6 Outdoors Snow Activities for Kids
No matter how old you are, snow will always be the best part of winter! If it’s been snowing in your neck of the woods or if you’re snow-bound this winter, here are 6 outdoors snow activities for kids, great excuses to pile up the layers and go out.
Ditch the electronics and let your kids channel their inner scientist, campfire chef or architect for some good old-fashioned fun. no electronics involved. Don’t forget to dress in layers and be ready to stay out for a bit!
#1 Catch A Snowflake
When the air temperature reaches freezing point (0 Celsius or 32 Fahrenheit) and clouds are moisture-filled, the most wonderful and ephemeral winter phenomenon happens – snow! My girls love snow like me, they love snow everywhere–even in cities when people say that it’s dirty and inconvenient. Snow is just pure magic to them and it’s a shame that it never stays long where we live. Here is the trick to catching a snow crystal long enough to observe its incredible architecture.
- Have a black surface ready for the next snowfall. It can be black construction paper, black velvet or a black umbrella. Ideally, this surface will already be cold (leave it outside sheltered from the snow) so that the snowflakes won’t melt right away.
- When it starts snowing, go outside with your kids and have them “harvest” snowflakes on the surface.
- Have your kids observe them with their naked eye and if have one, use a magnifying glass to see more details. Some magnifying glasses come with built-in LEDs that are cool enough that you can light the snowflakes without producing too much heat.
- Many snowflakes are broken. Can the kids see whole six-sided ice crystals?
- Ask your kids to take pictures of the snowflakes and draw them once you’re back inside!
#2 Go Sledding Without A Sled
We’ve all been caught off-guard with the unpredictable snow day. Sometimes, you have to make do! If it’s snowing outside and you’re not sled-equipped, the following are all perfectly fine sledding alternatives.
- If the slope is steep enough, kids can slide directly on their snow layers. The best glide will come on a packed snow trail such as a road where people walk frequently. I wouldn’t do that with their best, though…
- Pool inflatables – most likely they won’t last if they’re made of thin plastic but hey, what’s more fun than sledding on an inflatable dragon?
- Inflated truck inner tubes – thicker and better than pool inflatables
- A big cafeteria tray or greased up cookie sheet – that’s for very little kids
- Cardboard – prefer large pieces and curve the front so that the kids can hold it (you can pull a light child in a cardboard box
- Laundry basket – again, for small kids (unless your laundry basket is the size of a small bathtub)
- Kayak – steer with the paddles
- Thick garbage bags – work best on smooth surfaces
- Trash can lids
- Inflated air mattress
- Skis fitted on piece of wood or any sturdy box
And remember – always wear your bicycle helmets!
#3 Build An Igloo
Building an igloo is not as complicated as it sounds. With the right shovel, you can do it in 20 minutes flat! Little ones will love the impromptu snow shelter and if they’re light enough, they can even climb it! You can read my full instructions here or follow these simple steps and use your imagination:
- In an area with packed snow (not powder), use a snow shovel to cut 1-foot-by-1-foot cubes.
- Line them up as an open arc on the ground.
- Add a second level with a narrower arc.
- Use hands and shovel to strengthen your walls.
- Each level should be narrower than the previous, eventually leaning in towards a dome shape.
- Towards the end, have an adult sit inside to support the roof so you can add your final cubes.
- Igloo, done!
#4 Blow Frozen Bubbles!
Right, you’ll need to live in seriously cold countries for this one because it only works when the air temperature is -15C/5F. To make your soapy water that will produce nice, solid bubbles, combine these three ingredients in a bottle:
- 125 ml liquid dish soap
- 125 ml corn syrup
- 750 ml hot water
Another recipe calls for a different ratio of the same three ingredients:
- 2 cups liquid dish soap
- 1 cup corn syrup
- 6 cups hot water
You can try both and experiment. After you’ve mixed everything, let cool before heading out. When you’re ready, go out with your bubble wand and blow some bubbles. The trick is to blow them up in the air so that they have time to solidify before hitting the ground.
#5 Build A Snow Squirrel
Snowmen are easy. Have you ever tried to build a snow squirrel? If you have young artists at home, they can create their own animal zoo from snow. Have at it!
#6 Make Sugar on Snow
In Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder wakes up one morning to find the ground covered with soft, thick snow. It’s sugar snow, Pa says. Sugar snow is a time of year when snow helps maple trees make more sap for maple syrup, around February or March. Once maple syrup has been boiled past the point of syrup but not quite to sugar stage, it can be poured onto snow, lifted with a small popsicle or wooden stick, and eaten as soft candy. Does it sound wonderful or what? The good news is, you don’t need to live in Canada or Vermont to make this treat, although a sugar-on-snow party complete with donuts and pickles does sound rather nice. All you need is the equivalent of a bucket of clean snow outside your front step.
- Pour 2 cups/500 ml of maple syrup in a pan.
- Boil the maple syrup, without stirring, to 20 degrees beyond the point of boiling water, usually 234 F /112 C. Use a candy thermometer to measure the syrup temperature, while resisting the temptation to stir as it will form crystals (just like caramel, really). Any warmer and the syrup will get tough.
- Once you’ve reached the desired temperature, let the liquid cool a little before pouring onto clean snow outside. Have the kids ready with long forks or sticks to eat the resulting taffy or be ready for sticky fingers!