soil, but because they are so small and dark, most people don’t notice them!

playing in the snowPhoto credit: @kaylasatromphotography

48. Set up a bat house

Speaking of insects, if one of the reasons you love winter is due to the lack of mosquitoes, we’ve got a winter project for you! Use this time to construct and erect a bat house. Bats are amazing creatures. One single bat eats between 6,000 and 8,000 insects per night! Less than 1% of bats carry rabies (far lower than raccoons) and a female bat usually only has one pup per year. Bats need our help to survive. Store-bought bat boxes are generally not very successful. By building a bat box, you are supplying bats with a home so they won’t come looking for shelter in yours! In addition, you’ll get less-buggy evenings to spend outside without spraying down your kids with toxic chemicals. It’s definitely a win for all. Check out this awesome post if you want more info on building a bat box with kids.

49. Plan your garden

If you’re anything like me, the minute I rip out my garden in the fall, I start getting excited about what I’ll plant in the spring! Winter is a great time to really do your research and come up with a great garden plan. Think about what worked last year, what you’ll do differently and how to maximize your growing space. Get those seed catalogs ordered and map out your area. Winter is also the time to prep your garden beds and get them ready for spring planting. Add compost and/or fall leaves for some extra protection and nutrients. Don’t forget to get the kids involved in prep and planning. The more involved they are in the process, the more likely they are to help out in the summer and eat the fruits of their hard work! 

Read our full post on winter garden planning with kids

50. Valentine’s heart walk

Love (actually) is all around! All you have to do is look for it! A great outdoor activity to do around Valentine’s Day is go on a heart walk. Whether you’re walking around your neighborhood, through town or into the woods, if you keep your eyes open for hearts, you’ll be surprised how many you can find! From heart-shaped rocks and leaves to heart-shaped knots on trees and everything in between! Go on a hunt for as many heart-shaped objects as you can find. Bring along a camera and take photos of each. Winner gets a prize at the end of the walk! Maybe a nice heart-shaped piece of chocolate!

Read our full post on nature heart hunt with kids

Make evergreen teaPhoto credit: @muse_framed

51. Make evergreen tea

Winter months often bring sickness, coughs, and flu to families. It’s more important than ever to make sure you’re all getting plenty of fresh air, sunshine, exercise, and vitamins during these long cold months. One way to get all of these things is to forage pine needles to make your own evergreen tea!

For generations, pine needle tea has been consumed by indigenous peoples as a decongestant, expectorant, and antiseptic wash. Pine needles have up to five times more vitamin C than freshly squeezed orange juice. While the majority of pine trees are fine for consumption, make sure you steer clear from the following: Common Yew (Taxus), Norfolk Island Pine (Araucana Heterophylla), Ponderosa Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Shore Pine, and Monterey Cypress.

To make pine needle tea, gather at least 1 cup of fresh pine needles. Thoroughly wash the needles with clean, cool water. Chop the needles into small pieces and remove any brown portions. Next, bring 3 cups of water to a rolling boil then add needles to the water. Remove the saucepan from the heat and cover. Allow the tea to steep for at least 20 minutes. Increase potency by allowing the tea to steep overnight. This results in a deep, reddish-brown color as a higher concentration of compounds were leached into the water. Pour the tea through a strainer to remove the pine needles. Sweeten the tea with honey or agave nectar. Add freshly squeezed lemon to enhance the flavor. Enjoy!

52. Colored icicles

If you’re looking for a really cool outdoor STEM activity to do in the winter, try making colored icicles! There are a few different ways to do this, but we love the idea of attaching yarn to small water bottles filled with different colored water and letting it drip down the yarn to created mixed color masterpieces. You can hang the water bottles from your house, on a fence or even off a ladder. Check out both those posts for two different takes on a really cool (literally!) experiment and try it yourself with your own spin!

Night hikePhoto credit: @melisdawn80

53. Night hike

Because it gets dark so early in the winter, it’s a great time to consider a night hike with kids! Give each child a lantern, flashlight or headlamp and head out on a local well-known trail around dusk. As it gets dark, your eyes will adjust to the dark and you’ll start hearing different sounds. Hopefully, you’ll also be able to see the stars in the sky and hear an owl hoot or coyote howl. Hiking at night adds a whole new layer of excitement to a normal hike. But make sure to stay extra safe when night hiking in the winter. Always stay on the trail and make sure someone knows where you’ll be and when you’ll be back.

