There is nothing like experiencing the joy of winter through a child’s eyes. Their excitement and giggles over falling snowflakes and piles of snow make the freezing cold and soggy gloves worth it. So bundle up and try these 12 fun outdoor winter activities with your toddler!
1. Snow angels.
The sensory experience of laying in the soft snow and sweeping legs and arms back and forth is a pure delight for toddlers. Grownups, how long has it been since you have made your own snow angel? If you are feeling brave, get down in the snow too and experience this simple joy of making snow angels together.
2. Draw in the snow.
Children seem to have a way with taking regular objects and making them into the most entertaining toys. Find a stick and practice drawing in the snow. Keep it simple with lines and swirls or practice drawing letters and numbers to add an educational element.
3. Make it snow.
Make sure your little one has waterproof gloves on and take turns scooping up snow and tossing it gently in the air. Teach them the basics of gravity as they see what goes up must come down. You might want to save this one for right before you come inside as it could get messy!
4. Bring out the beach toys.
This is your chance to get more use out of those beach toys you packed away after summer. Pull out the sand shovels, rakes, and buckets. Digging and playing in the snow can be surprisingly similar to playing in the sand. Plus, toddlers love the basic task of putting things into other things, so filling up a bucket with snow is a sure hit.
5. Build a snow pile.
Building a snowman is a classic winter activity, but sometimes the snow just doesn’t cooperate. If you have the light, fluffy snow that won’t stick together, try building a huge snow pile instead! Use those sand shovels you’ve gotten out or grab your snow shovel to pile up the snow. If you have a snow blower and a ton of snow, this is a great opportunity to make an epic snow pile. Start from the outside of your backyard and work your way around the yard in a circle until you have a giant hill that won’t melt until the middle of spring.
6. Paint in the snow.
For this idea, you will need to mix some food dye in water and put it into either a spray bottle or an empty plastic container (an old shampoo bottle or any other bottle that squirts will work). If you have a couple of bottles available, take the chance to teach about mixing primary colors to make secondary colors. Have fun making colorful art in the snow!
7. Help shovel the driveway.
Toddlers are usually eager to be good helpers and practice their independence. Have your toddler put those helping skills to good use by shoveling the driveway with you. Child size snow shovels are great for this task but some older toddlers may be able to handle lightweight regular snow shovels. Either way, they will likely end up just pushing the snow around, but practice makes perfect! Before you know it, they will be old enough to shovel all by themselves.
8. Find a small hill for sledding.
Skip the popular local sledding hills for this 1 to 3 year old age group. A small hill in your own backyard or neighborhood park is perfect for toddlers. Even without a hill nearby, simply being pulled along in the snow can be entertaining for toddlers. Great exercise for the grownup pulling them too!
9. Fill a bird feeder.
Keeping a window bird feeder or a traditional bird feeder in your yard can be a great way to engage your child outdoors in the winter. Scooping bird seed and pouring it into the feeder provides a chance to work on fine motor skills for toddlers. Watching the birds come and eat the seed can provide some fun family entertainment as well, especially with a window bird feeder. Become a birding expert and identify the different bird species that visit your feeders. Learn the Fall and Winter Colors of These Common Bird Species | Audubon.
10. Go for a nature walk.
If the paths are relatively clear, go for a walk around the neighborhood or on a local nature trail. For younger toddlers not quite steady in the snow, a hiking carrier can be a great help. Engage your senses while walking. Ask your child what noises he hears – maybe some birds chirping, cars driving by or the wind blowing. Winter walks can be monochromatic so search for pops of color on your walk like red berries on a bush or green pine tree needles.
11. Look for animal tracks.
Whether on your nature walk or in your own yard, winter presents a unique opportunity to see animal tracks more easily in the snow. Ask your child what animal she thinks might leave footprints in the snow. Look for tracks of animals that are common in your area like squirrels, rabbits, deer, cats or dogs.
12. Bring the snow inside.
After you have played outside together, plan a little indoor experiment. Bring inside a small scoop of snow in a plastic container or bucket and watch to see how long it takes for the snow to melt. Teach your toddler the basics of how water can change from one state of matter (solid) into another (liquid).
Whew, warm up and have some hot chocolate now! You’ve survived playing outside in the snow with your toddler and hopefully made some great memories and took some precious pictures in the process.
Your backyard may still be covered in snow, but spring is on the way. Check out 15 Creative Spring Break Activities At Home.
What other fun outdoor winter activities do you enjoy doing with your toddler? Share in the comments below!