Parents and guardians may be tempted to dial back outdoor activities for kids when cold temperatures arrive, but playing outside is good for children, even in the winter season. The following tips help to make wintertime, learning playtime.
Do winter activities that are fun. Weather that adults may consider to be “messy” can be a huge canvas for children and their imaginations. Snowballs, snow forts, and trees covered in snow offer a wealth of opportunities for children to explore and experiment in our living landscapes.
Encourage exploration. Ask your child to look at how the landscape changes with the seasons. Talk about what happens after leaves fall, when snow arrives, when it’s windy, and more. Link these seasonable changes with basic science about clouds, rainfall, temperature changes, and the earth.
Play with them. Get outside in the winter with your children. It’s healthy for both kids and adults to move! Have a snowball fight, build a snow man or fort, or go sledding.
Try something new. Try your hands at cross-country skiing, igloo-building, winter hiking, ice fishing, ice skating, snow sculpting, snowshoeing, or something else that your children want to try to give them an appreciation of the outdoors in all seasons.
Attend a community festival. There are many community festivals year-round, and winter festivals can be exceptionally fun and offer activities for kids.
Mention how happy it can make them. Even winter sunshine can make kids happy! Literally. Sunlight boosts vitamin D, which helps regulate emotional and mental moods by increasing serotonin in the brain. Even exposure to the weaker sunlight in the winter can cause this happiness boost.
Tolerate some mess. It’s a given that kids going outside in the snow will often return wet, muddy, and messy. Be prepared for wet and cold kids and get them warmed up when they return from playing outside.
Process what they did. Ask kids to share about what they did outdoors. You can ask them to talk, write, or draw out their activities and observations. Did they observe something new? Did something surprise them? What was fun?
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