Wintertime is a very magical part of the year that brings back many good memories of childhood and family. But when the weather turns cold, and your kids begin to complain that they are getting bored of staying indoors all the time, it is important to have some activities lined up for them to make their own magical memories.
Whether you are a busy mom, a visiting grandma, or a dad looking for some new outdoor games, these fun backyard winter activities will keep your kids busy all winter break long.
From toddlers to young adults, children of all ages will love spending time with you in the great outdoors, all in the comfort of your own backyard! Keep reading to learn more about these activities that require very little cleanup and use earth-friendly materials.
These outdoor games, activities, snacks, and crafts will not only keep your children occupied but also help them learn as they play and enjoy the crisp winter weather and holiday season.
Making Magical Winter Memories with your Children
The memories we make as children during the holidays and winter season are some of the fondest memories we have as adults. These activities are very important in making the winter season special and warm:
- Spending time with our families
- Enjoying the beauty of the season
- Doing original activities
Playing Outside is Important for Child Development
According to Harvard Medical School, playing outside is imperative to the success of a child’s development. Rain or shine, summer or winter, spending time as a child can have the following benefits for the following reasons:
We receive sunshine outside
Sunshine is incredibly important to the health of a child because humans receive Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is especially important for children because it positively impacts their bone growth and their immune systems.
Not only does the sun improve our mood, but it also helps people get good quality sleep they need each night to be strong and healthy each day.
Children have the opportunity to exercise outdoors
Being active is very important for a child’s development. Children should exercise or become active for at least an hour each day, and doing physical activities in the backyard is a great way to encourage this positive behavior.
The outdoors is a place of creativity
When spending time outside, children learn important skills such as planning, negotiating, prioritizing, and multitasking. These skills are important for healthy brain function and help us become critical thinkers as adults in the long run.
They are learning how to take risks
When spending time outside with their parents, children are often taught by example how to take calculated risks. Based on their parents’ actions, children can learn safe behaviors and compare them to otherwise unsafe behaviors.
This teaches them how to weigh the consequences of risks and how to gain the confidence to make decisions on their own. The lessons children learn outdoors will be lessons they carry with them through their lives.
Children learn an appreciation of nature and animals
With the changing world and extinction of so many animal species, it is important to teach children the importance of nature at a young age.
Spending time outside can teach children about animals such as birds and woodland creatures, which encourages them to be more empathetic to all living things.
It can also teach them about sustainability, such as farming, the difference between dirt or garbage, and which soil is best for growing food.
Winter Activities to Keep Your Kids Entertained in the Backyard
1. Colorful Magic Snowglobes
One great way to keep your children entertained and having fun in the comfort of your own backyard is to have them make colorful magic snowglobes. These snowglobes are great because they do not actually require any snow or cold weather to create them and can be done by kids of all ages.
To make your colorful magic snowglobes, you will need the following items:
- Food coloring
- Watercolor paints
- Latex balloons or water balloons
- A funnel or watering can
- Scissors or a needle
Make your fun and colorful magic snowglobes by doing the following:
- Stretch your latex or water balloon by pulling it with your hands
- Fill your balloon partway with water by using the funnel or watering can
- Drop a few drops of food coloring or watercolor paint crumbles into the water
- Add glitter into the balloon if you desire
- Tie your balloon tightly to secure the glittery and colorful water inside
- Use a marker to write your child’s name on the balloon, so they know which is theirs
- Leave the filled balloons out in the cold if the temperature is below freezing outside, or put them in the freezer in your home if you live in a warmer climate
- Once frozen, pop your balloon by using scissors or a needle
- Remove the remaining balloon and take your frozen and decorated snowglobe outside to play with
2. Make Mother Earth’s Confetti or Potpourri
If you want to do a great earth-conscious craft in your backyard to celebrate the wintertime, making confetti or potpourri out of natural ingredients is the best way to do so.
Not only will it create beautiful decor for the holidays, but this project will also help teach your kids about foraging and using natural materials to the best of their abilities.
- To make natural confetti, all you need to do is collect leaves, twigs, and other beautiful remnants you find in your backyard or out on a wilderness trail.
- Have your children sort them by color, and use one piece from every color to place in a bowl. If the leaves you find are large, you can find a hole puncher or leaf-shaped cutter to make them smaller.
- Once all the pieces are in a bowl, take turns with your children throwing them up into the air.
To make potpourri, simply gather natural elements that give off a comforting and strong winter smell.
Put them in an open bowl to dry out in a warm spot if possible, then sprinkle them with ground cinnamon for added smell and display them in the house where the children can enjoy them. The best-gathered leaves and plants to make natural potpourri include:
- Pine leaves
- Cinnamon branches
- Star anise
- And more
Once you are finished with these potpourri or confetti bowls, simply toss them back into nature, where you found them!
3. Build a Traditional Snowman
When we think about the winter, most people think about building snowmen. This is because snowmen are quintessential winter icons and have a special place in many hearts.
Whether you live in a snowy place or not, building a snowman is a wonderful backyard activity to share with your kids that they will cherish for years to come.
If you do live in a snowy place, building a snowman with your kids will be pretty straight forward. Simply begin to gather as much snow as possible and start to roll the snow into balls.
- Once you have rolled the snow into three large balls, each slightly smaller than the next, then you can begin to stack them.
- After stacking the smallest ball on top and the largest ball of snow on the bottom, the fun part begins.
Rather than making a modern snowman, teach your children the history of the winter season by gathering vintage hats, scarves, buttons, and even gloves to place on your snowman.
Give your snowman personality with a traditional carrot nose and some coal from the fire or woodland stones that you find in your backyard. Don’t forget to take photographs of your kids next to the snowman, and for an added fun effect, let them dress up too!