54. Make a percussion wall

If you’re looking for a way to spice up your backyard to keep the kids outside and entertained, consider adding a percussion wall. It’s super easy to make a DIY percussion wall for kids with items that can be found around the house. If you have a fence or empty wall, all you need to do is hang some “noisy” items on it to create a masterpiece that will keep the kids making music for hours. Add pots, pans, silverware, pipes, rattles, wind chimes, colanders, plates, cookie sheets, hubcaps or anything else you want! Then give the kids a drumstick or spoon and let them create!

55. Collect maple sap

Have you ever considered tapping a maple tree? The whole concept of tapping maple trees, collecting sap, and creating your own syrup is something that fascinates me! For hundreds of years, residents of the North American continent have tapped holes in maple trees in late winter. They’ve collected the sweet sap that flows through the trees as the days warm above freezing, and boiled it down into pure maple syrup. Last year we bought a couple of taps, hoses, and buckets to give this a try in our backyard. We didn’t collect enough to make much syrup, but the process was fascinating and definitely taught us a lot about foraging and where our food comes from. If you want to know more, we have a great post on Tapping Trees & Making Maple Syrup with Kids.

Night hikePhoto credit: @jen.aquila

56. Build snow castles

Sandcastles are all the rage in the summer, but building snow castles can be just as much fun! Get out your sandcastle-building equipment (cups, bowls, shovels, etc.) and do the same in the snow! Create elaborate castles with moats and leaf flags. Bring out the army men, Barbies, or characters and make an entire town. Add some colored water to give it a whole new look! There are so many fun things to build in the snow.

57. Go ice bowling

Keep your kids outside and occupied for hours with ice bowling! All you need are 10 water bottles and a balloon. Fill all the water bottles with colored water and place them outside or in the freezer to freeze solid. Leave room at the top or leave the lid off to give the water room to expand as it freezes so it doesn’t distort the bottom of the bottle, keeping them from standing upright on a flat surface. Fill a round balloon with water and freeze to make a round bowing ice ball. Once it’s all frozen solid, take outside and set up a bowling lane! The bottles are the pins and the ice water balloon is the ball. Teach your kids how to keep score and it becomes an educational math activity as well!

58. Snow cake for animals

Everyone loves cake…even animals! But while deer, squirrels and birds probably shouldn’t be eating cakes made from sugar and flour, they can eat cakes made of snow, fruits and veggies for the animals! Head out to a field or choose a spot near the woods where animals will be sure to find it. Use the snow to make a big cake on the ground and decorate it with birdseed, carrots, apples, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables. The animals will be grateful for your generosity.

SleddingPhoto credit: @hikingtheglobewithkids

59. Sledding

Sledding is a quintessential outdoor winter activity for kids of all ages! All you need is snow, a sled and a hill to have some exhilarating outdoor fun! Dress the kids appropriately for the weather and they can stay outside sledding for hours! The thrill of speeding down a hill on a sled is invigorating! Plus, trudging back up the hill a hundred times is sure to get them all the exercise and fresh air they need to sleep very well through the night!

60. Host an outdoor playgroup

Sometimes getting the kids outside in the cold weather is easier if they’ve got someone to play with. Hold yourself more accountable for getting outside by creating or hosting an outdoor playgroup. Invite some families with kids the same ages as yours and pick a time, place and outdoor activity to do. Knowing that others are counting on you makes it more likely that you’ll get outside. Plus, having friends around makes it much more enjoyable for kids, so they’ll likely spend more time outside and less time whining.

61. Winter scavenger hunt

Scavenger hunts are fun outdoor activities for kids that can be enjoyed year-round, no matter what the season. Winter scavenger hunts are extra fun for kids because so much can be seen and observed outside without the leaves on the trees. The barren landscape provides a new element in the hunt and an extra challenge. Winter scavenger hunts focus on items that can be found outside in the colder months. You can find a lot of examples on Pinterest (this is a good one) or make your own. Include things like pinecones, acorns, animal tracks, frozen puddles, feathers, evergreens, etc. We also have a Neighborhood Scavenger Hunt that can be done at any time of year.

