Outdoor activities for kids in winter

4 photos of kids enjoying outdoor play in Winter with overlay text that reads winter outdoor activities for kids

Do you need some ideas for outdoor activities for kids in winter? If so you’ve come to the right place. I’m always sharing new ideas for winter activities for kids.

I’m going to share a secret with you though. I’m not a fan of winter. There I’ve said it. Just like many of you, I struggle with finding the motivation to get my family outside in winter.

December’s not too bad as there are so many festive events on or even just going out for a short walk to see the Christmas lights. Come January 2nd though I really struggle.

4 photos of winter kids activities with overlay text reading outdoor activities for kids in winter

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Outdoor activities for kids in winter

Here you’ll find ideas that need no preparation and just a few that need a little bit of preparation. Most will be free and use things you already have around the home. I’ve also included a free printable checklist that you can print out and stick somewhere to remind you of all these ideas.

All of them can be done in your garden, the local woods or park. There’s one idea for every day of the month and even a plan that you can use to tick each one off when you have completed them.

Child in winter outdoor clothing playing in the woods

Winter outdoor activities for kids when there is no snow

1. Take a penny hike

This is a really simple and fun outdoor activity for kids all year round. Simply use a coin to decide which way to go on a walk. Head could be left and tails could be right. You could end up going round in circles but you could also find somewhere new that you’ve never noticed before in a really familiar location.

2. Try Geocaching

Geocaching with kids is great fun all year round but sometimes in winter you need a push to get outside. A treasure hunt is always a winner in our house. Sometimes we go out specifically to find them, other times we are out walking and we open the app to see if there are any nearby. You’d be amazed how often there are opportunities for geocaching.

3. Make a Frozen Suncatcher

This is something we still haven’t tried yet but how beautiful are these suncatcher?

4. Ice Painting

We love ice painting. It’s great in the winter as the ice doesn’t melt too fast. We’ve mainly done this in summer but the ice melts very fast. To make ice paint. Freeze coloured water (food colouring) in ice cube trays with sticks in. For more ways to play with ice see here.

5. Bark Rubbing

I bet you did bark rubbings as a child but have you tried it with your own children? I often pack wax crayons and paper in my daughters’ rucksacks. They love this simple activity. Simply place the paper on a tree trunk and rub a wax crayon lengthways over it.

6. Ice Lanterns

Another lovely activity to try with ice. A bit like the ice suncatchers but this time in a lantern shape so you can add a candle. Find out how to make them here.

7. Leave a trail of food for animals

Winter is a great time to start encouraging wildlife into your garden. You could also leave a trail of food whilst you are out walking.

8. Drink Hot Chocolate outside

Is there a better way to warm up whilst playing outdoors or on a family walk. We often take a flask of hot chocolate on a walk. We sometimes even take marshmallows to add to it too.

9. Frozen Bubbles

If the temperatures drop below feezing then get out the bubbles. Frozen bubbles are simply beautiful. It hasn’t been cold enough this year to try them but we will be doing as soon as it does. See just how beautiful they look here.

10. Puddle jumping!

I don’t think this one needs any explanation. Kids love puddles and winter usually means you are going to find plenty of puddles about.

toddler in wellies puddle jumping

11. Stargazing

Winter is a great time to learn about the night sky. Since it gets darker a lot earlier this leaves more opportunities to get younger children outdoors.

If you are looking for a book to teach you all about constellations then this fantastic book is sure to inspire you. Find my Out and about night explorer review here.

12. Go on a winter scavenger hunt

Family walks are a great winter activity. Just make sure your kids are wrapped up well and have some ideas for fun things to do on a walk with kids up your sleeve like a winter scavenger hunt.

Get your free Winter Scavenger Hunt printable here.


13. Matchbox Challenge

The matchbox challenge is another great walking activity for kids. Simply give your child an empty matchbox and get them to see how many items they can collect and fit into it during one of your walks.

14. Mud Painting

Painting with mud is fantastic fun all year round. Simply mix mud and paint then give your kids a paint brush and see what they create.

15. Throw stones on a frozen lake

If you are lucky enough to come across a frozen lake, try throwing some small stones on it and listen to the sounds created.

16. Make Frost Patterns

Isn’t frost beautiful? Next time you get frost, take your kids outside to explore the beautiful patterns that you can find. You could also let them make their own patterns in the frost.

