10 winter family games

Learn easy ways to make the great Canadian winter a part of your active family fun.

By Pat Doyle, partner to Active Healthy Kids Canada

Think of fun winter activities as a family

The winter provides endless ways for one to become creative, inventive and adaptive in modifying the elements. However, it is often difficult for kids to just "get out and play," especially in the winter when the daylight hours are shorter and there are fewer safe places where kids can engage in unstructured activity.

But using the winter outdoors as a theme, parents can provide an opportunity for kids to experience some winter fun and physical activity. All you need is warm clothing and some creativity.

Getting ready
Engage your kids in the planning. Brainstorm as many outdoor winter activities as possible that they could do with you or with their friends. Consider equipment, and safety considerations for each activity.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

• Active winter lookout
Create a scavenger hunt that has the kids identify and gather items that they can see from various parts of your yard, block or in the local park. For example: How many pine cones can you gather in five minutes? How many trees can you count? How many snow balls or snow angels can you make in one minute? How many dogs do you see in the park?

• Frosty walks
Grab a breath of fresh air by taking a walk around your neighbourhood or a nearby local park. Invite neighbours, friends or pets along. To add some fun, you can have your kids estimate the time it will take them to reach a particular destination and then compare their estimates to the actual time. Younger children may also enjoy games of “Eye Spy” on the walk. This has the added safety benefit of helping them to become familiar with the landmarks in their neighbourhood and community.

• Snowball weigh-in; snowball melt-out
On your winter walk around the block, playground or park have your kids create the biggest snowball they can. Back at home, weigh or measure their snowballs and record this information. You can then place each snowball in its own dish or bucket in various areas of the house (e.g. under the radiator, by the window or on the kitchen table) and monitor the time it takes for the snowballs to melt in each location and how much water each produces. Alternatively, a little food colouring can make for fun indoor or outdoor snowball art. And try our cool ice art ideas.

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