Need some good fun outdoor family activities to try with your family? Author Rebecca P. Cohen wrote The Best Outdoor Activities for Families: Wintertime (A new 99 cent download). Her ebook is a collection of wintertime activities giving families an idea for each day ranging from December through February, requiring little planning, no expertise and relatively little resources (time, cash, or patience!), no matter where they live. Pretty cool, right? Well, she is also sharing 10 of her favorite fun outdoor activities kids love with us here today!
10 Fun Outdoor Activities Kids Will Love:
1) Look for an Aerial Battle
At this time of year, the kids and I tend to notice small birds engaged in battle with a larger bird in the distance overhead. Many times, we see these amazing displays of nature when we are in the car, but it’s not limited to that context. Turf battle? A hawk hunting for newly hatched baby birds? We’re never sure what it’s about, but we see these aerial battles many times during the season. Keep watch on the sky; can you find one?
2) Learn More About Who is Getting Ready to Hibernate
Bats, frogs, snakes, and bears find places to hide out all winter, but you don’t! Skunks, badgers, raccoons, squirrels, chipmunks, and beavers are “Nappers and Snackers,” finding a warm place for winter, but still active at times for food. Look around and see if you can spot animals getting ready for winter: squirrels making warm nests high in trees and collecting nuts; holes in logs where animals may live; you may even notice that birds are getting more plump in preparation for winter.
3) Make a Bird’s Nest
Now that the leaves on the trees are down off the trees, do you see bird’s nests in trees? See if you can build a bird’s nest with what you have around outside: tall dried grass woven together, bits of string, small twigs, maybe even mud. Want to learn about real nests and the birds in your backyard? Join the National Zoo in their Neighborhood Nestwatch program. Learn more at NationalZoo.si.edu.
4) Traditional Family Walk
When my extended family gets together for Christmas dinner, we follow the meal with a traditional walk. Any time there’s a family gathering, a nature stroll is a wonderful way to bring people together. We slip into fun and meaningful conversations and walk off those extra calories without even trying.
5) “Pretend You’re A…”
There are fun ways to mimic wildlife outside. For example, wrap tape around your thumb and index finger and be a raccoon trying to hunt for food. Hold chopsticks (with kid helpers) to be a praying mantis. Draw a line in chalk on the sidewalk and balance like a squirrel. Curl up like a pill bug. Search for tiny holes in dead logs where woodpeckers might
6) Visit Two Museums
Need more fun outdoor activities kids will love? Try visiting two museums. Why two? You are more likely to park your car in town (public transportation is even better) and walk around. A children’s or science museum, then a zoo or natural history museum, will be favorites of the kids. You could even make an scavenger hunt in town to find five things: a fountain, a statue, a garden, a map, and a person wearing a scarf. If creativity is not your thing, you may want to try Puzzling Adventures for pre-made outdoor city scavenger hunts.
7) Have a Sunrise Breakfast
Make a piping hot breakfast (hot cereal or warm muffins work well, and so does hot milk or cocoa), bundle up, and enjoy an early-morning picnic outside on a blanket. In January, if you time it right, your family can catch a sun- rise while you eat. Watching the sun rise and set is always great, but it’s extra magical when the trees are bare, giving you greater visibility.
8) Examine the Ice and Then Turn it Into a Masterpiece!
Examine the ice outside. Look at the layers, bubbles, leaves, sticks, and other items that add to the texture of it. My kindergartener recently remembered his science lessons while we scrutinized a piece of ice in our yard. “Mom, did you know that ice is a solid, which turns to water—a liquid—when it melts, and when it disappears into air it’s a gas!” After you have examined the ice, why not turn it into a work of art? Using paint brushes and homemade watercolors (water mixed with food coloring) have your kids make a painting right on a piece of ice. Younger kids will enjoy using spray bottles, each filled with a different color of paint (water and food coloring), to create an abstract painting on the ice.
9) Get to Know a Tree
Close your eyes and have your child lead you to a tree. Use your senses—touch, smell, and hearing—to learn all you can about your tree. The bark will have its own texture, tiny buds may be forming on branches, and the trunk will be easy or hard to get your arms around. With your eyes still closed, have your child lead you back to where you started. Open your eyes and try to find your tree. Now it’s your child’s turn! You may also want to try a tree scavenger hunt.
10) Create or Count with Pinecones
Head out to look for pine cones; don’t forget to look up in the pine trees as well as down on the ground. Hunt for special pinecones to put in a basket in the house, make a mobile, or dip them in paint and make fun designs on paper. Don’t want to collect the pinecones? Find a pine tree and count how many pinecones you see. Decide together how to re- member where your pine tree is located. Then, return to your tree every week to see if there are more pinecones, or if the pinecones on the branches have grown bigger!
Want more even ideas for fun outdoor activities kids will love? Fifteen Minutes Outside: 365 Ways to Get Out of the House and Connect with Your Kids is a must-have book for every parent, grandparent, and educator to keep kids and adults healthy and having fun year-round.
What are your favorite fun outdoor activities kids enjoy?