Well, winter is most definitely here – it’s raining a lot, the temperatures have plummeted, and the wellies are out in full force. What’s making it so much worse is the Coronavirus Lockdown. It really limits what you can do, but there are actually loads of outdoor recreation activities available, and playgrounds are still open too. To help you keep your kids busy, we’ve gathered a bunch of winter sports and outdoor ideas for kids:
- Winter Sports
- Kids outdoor games
- Outdoor education
The cold won’t be a bother when you’re running through the woods and playing in the puddles, so read on to find some fun, cabin-fever-beating things to do outside…
Winter sports and education
Did you know there are loads of outdoor sports which you don’t need to pay a lot to do? Some are even free! The best part is they’re still active during lockdown too.
A classic past time, this activity is one of the safest (and most social-distanced) sports you can try. The weather doesn’t matter when you’re racing to the park, seeing who can go fastest, and going for long rides in the wilderness. If you’re going for a long ride, make sure you plan your route and take refreshments with you. You should dress everyone appropriately too with gloves, coats, hats, and helmets – it can get cold on a bike where the skin is exposed. For any younger kids in trailers or ride-along seats, make sure they’re wrapped up in a blanket too.
It’s not always seen as one, but orienteering is an educational sport aimed at improving navigational and map-reading skills. Just choose a trail, download a free compass app on your phone, and away you go. If you’re not sure how to get started, there are Autumn competitions and campaigns to get families orienteering that can help.
Outside of the lockdown, there are more opportunities too, such as outdoor snowboarding, skiing, and ice skating. These sports vary in cost and availability, so do your research and see what is best.
Kids outdoor games
Playing outdoors is a summer staple, and it should be in autumn and winter too. It’s just as fun, and there are plenty of critters and things to see, but it is colder. The key is to wear the right clothes – pop on some waterproof shoes or wellies, get the winter coat on, and keep your ears warm with a hat too.
One way to get them all excited is with an outdoor scavenger hunt for kids. Let them burn off all their excess energy and learn some valuable communication, problem-solving, and teamwork skills too. There are some free downloadable hunts, but if you’re thinking of making one up yourself, then the Woodland Trust has some excellent seasonal advice.
Go to the playground
The playground slide and outdoor swings for kids are still open this lockdown, so why not head on down and see what things there are to play with? However, while the guidance suggests that the equipment gets cleaned regularly, we recommend your kids wear gloves the whole time and maybe take some cleaning wipes if you’re worried.
You may not act like it, but we all love jumping in puddles. It’s a child-like piece of fun that we’ve all done before, so get everyone to put on their wellies and waterproofs and make the most of the British weather. Soon enough, the grey and rainy day will seem much livelier and more upbeat.
If we get any this year, a good snowfall has so much potential for playing – it’s a classic Christmas and wintertime activity. You can build snowmen and snow dogs, you can have snowball fights, make snow angels, and homemade igloos. It’s SO fun. And we have to admit, going inside to warm up with a hot drink and a blanket afterward is pretty good too.
Ice Egg Hunt
If it’s cold enough, you can hark back to easter with an icy egg hunt:
- Fill some balloons with water
- Freeze them
- Hide them in your garden
The goal is to find all the eggs before they melt, so keep track of how many you hid. You could also hide little toys inside as an extra prize.
Play Pooh sticks
Another classic, all you need is identifiable sticks for each player – they can be long, short, with leaves on or painted. Just drop them off one side of a bridge and run to the other side to see which flows fastest underneath.
It’s all well and good watching David Attenborough and Autumnwatch but getting to know the nature around our homes can teach us a whole lot about the world and the other creatures on the planet.
Explore the wildlife
Pop on your detective hats and get investigating the local wildlife. You can look for footprints, nests, feathers, and more. See if you can uncover their homes and if you can spot the animals. Alternatively, you could make a DIY bird feeder, put it up in your garden, and see which birds and creatures you can entice into your outdoor space for study.
Ice is a safe substance to get scientific with. Why not see how many cubes you can stick together with the help of some salt? Or make some art with a frozen cube, some food coloring, and salt?
With the nights getting darker sooner, there’s more of a chance for your kids to see stars and planets. We suggest marking down when some meteor showers are due and letting your kids stay up to watch. You could even get them a telescope to zoom in on the moon. It’s fascinating stuff!
The winter weather (and the lockdown) shouldn’t stop you and your kids from exploring outside and enjoying the fresh air. All you need to do is adjust your focus and wear the right gear for your outdoor adventures.