Get some fun winter backyard play ideas for your adventurous toddler!
You know you’ve reached adulthood when winters make you want to curl up in your warmest blanket and hibernate until spring.
Kids, on the other hand, delight in playing in the snow– even if you’re not so keen on it.
To make their outside winter playtime as fun as possible (and as distracting and time-consuming as possible), you need to use just a little creativity to come up with play ideas.
I know for my twins, they absolutely love winter and trying to find the highest snowbank to sled off of.
The benefits of playing outside in the winter are well worth the effort you’ll spend getting these activities set up.
Not only do your littles get more Vitamin D, but they will also experience lowered stress, fewer allergies, a boosted immune system and a greater sense of well-being!
20 Winter Play Ideas for Your Backyard:
1. Build a Backyard Rink
Building a rink in your backyard is a big undertaking – with a huge payoff! Imagine how much fun your kiddos will have skating in their own backyard.
First, find the right space. You want it to be spacious, fairly open and level. You want the water to freeze evenly to create the surface.
Next, use 2×12 boards to build the walls of the rink.
Lastly, use your hose to fill the space with water. This can be time consuming, since you want to ensure one layer of water is frozen before adding another.
All in all, you want the ice to be about 10 inches thick – the thicker the ice, the longer your rink will last.
The ideal temperature for freezing the ice is -15°C. You need it cold enough to freeze the ice and keep it frozen.
Once it’s done, however, your kids will have a great place to skate close to home!
Or – you can always buy a simply skating rink you can put together with the family easily!
This is probably what I will do just to see if my twins enjoy it. Then next time, make one (well hubby will!).
2. Mix Up Some Snow Paint
Snow paint is an extremely versatile snow activity that can be used simply to create art or decorate snowy creations.
You can buy snow painting kits or you can mix up your own snow paint at home. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Food coloring
- Spray or squirt bottles
Just mix several drops of food coloring with water in either style of bottle. Shake well.
The more food coloring you add, the more vibrant the color will be!
3. Make a Snow Maze
Challenge your little ones to escape a snowy labyrinth!
All you need to do is use your feet or a shovel to create a variety of paths that your children need to follow in order to escape the maze.
Don’t forget to include twists and turns!
4. Make Sculptures Using Nature
We all know how important branches and rocks are when creating snowmen, but your child can also use lots of other natural materials to craft snowy creations.
Twigs, berrys, pinecones, and cedar needles are all great tools for creating a variety of sculptures.
They can create snowmen, animals, mermaids…whatever their little minds dream up!
5. Use Cake Pans and Muffin Tins as Snow Molds
Sometimes playing in the snow doesn’t have to be a cardio workout. Kids also love to simply sit in the snow and play.
Give them something to work with by providing cake pans or muffin tins your little ones can use as molds.
You can also bust out the beach toys for crafting castles. Just remember that once plastic gets too cold, it can break easily.
6. Use Snowballs to Go Bowling
What fun is snow if you can’t throw it around?
While a good ol’ snowball fight is always a must, you can use snowballs to your advantage by setting up some snowball bowling.
Empty bottles make great pins that can be set up around the yard and knocked down by your little ones.
7. Have a Treasure Hunt in the Snow
If you have some waterproof toys and trinkets laying around, you can send your kids out to have a treasure hunt in the snow.
Simply bury the objects and have your littles ones seek them out.
Try to keep the toys close to the surface so they’re relatively easy to find – otherwise, you may be discovering lost items once spring hits and the snow melts!
8. Play Snow Golf
Children’s golf sets are a common toy found around most households. You can take the play outside by setting up a snowy golf course.
Use cans or bottles with the tops cut off to create the holes and position them around your yard.
Get your little ones to gather some branches and sticks to mark the holes.
Your kids can create a sort of mini-golf experience by adding slopes and barriers to make it more challenging.
9. Make a Snow Volcano
Remember making baking soda and vinegar volcanoes when you were a wee one?
Well, you can make them outside during the wintertime!
All you need is a cup or plastic bottle, baking soda, vinegar and food coloring (sound familiar?).
Oh, and snow.
Form a volcano out of the snow around your plastic cup or bottle, being sure to leave an opening at the top.
Once formed, have your kiddos add the baking soda and food coloring to the cup. Get them to pour in the vinegar and watch it erupt!
10. Build an Igloo
Start by making blocks by packing snow together.
You can use this snow block mold to make it easy to create igloo blocks.
Arrange them in a circle to create the base of the igloo (leave room for the door!).