17. Ice Sculptures

This was one of my children’s favourite winter activities. I froze water mixed with food colouring in ice cube trays. My kids then had great fun stacking them and making sculptures. Aren’t these beautiful?

colourful small blocks of ice in frosty grass

18. Go on a sound hunt

Go on a Sound Hunt which is great for all ages but particularly good for getting preshoolers to focus and listen for sounds.

19. Create an outdoor Obstacle Course

Obstacle courses are great for getting kids moving on cold days. Have you got some balls, hula hoops or even just garden furniture that you can use to create a course? Older children can even create their own or one for younger sibblings.

20. Make an Evergreen Mandala

We love creating art with nature outdoors and the bigger the better. Why not see what you can find in your garden to create a Mandala or how about collecting nature on your next walk. Either stop to create the art where ever you are walking or take some bits home to create in your own garden or back yard.

21. Try rain Painting

This is another great creative activity that uses the weather. Simply paint a picture with watercolours. Even just spots of colour or stripes. Then put the picture outside in the rain and watch how the rain drops change the picture.

22. Have a Winter Picnic

Picnics aren’t just for summer but you may want to change the food you take. A thermal filled with soup or hot chocolate will always be welcome on a cold winter walk. Find my favourite Winter picnic ideas here.

23. Make a Stick Maze

At this time of year there are always lots of sticks on the ground. A great activity is to gather some up and create your own stick maze. If you make it big enough, challenge someone to find their way to the middle.

Children creating a stick maze on the forest floor

24. Go for torchlit Walk

With the early dark nights winter is the perfect time to take a torch lit walk or take a DIY paper lantern walk. I love combing two activities together in this way.

25. Climb a Tree

A fun outdoor activity for kids at any time of year.

26. Ice Scavenger Hunt

Freeze coloured water in either ice cube trays or other moulds (even yogurt pots would work). Then hide them around your garden and get your child to hunt for them all.

27. Mud Kitchen Potions

In my experience, kids love mud and mud kitchens. You don’t need a fancy mud kitchen though. Kids are just as happy with a pile of mud and a selection of charity shop pots and pans. Don’t forget some water and a wooden spoon to stir your mud soup.

Find more mud kitchen play ideas here.

28. Decorate an edible tree for animals

One of my favourite ways to decorate an edible tree with kids is with these pine cone bird feeders. A few of these in a tree look so pretty and will soon attract some birds so you can try number 29 too.

29. Give bird watching a try

Whatever type of bird feeders you decide to add to your garden, they are sure to attract birds. Why not have a go at identifying some of them or even just counting how many you see in a specific time frame.

This is my favourite * bird identification book for kids.

This one is lovely for * learning their bird songs too.

Why not join in with the RSPB big garden birdwatch between the 29th and 31st January. Sign up here to get your free guide and then spend an hour in nature counting how many birds you see.

30. Animal Track Hunt

This works well in either mud or snow. Can you find any animal footprints to track? What animal do you think made the trail?

Find load more ideas for outdoor activities for children that can be done all year round here.

Snowy outdoor winter activities for kids

Depending on where you live, snow can either play a large part in your winter or it might be something you only see if you are very lucky.

If you are lucky enough to get a good covering of snow, here are some fun activities to try.

31. Snow painting

This one is a really fun and unique idea that is suitable from toddlers upwards. You can find all the details of how to paint snow, two different ways in this painting snow post.

Bowl of snow with pots of poster paint. Child's hand holding a paint brush
Painting snow

32. Build a snowman

All children love to build snowmen no matter how big or small. Don’t forget the carrot for his nose

Brightly dressed child on a red sledge in the snow

33. Go sledging

If there is enough snow, grab your sledge and head to your nearest hill or slope for hours of sledging fun.

34. Have a snowball fight

No description necessary. Everyone knows how to have a snowball fight but make sure there are a few ground rules like no throwing them at anyones face.

35. Make snow angels

My girls love creating snow angels. Simply lie on the ground (on your back) and move your arms and legs up and down to clear space in the snow.

Once you come in from the cold, why not snuggle up and read some of these great Winter books for toddlers.

Looking for more ideas to get your kids outside?

I shared over 100 ideas for outdoor kids activities in this post. Many of them will work in winter. 

A woodland walk is always a good idea. In this post, I shared my favourite ideas for things to do on a walk with kids

There are plenty of ways to have fun with toddlers. Here are my favourite outdoor activities for toddlers

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Outdoor activities for January list

One thought on “Outdoor activities for kids in winter

  1. Jena says:

    Wow, Interesting and useful activity . Every kids will love it in this pandemic situation. I am going try out few which will be suitable for my kid age. It is useful information for all parents. Thank you

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