11 Healthy Outdoor Winter Activities for the Entire Family

Got cabin fever? Get outside and have some fun!

Special Collections: PLAY LIKE A KID


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Winter is here! It's cold outside. The snow is coming down, and it is beautiful to watch from our windows. But staying indoors will give kids (and parents) cabin fever. It's time to go outside and play.

There are plenty of fun outdoor winter activities for families to do when the temperature drops and snow if falling, many are free or low cost. The benefits of fresh air and exercise far outweigh the effort of bundling up the kids in snowsuits, boots, hats, and gloves. So dress warmly and head outdoors.

Keep the family fun going when it is time to go back indoors and warm up with a nice cup of hot cocoa around the table.

1. Build a Snowman

Even the littlest children love to make a snowman or snowwoman in the yard. After rolling and stacking the snowballs, it's time to decorate the creation. Let children's imagination soar as they look for sticks and other material to use. Don't forget the carrot for the nose and clothing or props when you go outside. If there is a lot of snow, you can build an entire snow family.

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2. Go Sledding

Kids love the feeling of gliding down a hill on a sled, snow tube, saucer, or toboggan. They don't even mind climbing back up the hill to do it again. Little ones should ride down with a parent. Just make sure they are well bundled up from the cold. If you don't have a hill nearby, even a snow pile will do. You can even build your own slope.

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3. Go Snowshoeing

Families that love to hike will also love snowshoeing. Kids love to wear big snowshoes. If your child can walk, then they can snowshoe, too. Little ones can be pulled in a sled. Poles are optional depending on the conditions of where you are hiking, but in any case, snowshoeing is a great exercise.

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4. Hit the Ice Skating Rink

You can skate on a frozen lake or any outdoor rink. Ice skates are a must, make sure they fit correctly. There are two-track skates for little kids. Ice skating lessons are a good idea before you get started.

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5. Build a Snow Fort

Have a blast building a snow fort. The kids get into molding the snow bricks and boulders and putting them into place in the snow fort. It can be small or elaborate. You can use sand pails and molds if you want to sculpt your fortress. Build two and have an old-fashioned snowball fight.

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6. Launch a Snowball Fight

Have a ball in a snowball fight. Break into teams, and kids can battle parents, boys against girls, or have a free for all. Just make sure that the snow isn't too icy and make sure to participate so that there is no bullying, just good clean fun.

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7. Paint Snow Graffiti

This takes some indoor prep to make the colors to snow paint with. Fill three or more clear squirt bottles almost full of water. Add 4-5 drops of food colors to the bottles to make safe snow paint. If using three, make them primary colors: red, yellow, and blue. Then let your children's creativity rule when they use the snow as a canvas.

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8. Make Snow Angels

Get the family to bundle up in a snowsuit, boots, hats, and gloves and set them loose in the snow. Kids of all ages can lie down in the snow and make snow angels. You can even decorate your angels with snow paint or dress them up in old clothing.

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9. Feed the Birds

You can make natural bird feeders from a host of materials. Make a pinecone bird feeder with birdseed or string popcorn or cranberries on fishing line. You can even hollow out an orange and fill it with bird seeds. Hang them in your yard, and you can watch the birds come to feed in the following days.

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10. Make a Winter Bonfire

Bundle up around a cozy fire, roast hot dogs over the fire (or grill if open fires are not allowed) and have an outdoor picnic. Don't forget to end the meal with smores.

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11. Go Ice Fishing

If your kids love to fish during the summer than they will love to ice fish. Pick a lake that is solidly frozen over, and the ice is at least four inches (10 cm) thick. All the equipment you need is an ice auger, skimmer, ice rod and reel, assorted ice jigs, a big bucket to put the fish in and to sit on outside and life jackets for little ones. Always make sure that children are well supervised and never ice fish alone. Take along a thermos of hot cocoa and snacks.

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