Outdoor Winter Activities

family playing the snow
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Feeling a little stir crazy? It’s time to bundle up the family and head outside!

Research shows that spending time in nature has huge benefits for both children and adults. Increased physical activity, decreased feelings of anxiety, improved family connectedness, and higher cognitive functioning are just a few of these.

So here a few fun ways to spend time outdoors this winter…

  • Build a nest – Take advantage of the bare trees and bushes of winter to spot birds’ nests…then try making your own. Weave twigs, dried grass, pine needles together for this fun STEM challenge.
  • Plan your garden – Nothing can drive away winter blues like envisioning the spring! Use this time to prep your garden beds by adding compost and dried leaves to replenish soil nutrients. Then, grab some seed catalogs, decide what to plant, and mark out your plots and containers.
  • Search for signs of animals - There is evidence of animal life everywhere in nature: tracks in the snow, nests, collections of nuts, scat, sheds, and so much more! Sometimes they’re easy to see, but sometimes we have to slow down and look closely to spot them.
  • Have a backyard cookout – Cookouts aren’t just for summer! Throw some cozy blankets on your patio furniture, set up a s’mores station, and bring a thermos of hot cider for spectacular outdoor dining.
  • Shovel someone’s sidewalk – Though often seen as a chore, shoveling snow for an aging neighbor or friend can become a lesson in generosity and gratitude. It’s never too cold for acts of kindness!

For more ideas about outdoor winter activities with kids, check out this great resource form Penn State Extension:

If you’d like to learn more about the benefits of being in nature, register for this upcoming webinar from Illinois Extension: Four Seasons Gardening Therapeutic Value of Nature.