The “bricks” should be at least 8-12 inches thick.
Keep making bricks and stacking them in rows, using more snow as “cement”.
Once you get to the top of the door, use a piece of wood (or something flat and sturdy) to create the top of the door. Then stack more snow on top.
You can then begin to angle the rest of the rows toward each other to create the roof. Just remember to keep “cementing” the blocks together with more snow.
11. Create a Snowy Obstacle Course
Snow is such a great material to use since it can be built and molded into just about anything!
Have your kids create a snowy obstacle course by building structures to climb, jump off of and crawl through.
They can even include activities in their obstacle course such as stopping to throw a snowball or add to a snowman.
Even if they get bored with the first few run throughs, they can tweak their course by adding challenges!
12. Make Water Balloon Marbles
This is a bit of a messy craft, but one your kiddos are sure to love!
The end result are beautiful ice marbles that your children can take outside and decorate the yard with.
To make water balloon marbles, you will need:
- Water balloons
- Food coloring
- Plastic bags
- Old towels and clothes (to keep everything clean!)
Place 1 drop of food coloring into a balloon and carefully fill it with water. Tie off the balloon and place in a bag. Repeat this until you have enough balloons then put the whole thing in the freezer.
Once the balloons are frozen, carefully cut the balloon and peel it off the ice. This is where you may want to throw down old towels because it can be messy.
Sit the ice marbles on a cookie sheet until your little ones are ready to go outside and play!
13. Make Maple Syrup Taffy
You don’t have to hunt down a local sugar shack to enjoy some maple syrup taffy during the wintertime – you can make it right in your backyard!
Follow these steps to create this delicious treat:
- Gather clean, fresh snow and pack it into a pan.
- Pour half a cup of real maple syrup into a sauce pan and heat on the stove until it reaches 235°F.
- Take it off the heat and immediately drizzle it onto the snow.
- Let it cool for 1-2 minutes before picking it up to eat it.
After you pack the snow into a pan, make sure to keep it cold while you heat up the syrup. You can leave it outside or pop it into the freezer.
14. Bounce on the Trampoline
If you live in a climate that doesn’t get a whole lot of snow, it’s safe to leave your trampoline out all winter!
The thing about snow is that you can’t let it accumulate on the bouncing pad or it may cause damage. So if you live in a snowy part of the world, and want to leave your trampoline up, you’ll have to keep it cleared off.
Which may be totally worth it, since your kids are going to love bundling up and bouncing around in the snow!
What better way to warm up on cold winter days?
Hide-and-go-seek is a classic children’s game that takes skill and cunning. Imagine having the added challenge of covering your tracks in the snow while finding the perfect place to hide?
Although, once the game is played a few times, and your yard is covered in tracks, it won’t really matter.
But, in the meantime, it’s a great game to play outside in the snow!
16. Snowball Target Practice
As I mentioned, snowball fights are a beloved winter activity. However, you may not like the idea of your kids hefting snowballs at each other.
Avoid potential injury by giving your kids targets they can throw the snowballs at! Use bottles, cans, or anything you can find around your home.
You can even get your kiddos to build targets out of snow and paint them with the snow paint!
17. Blow Bubbles
When the temperature hits 0°C or below, the coolest thing happens when you blow bubbles.
Grab a bubble wand and some mixture and give it a try! The cold temperatures cause the bubbles to freeze right to the wand.
You think kids love bubbles now? Wait until they see this cool trick!
18. Feed the Birds
There are many species of birds that stick around during the wintertime – and they certainly wouldn’t mind a tasty treat to snack on now and then!
Simply, and carefully, string popcorn, cereal and dried cranberries on a long thread. Once done, decorate a tree that you can see from one of your windows.
Your children can then spend their time warming up by watching the birds and other wildlife who come to visit!
19. Make Snow Lanterns
Based on a Swedish tradition, these super cute lanterns are easy to make and decorate your backyard with.
Assemble a base of snowballs then place some outdoor lights or battery-powered tea light candles in the middle.
Close off the top and you have a beautiful glowing lantern for your yard!
20. Have a Hot Chocolate Station
The bummer about playing outside in the winter for kids is having to come inside to warm up.
You can let them play outside for longer by setting up a hot chocolate station!
Well, it’s not really a station and more just you bringing them hot chocolate on a tray. But, hey, it will warm them up and allow them to play outside for longer.
Let it Snow!
Kids should always be encouraged to play outside – especially in the wintertime.
Now I want to hear from you: What are your kiddos’ favorite outside winter play activities?
Let me know in the comments!