Build a fortPhoto credit: @danaphillipsphoto

62. Build a fort

Cooler and colder temperatures do not mean the fort building has to stop. For many of you in the warmer climates, it’s actually the best time of year to head to the woods to build some forts! The risk for snake encounters goes down, the ticks die off and so do the mosquitoes! There are so many options for building forts, including eco-friendly options. Our favorite ways include finding long sticks and piling them up to make a giant teepee type structure or lining them up against a fallen tree to make a shelter inside. Here’s a great post on how to build an eco-friendly winter fort with kids.

63. Go snowmobiling

If you live in an area where you’ve got lots of snow, we highly recommend a snowmobile ride! There’s nothing quite like zipping across the snow to get your heart racing! Snowmobiles can be rented for the day or even by the hour. Lots of rental places offer safety lessons and guided tours, for those not familiar with the area or machines. Snowmobiles will give you access to incredible places you couldn’t otherwise get to. Snowmobiling is a fun outdoor winter activity for the whole family.

Visit a ski townPhoto credit: @lminor17

64. Visit a ski town

If you’re in an area where you can visit a local ski town or ski resort, make sure to get outside and explore! Ski towns offer many fun outdoor winter activities for kids and families to do outside in the winter months. From walking around town and window shopping to tubing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, bonfires, skiing, and more!

65. Flashlight tag

It’s dark so early in the winter, so use that to your advantage. Burn some energy after dark with a game of classic flashlight tag. This fun game mixes hide and seek with tag and is played in the dark. The person who is “it” waits at home base counting to a high number while everyone else hides. Then, armed with a flashlight, this person searches for the others who may be switching hiding spots. The flashlight must remain on at all times and may not be covered. When “it ” spots someone, s/he must use the flashlight to get a close enough look at the person to identify him or her and call out that person’s name (who then becomes “it”)!

Attend a winter festivalPhoto credit: @expat.adventures

66. Attend a winter festival

No matter where you live, there are usually opportunities to attend winter festivals. Many towns and cities have winter festivals to celebrate everything from winter activities to winter harvests, winter holidays, and active winter animals. Lots of winter festivals have both indoor and outdoor activities and are family-friendly. Enjoy shopping from local vendors and taste delicious food from local bakers. Check out the activities in your area and find a fun winter festival to attend with the kids.

67. DIY wildflower seed bombs

Wildflower seed bombs are super easy to make, great for the environment, and make lovely gifts (perfect for Valentine’s Day). They are easy enough for kids to make in under an hour and good for the birds, bees, and butterflies in your area. They only require a few ingredients and have the added benefit of letting kids get their hands really messy! Make them and let your kids “bomb” the neighborhood once the snow melts. Or give them as homemade eco-friendly gifts to teachers, neighbors, family, and friends. Everyone will love watching the bombs grow into a beautiful patch of colorful wildflowers. Check out our full post on DIY wildflower seed bombs for all the instructions.

68. Go sightseeing

Winter is a great time to go explore a new city/town, a natural attraction, or a state or national park! Sightseeing in the winter is great because crowds are usually smaller and lots of companies are running winter deals. Everyone has a different goal when it comes to winter vacations. Some want to ski or savor all that goes with a snowy environment: cozy fireplaces, hot cocoa, crisp air, and white-capped mountains.  Others want to and swim in warm tropical waters and soak up the sunshine. Whatever your goal, look at taking a winter trip with the kids and exploring a new location. Here’s a great post from Travel + Leisure about the best US cities for winter travel.

Host an outdoor family happy hourPhoto credit: @smallstories_fotografia

69. Host an outdoor family happy hour

We love the idea of hosting an outdoor winter party for families. Cover your summertime lawn furniture with buffalo check plaid tablecloths and lots of warm snuggly blankets. Make a centerpiece of evergreen branches, holly, and pinecones. Set up a smores station around a bonfire, with hot chocolate for the kids and mulled wine for the adults. Add some twinkle lights around the location and you’re all set for a fun and festive outdoor event!

70. Winter word hunt

Similar to a scavenger hunt, try doing a winter word hunt with your kids.  This fun winter outdoor activity combines education with exploration. Learning outdoors is active and increases students’ physical, mental, and social health. Outdoor education and play support emotional, behavioral, and intellectual development. Most children learn better by using their senses, and outdoor environments provide wonderful hands-on experiences in nature. Check out our Winter Word Scavenger Hunt post for more details on this fun activity.

