What a winter we have had! But the cold should not keep Canadian families indoors. Bundle up, get outside and get physically active every day with one of our 10 outdoor winter activities for kids. Why? Because active play is essential to every child’s physical, cognitive, emotional and social development—even in winter. Unfortunately, one study shows Canadian kids spend only three hours per week playing actively in the winter, compared to four and a half hours in summer. (via www.participACTION.com). A part of this lack of play during the winter months is due to the four main barriers to play; safety concerns, too much screen time, unruly weather and not enough hours in the day.
According to the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines, children need at least 60 minutes of physical activity per day, but only five per cent of children in Canada are meeting the guideline. We’ve racked our brains for outside winter play ideas and think you’ll be excited by the results:
1. Use the time after school or after activities when lots of kids are around to structure playtime. 30 minutes of tag, soccer or snow play can impact kids’ fitness levels significantly.
2. In a cold climate? Pack a hot chocolate picnic and find a frozen lake or snow-covered toboggan hill. Reward the kids afterwards with jammies and a movie under the covers. (It’s also budget-friendly!)
3. Encourage your kids to have a race around the block and make ‘Olympic’ medals for participants.
4. Scour yard sales and second hand stores throughout the year and pick up snowshoes or cross-country skis. These activities are fun for the family and help everyone (ahem) break a sweat.
5. Use different months of the winter to structure activities to raise money – October is breast cancer month, January is Personal Self-Defense Awareness Month and February is diabetes. You can find a full list of months and their meanings here – we’re willing to bet you can structure a tae kwon do or skipping fundraiser for a great cause!
6. Shut off screens and let the kids get bored. It’s amazing how this stimulates imagination.
7. Darkness and safety concerns can be a barrier. Why not organize a ‘party’ outside on a Friday evening with lots of kids, parents to supervise and flashlights to illuminate! Dodgeball, Capture the Flag, What Time is it Mr. Wolf and relay races can be great bonding exercises for both big and little players.
8. The Girl Guides are a great group, and we can’t say it any better than they have! Here is a comprehensive list of winter games that also help teach a few lessons.
9. Geocaching is an incredible adventure that incorporates travel and orienteering. It’s a great travel-focused activity for kids that can be found worldwide.
10. Often winter brings not only deep freezing but deep discounts. Bundle up and take advantage of inexpensive canoe rentals and less expensive winter camping sites (if safety and lakes permit). Just be sure to protect yourself from frostbite and weather. And don’t forget the hot chocolate!
More ideas? Let us know, and have fun outside!