Outdoor Winter Exploration Ideas

Our partners at Kinderberry Hill share the benefits and joys of outdoor play in all seasons - especially winter!

Warm greetings during this crisp winter season! Our region has so much beautiful nature to explore. At Kinderberry Hill, we do just that by enjoying our outdoor classrooms all year round! If dressed appropriately, there are no health risks to being outside in the cold, but oh so many outdoor winter explorations ideas and adventures just waiting for you!

Perhaps the best perk of winter play is the surprise of an ever-changing landscape. When children leave their wintery space at the end of the day, it always looks different upon their return. This alone offers limitless education and excitement. A simple dusting of snow, a new layer of ice, or fresh tracks can create magic and curiosity for children.

Winter play also inspires great creativity, as the snow itself is a tool to create. Snow has a profound effect on how children build and play. They might dig a hole for their bed or make a pile to create a chair. Sometimes heavy snow can make it easier to anchor sticks, logs, or milk crates for building. Creating paths, roads, or even obstacle courses are common pleasures in outdoor winter play. Garden boxes turn into ice castles and mud kitchens into snowy cafes for talented chefs! Don’t forget the enormous canvas snow provides to explore color! Whether children use paintbrushes or spritz bottles, their entire bodies are thrown into this creative process as color is splashed anywhere and everywhere.

Winter is not a season, it’s a celebration. ~ Anamika Mishra

child in winter gear playing with colorful ice blocks outdoorsBenefits of Time Outdoors

One of the most important benefits are the sparkling eyes of children running and playing outside! Research shows that children have lower stress levels when given ample space and freedom to move and explore as they wish. You may notice your child’s focus shine in outdoor play. Often children who move from activity to activity, flourish in sustained and engaged play while outside. This is exactly what we hope to provide through regular outdoor play during all seasons and weather.

To appreciate the beauty of a snowflake, it is necessary to stand out in the cold. ~Aristotle

young girls in outdoors in winter hat and coat - outdoor winter exploration ideasEnjoying Nature

Winter offers much nature and wildlife, if you take just a moment to look! Hanging a bird feeder is a great way to bring a little extra wildlife to your yard. These spotlight the animals who stick around to enjoy this snowy season with us! Make a list (or sketch) the creatures you see. Noticing tracks and finding out who visited while you were gone is a perfect way to explore a fresh snow! Finally, keeping an art journal of the clouds to predict which ones will bring even more snow are just a few ways we can enjoy winter’s outdoor beauty.

Snowfall rouses your inner child to dream and play once more. ~ Angie Weiland-Crosby

decorative handmade craft hanging in a tree - outdoor winter exploration ideasSo, bundle up and get outside! Check out the outdoor winter exploration ideas below or visit our website for more inspiration.

10 Child Tested and Approved Winter Activities!

  1. Cloud Charting. Study the sky in your backyard and notice the different clouds. Which bring snow? What colors and shapes do you see in the clouds? Place a mirror on the ground and let children observe them from a different angle. Can you paint the cloud on the mirror? Tracks in the snow! Take time to look outside for tacks in the snow. Can you guess who has been there? Can you find tiny bird tracks? Squirrel tracks? Maybe investigate tire tracks. How wide is the track? Do you think it was from a car? Truck? Delivery truck? Can you find tracks going backward? How do you know?
  2. Study the Birds! What birds do you see around your neighborhood? What colors are they? Can you hear them singing? Do they all sound the same? Where do they live? Hang small bundles of nesting materials from trees and bushes near your house. (yarn, cotton, dried leaves/grass, string) Watch to see if the birds find it helpful! Which materials would you choose first if you were building a nest? Create and hang bird feeders. Ask your child why it might be harder for birds to find food in the winter?
  3. Search for Icicles. Go on an icicle hunt! Are there any around your house? Do you see any up high? How could you measure them? What makes them form? Why are some big and some small? Can you find any down low? Can you draw them? Break them off and examine them in the sink to see what happens to them inside.
  4. Create Your Own Ice Blocks. Fill ice cube trays with water and let the children add the color. Allow cubes to freeze and let the children build structures using these blocks. You may need spritz bottles or paint brushes with water to freeze blocks together. Snow may also work if available. For more full body play, create huge blocks out of Tupperware, mixing bowls and ice cream pails. Enjoy!
  5. Snow Volcanoes! Place a plastic cup in the snow and form a volcano around it. Fill with baking soda, food coloring, and vinegar. Make it erupt, over and over!
  6. Set-up a Paint Station. Put snow in a sled with brushes and paint. (Use bowls, sticks, or frames to define and highlight your masterpieces!) You might also fill spritz and/or squeeze bottles with colored water and let the children add color to the snow in your space. Take before and after pictures to remember your colorful adventure!
  7. Winter Scavenger Hunt. Search for a flying bird, frozen puddle, tree with no leaves, squirrel, tracks in the snow, gray clouds, sun, moon, etc. Have children help take photos of their discoveries and create a book to share with family and friends.
  8. Snow-to-Water Experiment. Fill a container with snow and measure it. Take it inside. After it melts, measure again. How much snow equals water? What happens if you put your bucket back outside?
  9. Winter Nature Journals. Take note of the nature in your own backyard. (Sun, wind, birds, snow, trees, squirrels. . .) Can this nature inspire artistic sketches, charting, scientific observations? Maybe even stories or poems? Do you notice changes in the trees, sun, or shadows throughout the winter season?
  10. Measure Yourselves. Snow can be an excellent tool in showing children a concrete example of their own size. Have children lay down in snow & then measure their imprint. Give them yardsticks, rulers, yarn and blocks to size themselves up. Enjoy watching them explore themselves from a different perspective. (Tip! These imprints can make a darn cute family portrait too!)

We wish you wonder as you explore this magical season with your favorite adventurer!

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