71. Go geocaching

Geocaching is a fun outdoor activity for kids no matter what the season. As long as your location isn’t buried under tons of snow, geocaching is a great way to get outside and explore during the cold winter months. Geocaching is basically treasure hunting, with the GPS on your phone as a guide. Caches can be found nearly anywhere these days and kids have a blast finding them! Bring along a few trinkets to trade and mark them down as a smiley! If you need more info, we’ve got a great post on how to get started geocaching with kids.

Visit a botanical gardenPhoto credit: @misskyleejo

72. Visit a botanical garden

Winter is a great time to explore your local botanical gardens. In the winter months, you’ll find fewer crowds, lovely lawns, and gorgeous greenery. Botanical gardens usually expand for miles both outdoors and in, with well-maintained paved trails, so they are a wonderful place to spend a chilly winter afternoon. Most gardens even have special exhibits that rotate through the winter months, so there is always something new to see. And if you are tired of the cold weather and need some warmth and some pretty plants, lots of botanical gardens have lovely indoor greenhouses filled with lush warmth and color! It feels great to enjoy the warm, humid greenhouses on a cold harsh winter day.

73. Make colored ice blocks

Most educational resources will tell you how important it is for kids to learn how to play with simple blocks. We definitely agree, but we want to put our own twist on it by taking it outside! And in the winter, why not make ice blocks for building for an even more enjoyable experience? All you need to do is freeze water in various size containers. Make small blocks using ice cube trays and larger ones using Tupperware. Add a few drops of food coloring to the water to make colored ice blocks. Pop them all out of their containers on the ice-cold sidewalk and let the kids get creative!

74. Socks & mitten experiment

If your house is anything like ours, you’ve probably got a dozen pairs of mittens/gloves scattered throughout your house and probably only half of them have matches. Some of the gloves are fine, some only work for a short amount of time outside before they get wet and cold, some are too big/small. Why not turn your haphazard mitten situation into a science experiment!?

Test the gloves/mittens in all different scenarios to see which ones withstand the cold and keep your hands warm. Take them outside and try them in the cold. Put your gloved hands in ice (or ice water) and see how long it takes before you feel the cold. Talk about the difference between fingered gloves and mittens (which keeps your fingers warmer). Not only will this teach children about proper insulation and the importance of wearing gloves outside, but you’ll know which ones they like, which ones you can pitch, and which ones work so you know what to buy next year!

Winter photography challengePhoto credit: @kylieraephotography_

75. Winter photography challenge

Two of my biggest passions are exploring the outdoors and photography. I love it when these two come together in one fun activity for kids. Winter is a great time to give them a camera (handheld or phone) and see what they can capture. You can either make a list of winter items to photograph or let them choose what to capture on their own. There’s a lot of beauty in the cold winter months and this activity forces you to actively look for it. Consider photographing things like snowflakes on colorful leaves, winter shadows, frost on leaves and grass, frozen berries, patterns in lichen or bark, fog, ice puddles, and animal tracks.

76. Make wind chimes

Making windchimes with kids is a fun and easy activity for kids to do any time of year. Last winter we made windchimes from driftwood and shells we found on our beach vacation. We drilled small holes in the shells and then hung them from a long piece of driftwood with twine. We also dangled a few pieces of driftwood so they’d all knock together in the wind and remind us of the beach. Other fun natural elements to add or use for windchimes are pinecones, sticks, sea glass, rocks. To make them extra fun and musical, add bells, old utensils, CDs, beads, or cans. Feel free to make wind chimes out of anything you can find! It’s fun to let kids choose their own items and discover what makes noise and what doesn’t.

77. Outdoor luau

Just because it’s chilly outside doesn’t mean you can’t have a Tikki party! Break out the hula skirts and lais – layer them over your down coats for extra color this winter! Host an outdoor luau with a traditional bonfire and warm(er) versions of your favorite summer drinks and frozen fruit kabobs! Set up the slip-n-slide for the kids and let it cover over with ice. Fill up a baby pool with snow for the little ones. Play Hawaiian music and dream of warmer summer days ahead!

Hand-feed chickadeesPhoto credit: @romana_zackova

78. Hand-feed chickadees

Did you know that you can train chickadees and nuthatches to eat out of your outstretched hand? It’s truly amazing and all it takes is a bit (ok, a lot) of patience and determination. If you want an incredible experience this winter, this is definitely one to work towards. Start by filling a bird feeder with black-oil sunflower seeds, which is the food of choice for small birds.

