Winter can be a real hibernating time – it’s tempting to want to stay cosied up indoors until the weather warms up a little. Part of the fun of Winter is snuggling up on sofas and under blankets diving into a good book! But as the days lengthen, daylight shortens and everything becomes decidedly crispier, nature provides us with a magical backdrop that’s perfect for exploring. A fresh winter’s walk in nature to blow away the cobwebs and put an end to cabin fever is a lovely way to savour the season. If you’d like to do more exploring this Winter, here’s a list of fun, easy outdoor winter nature activities to help you get outside more this Winter.
Ideas for exploring Nature in Winter (with or without snow)
If your kids are anything like mine, it’s easy to get them out and about in the snow but for those grey days when you need a little more inspiration, here’s some fun winter nature ideas that don’t require any snow! Let the wild world weave its magic and encourage a real sense of adventure!
Go on a Eggbox Nature Walk
Grab an eggbox and try to see how many fun and interesting things you can fit in an egg box. Here are 24 fun ideas of more things you can do with nature on a walk in this post
Make a Cast of Animal Footprints
Go on an animal footprint hunt and make a cast of the footprints. Find out how to do it here….
Go on a Muddy Puddle Walk
Pop on your waterproofs (see below for ideas for dressing kids in cold weather) and head out to a woods and have some fun splashing around in muddy puddles! You can see our post of our Muddy Puddle Adventure here!
Geocaching is a great way to explore outside. It is free, easy, fun, appropriate for all ages, and……. outdoors! People across the world set up hidden treasure “caches” and then upload the coordinates so that other people can find them. You can use an app on a smartphone to find them so it’s great way to lure techy kids outside! Our first geocaching experience didn’t quite go to plan but we’re still keen to try more, find out how we got on here!
Things to Make Outdoors in Winter
Outdoor crafts are a great way to look at what nature has to offer in a new light and it gives opportunities for developing problem solving skills and working together. Creating something that might take a long time or be tricky for kids is a great way for helping them value their own creativity and be proud of what they can make with their own hands.
Take two sticks and tie them together in a cross. Hang several long bits of string down from the ends of the stick cross and add pine cones, berries, leaves or shells/ pebbles to make a beautiful mobile. Or alternatively, use air drying clay to make a nature mobile by reading this post here. If you find some fun winter flowers or leaves – you could preserve them by making this cute nature keyring!
Make Frozen Bubbles
This is a really beautiful activity. Try making frozen bubbles, find out how here. I’m really hoping it gets cold enough here to try this and be able to take beautiful photographs like the ones in this post! Temperatures need to be below freezing for this to work and it’s best to try in the evening when the sun has mostly gone down so they completely freeze without the sun!
Make a Bird’s Nest
See a lovely idea for making a Bird’s Nest here.
If you have some glass jars spare, you can easily make a Natural Xylophone in the woods or your garden. Find out how to make one here.
Nature Clay Faces
If you take some clay with you, you can have lots of fun exploring nature by making clay faces using leaves, twigs, bracken – anything you can find! Alternatively, a messier (and much more fun) version is to find some thick mud and make your own clay!
Winter Nature Art for Kids to Make Outdoors
Natural Stained Glass Windows
If you pour a little bit of cold water into a bucket or large bowl and place some string around the bowl with the ends hanging out. Float coloured leaves and winter petals on the surface of the water. Leave outside overnight until the water freezes and then hang in a tree to enjoy your Natural Stained Glass Window. For an alternative way to make these – try using this Frozen Suncatcher Idea.
Fun Winter Activities for Kids and Families
The wild world is ripe with endless possibilities for play and creativity. The outdoors offers kiddos time and space for exploration and to make up their own games which are often a whole lot more fun outside than in!
Set up an Outdoor Potion Lab
Have a rifle through your kitchen cupboards and use this as a good opportunity to get rid of out of date flour, spices – anything really! This is one of my kids favourite things to do……. get together some washable or old bottles and cups and get mixing with out of date things from the kitchen cupboard. If you have some bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, this can make the potions really explode! Just make sure your kids know not to drink anything they make! Here’s our summer potion adventure but this would be equally as fun in winter with ice to mix too! If played on a patio, it’s easy to hose down afterwards to wash it away.
Make herb tea or a Mud Cake
Another favourite with my kids! You don’t need to have a mud kitchen, just some old tins, pots and pans and some mud and your kids will be away! We have some herbs planted in the garden and my kids like to use these mixed with water to make their own ‘herb tea’!
Soft Toy Escape
Put a soft toy (perhaps not a favourite one!) in a tree too high up for your kids to reach. Give your kids a variety of equipment (I suggest: rope, bucket) and ask them to solve the mission of getting the toy back down BUT no-one is allowed to climb the tree!
Chalk Ideas for Winter Play
Chalk isn’t just for summer! Try taping lots of different coloured chalks to the end of a broom handle for drawing rainbows on the pavement!
Trace around little kids feet using chalk and then ask them to see how many leaves or twigs they can fit inside their feet!
Draw coloured circles of chalk for little feet to jump in and out of! It will help them learn their different colours! In the Summer, this activity can be done with the kids filling the circles with things of the same colour.
Here are some more Nature Game ideas:
Tips for Helping Kids to Get Outside in Winter
In a perfect world, getting outside would be as easy as grabbing your coat and heading out your back door with your kids running excitedly behind but if you’re kids are a little reluctant – here’s some ideas to make going outside exciting!
Wrap up Warm
It’s better to wear lots of thin layers including a base layer of a vest of T.Shirt to keep little kids warm when exploring outside in winter. Warm hats are essential because if your head is cold, your body automatically sends blood to your brain to try and warm it up and then you will feel colder. We love these nice warm hats that also look super cute! Woollen gloves get very wet and cold quickly – so it’s better to wear these under some waterproof ski mittens, particularly if you’re playing in the snow or in water. We love these very reasonably priced kid’s ski gloves.
Even if you’re not playing in the rain or snow, waterproofs are excellent for insulation and keeping you warm. We prefer these waterproof suits for kids because they’re thin for good movement and to run around but you can also layer up the warmer clothes underneath.
Helps to boost the kids a little if they’re getting a little tired in the cold weather!
Bring a Flask full of Hot Chocolate.
This is certain to be winner with kids! This is a great way to turn a quick walk into the woods into a real adventure! Find some tree stumps and settle down for a snack and a cup of hot chocolate! The adults might need a flask of coffee though!
Pop some inexpensive hand warmers in your pocket if it’s really chilly. They are great after playing in the snow and are perfect for warming little fingers if they get cold. It’s also a good idea to keep a change of clothes and a couple of blankets in the car to warm up kids on the way home. We learnt this after our error of forgetting during our recent Canoeing Trip!
And if the weather’s really bad – don’t forget that on the worst of days, there are plenty of ways you can connect with nature inside, too. Here’s some ideas for indoor nature craft ideas that you can make with the things you find on your walk!
If you’d like more some more ideas to help kids get outside, these books are brilliant!
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