Beyond the Snowman – Winter Outdoor Play Ideas

Doesn’t it feel as if we’ve had snow on the ground for months already? Well, actually, that’s true. With our first storm hitting mid-November, cabin fever symptoms are due to hit us early this season, especially if we have active children who need to expend energy elsewhere than in the house.

Snow is more than something cold and wet and fun to throw at someone else. It actually is a great exercise boost by providing both resistance and weight. When your child moves, pushes, or builds with snow, he is strengthening his muscles and bones. Even the venerable sledding slope helps builds your child’s ability to embrace the exhilaration of controlled speed and risk, giving her the confidence to tackle other physical challenges.

If your snow activity repertoire doesn’t extend beyond snowmen, sledding, and snow angels, we’ve got help for you with some timely tips from this article. Ready to dress your children in sensible layers and go enjoy some winter play? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Build. When you are fortunate to have that nice packable snow, try adding snow animals, furniture, or any other shape or form that inspires you. Build them directly or make snow bricks or balls to erect your structure. You can even tackle ice sculptures by freezing blocks of water in milk cartons (even layering them with leaves or pine needles), then building your creation. Once your children get started, their natural creativity will be engaged.

Run. Ever try snow tag? It’s harder than it sounds. Try variations such as footprint tag (must only step in others’ footprints) or freeze tag (appropriate, don’t you think?).  Try designing your own snow obstacle course, or even playing snow kickball.

Throw. Humans don’t have to be your only snowball target. Use a hula hoop or a chalked area on a garage door to define your target space. Put your cornhole board to good use by using snowballs instead of beanbags. Or, the article suggests creating a course for the traditional Native American game of snow snakes by digging a long trough in the snow with your foot or other instrument. Get creative by introducing twists and turns, valleys and hills. Then select an object to throw down your course (Native Americans used carved “snakes”) – perhaps small smooth sticks, or even a tennis ball, to see how far down the course you can make it go.

We hope by now your creative juices are flowing. As with all activities in extreme temperatures, make sure you and your children are dressed appropriately, wear sunscreen, and are alert to the early signs of hypothermia such as shivering or pain in the extremities or exposed skin. When it is time to come indoors, entice them with a cup of hot cocoa. The snow will still be there tomorrow.

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