Once chickadees start visiting your feeder, stand about ten feet away and watch them for 10 minutes a day for a few days. Every day, while their eating, move just a bit closer. In time, the birds won’t mind, particularly if you make “pish” noises. Next, take away the feeder and fill a bowl with the sunflower seeds. Hold this with your hand in the place where the feeder was and do NOT move! The birds will eat out of the bowl. After a few days of doing this, try using your open hand. Soon, the chickadees will be eating straight out of your hands! It’s an incredible feeling!

79. Set up a birdbath

Birds need water to drink and bathe in. However, during the winter months, water sources often freeze, leaving the birds high and dry (literally). If you have the means and the location, consider setting up a year-round bird bath for our feathered friends. You’ll need to add a small heater to keep the water from freezing in the winter. And consider a way for the water to flow. Flowing water attracts birds, keeps water fresh and also helps prevent it from freezing.  This may be a bit of an investment, but the birds will love you for it!

80. Decorate outside with twinkle lights

You certainly don’t have to celebrate Christmas to enjoy the fun and beauty of twinkle lights. Early darkness means that kids have fewer hours of daylight to spend outside playing. Take the opportunity to turn their favorite outdoor play location into a magically-lit space for evening play. Use twinkle lights to brighten up playground equipment and swing set in your backyard. String them through the trees where they play fairies. Decorate their clubhouse. Place them around the fence that borders the kickball field. Transform the places they love to play into something magical and beautiful with twinkle lights that keep them outside longer.

Park playground gamesPhoto credit: @littletreatsphotographycalgary

81. Park playground games

If it’s snowy and/or muddy outside and you’re not in the mood to track through the muck and get filthy, consider a playground. Most local parks have some sort of outdoor playground equipment that can be enjoyed no matter what the season or weather. You’ll likely have it all to yourselves, which makes it the perfect place to play games. My kids love playing Follow the Leader on playgrounds. They take turns being the leader and lead each other through a maze of playground equipment, doing silly and challenging things. For example, they love walking across the swings without touching the ground, climbing up the slides, and leaping from thing to thing. Check out our post for even more ideas of park playground games for kids.

82. Go on a sleigh ride

Do a little research and see if you can find a place near you to take the kids on a real-life horse-drawn sleigh ride. There are lots of places these days that offer sleigh rides, through the woods, in parks, on local farms or through conservation areas. If you don’t have snow or you’re in the city, try a horse-drawn carriage ride! Our local parks offer carriage rides through a winter wonderland of twinkle lights in all size carriages. Some are huge and can fit large groups and some are small and intimate. One even looks like Cinderella’s pumpkin carriage. A sleigh ride outdoors through the crisp air, while you’re bundled up in blankets is a thrill! It’s something super special and unique that doesn’t happen every day. It’ll be a winter memory that will last a lifetime.

Outdoor tic-tac-toePhoto credit: @racheldayphotography

83. Outdoor tic-tac-toe

Playing tic-tac-toe outside in the winter is so much fun for kids. There are a variety of ways you can set up a game outdoors. Use 4 large sticks to create a board and then use colored water in spray bottles to designate your X or O marking. Or use pinecones for Os and 2 sticks to make Xs. You can do the same even if you don’t have snow in your area. Play on a picnic table with rocks and sticks. Or play in the driveway.

84. Pinecone dissection

Winter is the perfect time of the year to examine evergreen branches and pinecones. Gather your science tools, a few evergreen branches, and some pinecones and get started examining and observing. Use your tools (tweezers, knife (with supervision) and microscope) to examine a pinecone and dissect it. Discuss how pinecones are the fruit of the tree and inside are seeds. Break or cut them open to observe. Feel the textures and smell them. Explore further by measuring, snipping, shaking and observing the pinecones in different scenarios (e.g. do they float?).

Paint your windowsPhoto credit: @susan.grimes

85. Paint your windows

While technically an indoor activity, this is one that is worth including on the list. The house I grew up in had a series of large picture windows. Every winter, my mom would let each kid decorate a window any way they wanted. I usually chose colorful paints and created a bright scene on my window. It was such a simple thing, but something I looked forward to every year. Now, I let my 2 big kids each decorate one of the glass doors in our home. We use washable paint, dry erase markers, and gel clings. They’re always so incredibly proud of their designs. A few weeks later (when the paint’s chipping), I wash it all off and we do it again the following year.

