Chilly, snowy days are calling your kids outdoors. Find fun winter activities for the slopes, trails, ice rink, and backyard for children of all ages. Remember to brush up on winter sports safety. Have the hot cocoa ready when everyone comes back inside!
There's nothing better than gliding through the cool air on a sled. Find a good hill and grab your tube, toboggan, or saucer for hours of entertainment. Sledding is fun for all ages, but toddlers should ride with a parent, and should be well-bundled in layers to stay warm and cushion their tumbles.
Downhill and cross-country skiing are family favorites during the winter months. Some children start skiing as young as age 2 or 3, but the best age is probably about 5, when kids are more coordinated and less afraid of falling. Young downhill skiers can hit the bunny slopes or green circle trails but should have an adult with them. Ski lessons can help your child learn the ropes. It's wise to invest in a helmet in case of falls or collisions.
As with skiing, little ones can start snowboarding young, but few children strap on a board before age 5 or 6. Snowboarding is most popular among tweens and teens because they have the strength and skills to stay upright and try more tricks. Lessons and safety gear, including a helmet, knee pads, wrist guards, and hip pads, are recommended because snowboarders of all ages have their share of spills.
Fluffy snow? Check. Snow suit? Check. That's all the gear kids of any age need to lie down and create a snow angel just like they would do a jumping jack. Make this simple activity extra fun by using materials to decorate your angel, such as food coloring to draw on a face, and old clothes and accessories to dress it up. Why should snowmen have all the fun?
This slippery activity will be tricky for newcomers. But once they get the hang of it, they might get addicted. Age 4 or 5 is a nice time to begin skating or take lessons. Most children wear figure skates or hockey skates to start out. After they get more into skating, they can try the sports of speed skating, ice dancing, figure skating, or hockey. Have beginners wear a helmet, and offer them a hand to help with balance.
Building a Snowman
Babies and big kids alike will love to make a snowman in the yard, especially around the holidays. After stacking a few big snowballs to make the body, kids can use their imagination to find fruits, vegetables, sticks, berries, clothes, and other materials to bring their snowman to life. Younger kids can try this printable snowman activity and snowman craft.
Building an Igloo
Children who have graduated from building snowmen can spend hours constructing an igloo or snow fort. Kids can use a shovel or their hands to build one of these arctic domes. Then they can learn to say "Seasons Greetings" in Eskimo and other languages with this holiday printable.
Kids who have gotten hooked on fishing during the warm weather months might love to try ice fishing with a parent. Young children will probably get bored waiting for the fish to bite, so keep your outing short or just bring your older children. Always be sure that the ice is safe – at least 4 inches thick – and that temperatures have been below freezing for several days straight. Children, and even adults, should never ice fish alone in case of an emergency on the ice.
Families that like to hike will love snowshoeing. Kids will have fun on the bigfoot-like shoes that help keep them from crunching down the snow and getting stuck. If your child can walk, he can snowshoe! Outdoor retailers sell snowshoes and poles for kids as young as age 2. Poles are optional depending on the trail and snow conditions and your child's balance. This is a great form of cardiovascular exercise for everyone in your family.
Have a ball battling with your kids in a snowball fight. By joining in the fun, you can help your younger child or underdog while also supervising to make sure it doesn't turn into bullying. Avoid injuries by making sure the snow isn't too icy. Snow on super-cold days will be too light and airy to form a ball. Here's a tip: Lie down on the snow for a few minutes to heat some up and then try to pack that warmer snow into a ball.