Library buildings are open to the public. Access our Digital Library 24/7. A list of Helplines & Crisis Resources is available.

Let’s go outside! Wintertime play & activities for everyone

Posted on December 17, 2020 at 6:00 am

By Abra Cole

Winter officially starts next week on December 21. This fall, we’ve already had below freezing temperatures and snow. And in the months ahead, we can expect even more snowy days and below freezing cold.

I propose the following idea: there is no reason to shelter inside until spring!

As the Norwegians say: “Det finnes ikke dårlig vær, bare dårlig klær!” That translates to “There is no bad weather, only bad clothes!”

What a great saying. Certainly, this concept can be more easily discussed than implemented, particularly with small children to bundle up. But it is also absolutely worth remembering during our chilly Spokane winters. Because I’m here to tell you, if you’re wearing your long underwear, snow pants, wool socks, winter boots, heavy jacket, hat, mittens, and scarf, it really can be enjoyable outside!

Despite the chill, spending time outdoors has been proven beneficial for all ages.

Do you have young people in your life? Most kids don’t seem to mind slightly frozen noses or toes, and if they do struggle, starting a daily routine of outside time now is a good way to instill the importance of spending time outdoors—a love that can continue throughout their entire lives. 

Do you need more motivation to get out there? Here is a list of some fun ideas to inspire you to get out into the great outdoors, in any weather. I’ve paired some fun picture books to read for further discussion with the kids in your life, before or after your excursions (consider reading them even if there are no small children in your household!).

Nature or neighborhood walk

While it’s too late to start this December outdoor advent calendar (unless you can time travel back to December 1!), you could jump in and try out some of the activities.

There are some great outdoor ideas that can be done anytime. In particular, I recommend two: the 20 minute Bird Count, where you count how many birds you see in that amount of time (this could be done sitting or walking), and the Sit Spot Day, in which you simply sit outdoors and spot all the things around you. I challenge you to try doing the Sit Spot Day a few different times, focusing on different senses each time.

Here are some picture books that tackle some outdoor adventures similar to the ones found in the calendar:

Make shapes with collected sticks & colorful string

This one is fun for everyone and especially fun for kids who are learning their letters and numbers. But it isn’t limited to just that.

You can make all kinds of fun shapes with just a few sticks and string to wrap them together where they cross. Leave a secret message in the local park, or make yourself a handmade ornament decoration.

Check out Sticks and Stones, by Melissa Lennig (in eBook format).

Painting with found objects from nature

Gather a variety of materials: pine needle bunches, pinecones, other seed pods, leaves, and twigs. Bring them indoors and see what types of designs you can make when you dip them in paint and press or brush them on paper. You can use the different objects to experiment with textures and “brush” strokes.

Some inspirational books for all artists:

Frozen bubbles

Experiment with how bubbles react in the cold!

You’ll need these materials: bubble solution, bubble wand, and below freezing temps.

This is a fun one for those super cold days (single digit temperture). Blow a few bubbles, and watch as they freeze before popping. You’ll get to see beautiful ice patterns that form on the bubble.

Two books for this fun activity:

Create a snowman bird feeder

On the next big snowy day, build a snowman and use something for a hat that can hold bird seed. This makes for a wonderful nature watching activity (consider combining it with the 20 Minute Bird Count).

Head back inside, and make some hot cocoa to sip while you watch the birds enjoying your snowman. Make sure you build him within eye sight of your window.

Check out Stranger in the Woods, by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick.

Paint with snow 

Here’s another activity to try on the next snowy day: Paint with snow!

This one needs a pile of fresh snow and regular food coloring.

Bring the snow inside and separate it into a few small bowls. Add a few drops of food coloring to each bowl and gently mix the color into the snow. Take small pinches of the colored snow and slide them across your canvas to create colorful, abstract pictures.

When the snow melts and the paper dries, hang your beautiful art to enjoy in every season throughout the year!

Here are four more books for winter time inspiration found in the library’s collection:

For outdoor activities you can try on every winter day, check out this list of 100 ideas you can do with (or without!) the kids.

Abra Cole

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,