86. Outdoor exercise

Get outside and active this winter by exercising outdoors. Kids love and need to get physical, especially in winter months when illnesses are prevalent and they tend to spend more time indoors. Tons of local parks have exercise stations around them or places where you can exercise outside. These stations include: pull-up bars, incline benches for situps, stretches, and push-ups. Even if you don’t have access to these park stations, you can easily create your own outdoor exercise routine and get your kids involved. Include exercises that they can easily do, like sprints, jumping jacks and frog jumps! 

Read our full post on exercising outdoors with kids.

outdoor winter activitiesPhoto credit: @siesta_makes

87. Explore a frozen creek

If you know me at all (or have been reading this website for any length of time), you know I’m a bit obsessed with playing in creeks. Exploring a creek in the winter can be just as much fun as it is in the summer. Wintertime creekbeds are really fun for kids to check out. There’s all kinds of things to do and look for. My kids love throwing rocks (splashing, skipping or using them to break the ice), using sticks to flip over rocks, searching for minnows and crawdads and stomping through frozen puddles. Always make sure kids are accompanied by an adult and keep them out of deep water areas. Dress appropriately and always make sure to have a change of dry clothes nearby!

88. Visit a national park

One of the best ways to get outside and explore when the temperature drops is by visiting a National Park or Monument. If you’re an outdoor enthusiast who loves to explore but prefers to avoid crowds, visiting National Parks in the winter helps you do that and more. There are so many great National Parks that are just as wonderful (if not even more so) in the winter months. We love this post by Bearfoot Theory on the best national parks to visit in the wintertime.  Their list includes a few parks that are brutally hot in the summer, but lovely in the winter, such as Death Valley, Everglades, Joshua Tree, Petrified Forest and Gulf Islands National Seashore. And a few parks that are just spectacular with a dusting (or more) of snow, such as Arches, Grand Tetons and Great Basin.

outdoor winter activitiesPhoto credit: @blueberryhillimages

89. Make snow angels

Making snow angels is a quintessential wintertime childhood outdoor activity. This activity needs no real explanation or instruction, but there are a few things you can do to make it more fun for kids. After the make the snow angel, let them decorate them! It’s really funny to see hollow snow angels on the ground with pinecones for eyes, sticks for hair, and a red berry mouth!

90. NYE sunset countdown

Celebrate the end of the year with kids by watching nature’s very own ball drop – the sunset. Gather with friends and family on the last day of the year and watch the sunset together. Share stories of the highlights of the year and feel free to share goals or make predictions for what the new year will bring. The sunset usually happens early enough for kids of any age to enjoy it without throwing off bedtime. It’s a lovely way to end the outside and in nature.

91. Make a winter mandala

Making a nature mandala is a wonderful activity to do any time of year. In its simplest form, a mandala is a circular structure with a design that radiates out symmetrically from the center. You can find natural mandalas in flowers, tree rings, the sun, eyes, snowflakes, spider webs, seashells, seeds, fruits and more. There is no right or wrong way to make one which is why it is such a wonderful way to engage children to make their own mandalas using items they find in nature.

Go for a walk or hike and collect items to use in your winter mandala. Choose a location to start making it and let the children’s imaginations create something beautiful! This is a great time to discuss symmetry and shapes, but don’t push them too hard to stick to any hard and fast rules. Creativity wins the day. We’ve got a great post on making nature mandalas with kids if you want to read more about this fun activity.

outdoor winter activitiesPhoto credit: @rachelpeacephotography

92. Have a bonfire

I’m pretty sure I’ve recommended having a bonfire and roasting marshmallows in every seasonal activity guide we’ve published. That’s because this is a timeless activity that can be done in any season and is always a hit. S’mores taste extra great when it’s cold outside and winter bonfires have the added bonus of warming your hands and backsides! Gather some firewood and those you love and spend some time outside together around a fire on a cold and dark evening. Sharing songs and memories around a campfire is such a simple and beautiful experience for families. It makes kids feel incredibly special to be part of it, to listen and participate. 