If you happen to live in a place that does not get snow, you can either make a small version of a snowman with sand, call him a sandman, or use pillows, cushions, and other household items to create an unmelting snowman on your patio.
Regardless of the materials you use, your children will have lots of fun and be occupied all day long!
4. Freezing Bubbles
Freezing bubbles is a great activity to do with your kids when the air is cold and crisp on a winter day. To freeze bubbles, simply take some soap and water outside with your children’s favorite bubble wand.
Let them blow bubbles and watch the bubbles freeze mid-air. Depending on the conditions, these bubbles will float pretty far before freezing and even come crashing down to the ground once they do freeze.
This science experiment can be lots of fun for both children and adults and can be done multiple times throughout the day!
5. Peanut Butter, Pinecone, and Seed Bird Feeders
For those who love animals and bird watching, making bird feeders will be your favorite new wintertime backyard activity!
After making these beautiful crafts, you will be able to learn about local wildlife with your children and help them keep a bird-watching journal, which will keep them busy not only in the winter but throughout the year.
To make fun, festive, and eco-friendly feeders that birds and squirrels alike will love and eat from, simply gather the following ingredients:
- Twine or string
- Organic, unsweetened creamy no-stir peanut butter with no added salt or palm oil
- Birdseed mix
- Unsalted sunflower seeds
- A spoon
- A plate
Once you have gathered the unsalted, unsweetened, and organic ingredients to safely feed to the local animals, put your bird feeders together by:
- Preparing your seeds and bird feed by pouring it and mixing it on a flat plate
- Grabbing your pine cone and tying a string of twine around the tip
- Taking your spoon and using it to spread the peanut butter on all sides of the pinecone
- Dipping your peanut butter-coated pine cone in the seed mix
- Hanging your seeded pine cones up on a branch or fence where you’ll be able to watch the birds and the squirrels enjoy their meals!
6. Forage and Build a Nest
When it comes to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) challenges and activities for kids that encourage them to become passionate about science and wildlife, making a nest is the perfect winter activity!
Do this activity by taking your kids outside to the backyard and collecting any natural items such as sticks, feathers, and leaves that they think a bird might like to use to make a nest. Some of the best natural nest-building ingredients include:
- Dry grass
- Pine needles
- Found feathers
- Twine strings
- Dried berries
- Tiny pine cones
- Various nuts
- And more
Then, teach your children how to begin weaving the longer twigs and strings into a circular wreath shape, filling in the holes and edges with nuts, pine cones, and pine needles.
Once they have created a circle, teach them to fill in the center with an egg-shaped pattern using soft materials so that the bird has somewhere to sleep and possibly even lay its own eggs.
Then, place the new little foraged nests in a safe backyard spot like in a tree or a bush where birds can find them. Check back with your kids every day to see if anyone has moved in!
7. Make Delicious Snowcones
Snowcones are a childhood treat for many, whether they grew up in the snow or going to summer county fairs.
- Make your own snow cones with your kids by grabbing some cups from home, going outside to some fresh snowfall, and grabbing the cleanest snow you see.
- Then, adding food coloring and cane sugar sweetener to give the snow that classic snowcone look.
- Serve with a spoon in the backyard while your kids don scarves, hats, and mittens to keep them warm.
- You will have taught them how to make their own delightful snack, keeping them busy for hours of fun!
8. Search for Snow Fleas
It might sound strange, but searching for snow fleas is a great outdoor activity to do with your children!
During warmer winter weather, snow fleas, which actually aren’t fleas at all, but are rather small harmless hexapods related to crustaceans, just around outdoors.
They are very small, making them both hard to see and fun for kids to try and catch. Snow fleas are 2 millimeters long and often dark blue in color with a little tail called a furcula.
They come out during cold weather when the snow begins to melt and look for food that comes from old trees and decomposing leaves. Though you probably don’t know it, you have probably encountered many of these small bug-like creatures in your lifetime.
They are harmless and good for the environment, so after you kids catch them, make sure to release them back into the wild.
9. Have a Snow Angel Contest
Making snow angels are one of the best parts of winter weather. In order to make things even more fun when enjoying the day in the backyard with your children, turn the snow angel making into a snow angel contest!
When making snow angels, make sure to dress warmly. Waterproof pants, jackets, and warm hats and gloves are necessary to make the day last longer. Turn a simple day of snow angel making into a contest by creating categories for all your kids to win, such as:
- The funniest snow angel
- The largest snow angel
- The largest wings on a snow angel
- The longest snow angel dress or skirt
- The smallest head on a snow angel
- The smallest snow angel
- And more
Take your snow angels to the next level by drawing decorations on them with long sticks once they’re done. Some decorative ideas include:
- Names and titles
- And more
10. Enjoy a Winter Bonfire
While it takes complete parental supervision, enjoying a winter bonfire is one of the best ways to spend a winter evening outdoors with the whole family.
Whether you have a year-round fire pit or a terra cotta fire holder in your backyard, grab some logs and create some warmth! Sitting around the fire pit in cozy winter clothes with warm blankets can be a great opportunity to talk to your kids about the winter holiday spirit.
Share your favorite family stories, your best winter memories, or even make holiday smores. To make holiday smores, you need the following ingredients:
- Marshmallows or vegan marshmallow if your family avoids gelatin
- Long sticks or skewers
- Dark chocolate or peppermint bark
- Candy canes
- Cinnamon graham crackers
Simply melt all the ingredients together and place them between the graham crackers for a winter twist on the original summertime smores. For an entertaining evening, the whole family won’t forget, enjoy a winter bonfire after any of the above daytime backyard activities. It might even become your favorite new wintertime tradition!