Play Right: How To Keep Kids Active During Winter


Brrr! It’s cold out there! When it gets too chilly out, it can be easy to go “full couch potato” instead of getting any exercise or working out our brains. But as snow days pile up, kids need to find creative ways to burn off their energy. 

How do you stay mentally and physically active during winter without getting TOO cold? 

Here are a few indoor and outdoor activities you can do with the kids -- just make sure you’re keeping an eye out for red noses and windblown cheeks! 


  • Create gluey, crafty snowmen. Did you know that clear craft glue looks just like snow when it dries? Make creative colors by mixing kid-safe glue with food coloring, eco-friendly glitter, or a couple drops of essential oils (for decorations that act as air fresheners!). Then, paint your best winter scenes on construction paper or canvas and leave it to dry into icy perfection!
  • Make a bird feeder for winter creatures. Winter is a time when many animals go into hibernation. However, it's also one of the most active times for songbirds in the United States! Make a DIY bird feeder by painting a paper towel tube with honey and pressing in nuts, seeds, and other healthy treats for birds. Place the feeder in a spot where everyone can see, and watch to see what winter visitors stop by! Challenge your kids to draw and identify the birds and squirrels that come by to check out the treats. 
  • Experiment with crystal snowflakes. Who said STEM skills were just for school? You can try a DIY science experiment in your kitchen with these easy crystal snowflakes from Natural Beach Living. All you need is some Borax, pipe cleaners, pencils, string, and hot water--let science do the rest!
  • Build a living room igloo. Pillow forts are SO 2019. Up your game with a living room igloo. This design from The Artful Parent is easy to try at home. When you're done making the fort, pile in to read your favorite winter books together. 
  • Write, practice, and perform a family play. Have you ever wondered what would happen if your family was chased by a yeti? Act it out! Plan a play with your kids to perform for your S.O., and make sure it's full of laughs--and maybe a dance break! (P.S. New Jammies make a great base for any costume!)
  • Try some tape games. You can use painter's tape to mark out play spots for fun, exercise-focused indoor games. Create a DIY hopscotch court or make shapes out of painter's tape to play Simon Says-style game. Give instructions like "skip to the circle," "tiptoe to the square," and "jump up and down on the triangle." For bonus laughs, let your kids come up with the instructions and see how well YOU can follow them!


  • Play in the snow! This one's easy, but we had to include it. Snowball fights, making snowmen and snow angels, and sledding are all great ways to burn off energy on a chilly day. If there isn't enough snow for a full-fledged winter fun day, take a nature walk instead, and teach your kids about the winter plants and animals they come across. Just be sure to bundle up!
  • Go on a family winter adventure. If time and budgets allow, take your kids on a cold-weather adventure like snow tubing, skiing, or snowboarding. For a budget-friendly option, find a local hill that's great for sledding. 
  • Learn about cold-weather camping. Are your kids big fans of survival shows and nature documentaries? Teach them the basics of weathering winter weather by planning an Arctic excursion to your backyard. Explain how things like heat-insulated sleeping bags, camping stoves, and Hot Hands work. For a fun brain teaser, work together with your kids to build a windproof shelter out of materials they find in your backyard. (Pro tip: This is a great learning opportunity to teach your kids about things like hypothermia and cold weather safety in a fun way!)
  • Plan a winter scavenger hunt. Snow makes a great hiding spot for items in a scavenger hunt. Plan an outdoor excursion around your neighborhood with items on the list like "a red scarf," "a pinecone," and "rosy red cheeks"! 
    For bonus points, have your kids create a scavenger hunt, too, and join up in teams to see who can finish their list first. 
  • Take a nature walk to explore the wintry outdoors. There are a surprising number of plants and animals that thrive in chilly weather. Especially if you live somewhere without snow, winter can be an exciting time to see new flora and fauna you didn't realize was hiding in your backyard. Look for animal tracks and work together to identify them, pick out different winter birds by their calls, and play "I Spy" for pinecones, berries, and other winter staples. 
  • Host the Winter Olympics in your backyard. Winter fun doesn't have to be limited to snow days! Many sports from the Winter Olympics can be scaled down to backyard versions, like hockey. Create your own winter sports with toys and tools you have around the house. Make an obstacle course, race sleds, or make a "biathlon" out of short sprints and throwing snowballs at a target. At the end of the festivities, host your own medal ceremony with tissue paper torches and construction paper medals. 

Winter is a great time to snuggle up with a warm drink and a good book, but that doesn't mean other activities are off-limits! Whether you're prepping for a snow day or just looking for a way to burn off energy on a chilly morning, these activities will get your kids moving and their brains working hard.