Find out more about the 5 S’s of making a successful bonfire with kids

93. Practice fire safety skills

And while you’re at it with the bonfire, let your kids be a part of setting it up. Safely building a fire is one of those imperative skills that every adult should know. But we often overlook how beneficial it is for children to know about fire safety and how to properly handle a fire. Because fire is inherently dangerous, I believe kids should learn about it at an early age. With the proper instruction and supervision, kids learn a healthy respect for fire, and with early and frequent exposure, the thrill and mystique of fire wears off. It becomes simply a useful tool, as opposed to something mysterious and forbidden which they can’t resist the urge to explore in secret. 

Here’s a great post on how to teach kids how to build campfires and fire safety tips for kids

Explore a beachPhoto credit: @dayslikethisphotos

94. Explore a beach

Beaches in the wintertime are magical places. While the cooler temperature makes the water a bit too cold for swimming, there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy doing at the beach during the cooler winter months. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend some time shelling. For the best shelling, arrive at the beach at the earliest low tide, when the water recedes uncovering thousands of shells. Shells are especially abundant after winter storms stir up the ocean water. Bring along some binoculars to spot all sorts of birds and marine life, from crabs and live sand dollars to dolphins. Look for a place where the sand is dotted with rocks and branches so that the water get’s trapped when the tide is low and you will find many critters in these small tidepools. 

Read more about finding sea glass with kids

95. Frozen water beads

Water beads are a really strange, yet super fun sensory activity for kids. Most people only play with water beads in the summer, but there’s no reason you can’t break them out in the winter, too! Take them outside and see if they stick/freeze to objects? Or freeze them (you can put them on a cookie sheet in the freezer) and use them in outdoor games, like marbles.

96. Play Red Rover

Red Rover is a classic childhood game that is tons of fun to play in the winter when everyone is bundled up and layered with protection! All you need are two teams (the more kids, the better!) and a large open space (a grassy field is perfect). The kids are divided up evenly between teams and stand, facing each other, a good distance apart. The first team to go decides who they want to “send over” and then they yell, “Red Rover, Red Rover, send Janie right over!” At this point, Janie has to leave her team and run toward the other group, who are holding hand. She has to try to break through their barrier.

The more momentum and speed she has, the better. If she makes it through, she gets to choose a person from the opposing team to go back to her team. If she doesn’t get through, she becomes a new member of that team. The group with the most kids after how-ever-many rounds wins!

Have a sword fightPhoto credit: @rubkowa

97. Have a sword fight

Kids don’t need anything but a stick to be completely entertained! But how often do we (parents) interfere with their love sticks because we’re afraid they’ll get hurt? I want you to try giving your kids permission (even if just for one cold winter day) to use those sticks to have the most epic winter sword fight of all time! Let their imaginations run wild as they battle against evil knights and bandits. Give them the chance to learn how to play with sticks safely by allowing them to explore and test the boundaries. Let them play!

98. Bonfire cinnamon rolls

Making a bonfire is already on the list, but let’s take it up a level. Cinnamon rolls on the bonfire are a fun delicacy. All you need is a tube of store-bought cinnamon rolls and a few long sticks. Wrap a cinnamon roll around the stick and let the kids roast them in the fire. Don’t forget to rotate them and practice proper fire safety. They cook up nice and puffy and (once cooled enough to handle), you can pop them off the stick, dunk them in icing and enjoy! 

Here’s a great post filled with even more delicious foods and meals that you can make over the campfire

99. Candy cane hunt

A candy cane hunt is a really fun way to get your kids outside, exploring and active. All you need is a box of candy canes (as many as you want) and a place to hide them that your kids can safely explore. Take a few minutes to hide them all (hang in trees, on bushes, stick in the ground, etc.) in various locations and at different heights (for different kids). Then let the kids go and see how many they can find. If you have kids of different ages, consider giving them each a section of space to find the candy canes or hide candy canes of different colors for each child. Once they’re all found, start again! Hide them in new places or let the kids take turns hiding them for each other.

Snowball target practicePhoto credit: @jessicaklinephotography

100. Snowball target practice

Nothing thrills my oldest child like introducing some competitiveness to any activity we do. Making snowballs is all fun and games, but having a snowball fight is better. He tends to get a bit aggressive with the snowballs, so instead, we do target practice. All you need to do is draw a bullseye target on a large piece of cardboard, poster board, a box or even the side of the house or a fence. All the kids will need to make their own snowballs of various sizes, shapes, and densities (consider it a STEM activity). Then line the kids up and let them take turns hitting the target. Have them keep score and the winner gets a prize!

101. Winter slip & slide

Turn your slip-n-slide into an instant sledding hot spot! Get your money’s worth all year round by breaking out the slip-n-slide this winter. If you have time (and kids that are old enough to handle it), spray it lightly with the hose the night before your big sled party. This will create a thin layer of ice on it, which means extra speed and slickness when sledding. (We haven’t actually tried this at home yet, so proceed at your own risk!)

102. Find winter constellations

Cold (and early) dark winter nights are the perfect time to teach kids about the constellations. Stargazing is a great outdoor winter activity for kids. In the winter, there are six constellations that you can usually find in the night sky: Orion, Taurus, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Gemini, and Aurigo. These constellations are known as the “Winter Six.” Print out a copy of the winter six constellations and see who can find them first. If you need extra help, try the Sky View app.

Play flag footballPhoto credit: @kirschkerne

103. Play flag football

My son recently joined a peewee flag football team that plays games outside during the winter months. Snow and rain don’t slow these kids down, either. They love playing outside and barely feel the cold. It’s much more brutal on the fans and families than the players, but it’s a great way to spend some good quality time outside in the winter and get lots of exercise. If you can, organize a game of flag football for your kids and their friends. The rules are (relatively) simple (basic football rules with no tackling) and you don’t need much other than a ball, a few “flags” (pieces of an old cloth also work) and a place to play! Game on!

104. Hibernation hunt

There are lots of animals that hibernate through the cold winter months. We all know about bears and immediately think of them in dark caves. However, chipmunks, bats, turtles, snakes, hedgehogs, frogs, skunks, and prairie dogs all hibernate as well. Studying hibernation is a great wintertime activity. Pair your study with a hibernation habitat hunt (or hike) and let the kids look for places they think animals might hibernate. Look for dens, burrows or hollowed-out tree trunks. This is more of an i-spy activity and identifying potential habitats. Stay away from any place you think might be housing an animal, as we don’t want to disturb any hibernating animals.

105. Snow day photoshoot

While most families choose to have family photos taken in the fall, winter is another great time! Why not ask your photographer about scheduling a “snow day” photoshoot on the first snow of the season? Dress everyone up in adorable winter wear and get some action shots of all of you making a snowman, having a snowball fight, sledding or skating. Creative family photos are always so much fun. Incorporating a fun activity will take the pressure off getting the perfect posed shot and create memories along the way.

babies in winterPhoto credit: @nina.bogomaz

106. Car camping

Don’t let winter keep you from camping and enjoying the outdoors. Winter is a great time to car camp! Basically, car camping is camping with your vehicle. You can “car camp” anywhere that you can drive up to in your car, truck, or van. While car camping can also mean literally sleeping in your car, that’s not a requirement. The key is that you arrive to your campsite in your vehicle and keep your vehicle onsite, which allows you to carry more essentials than a backpacking trip or somewhere you don’t have access to your car. This means you can bring all the things to keep you toasty warm when camping in cooler weather. Read all about tips for winter car camping with kids

107. Winter adventure chores

This time of year can be hard to get outside with kids. So, why not use this season of staying warm and close to home to clean, prep, and maintain your gear for your upcoming adventures. This post contains a list of winter chores for kids that help them prepare for their next hiking, biking, or camping adventure. A little gear maintenance, organization, restocking, and preparing will go a long way in getting your family out the door quicker when the weather warms up! 

108. Winter photo scavenger hunt

Grab your camera and get outside for a fun winter photo scavenger hunt. In order to make this fun for kids in both snowy and no-snow conditions, we created two different versions of the winter photo scavenger hunt for kids. The first scavenger hunt printable is a “Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt” – this is perfect for a chilly winter day where it is absolutely fine if there is no snow on the ground. The kids can find things like a brown leaf, an evergreen branch, and a pinecone. The second photo scavenger hunt printable is a “Snowy Day Winter Photo Scavenger Hunt.” This one is great for adventures outside when the snow has covered the ground. Children can search for a snow shovel, icicle, and a snowball. This activity also opens up opportunities for your child to make a snow angel and snowman too! Get the winter photo scavenger hunt printables here. 

What are your favorite winter outdoor activities for kids?