As we move smack into the middle of winter, it seems like everyone (myself included) gets wrapped up in a case of the blahs. Christmas is over. Snow’s on the ground. It’s cold, it’s dark, and all we want is beautiful summery days back within our reach. It’s easy to long for the days of summer so much that we forget just how many fun winter activities for kids are at our fingertips.
Making the most of the dreary days of winter are important to keep the family moving and avoid getting down in the dumps. That’s why I’ve put together this list of fun and unique winter activities that you can do outside or in! Stop Googling “winter activities near me” and coming up with the same old stuff. Use these ideas to have fun all winter long.
Unique Winter Activities for Kids
Whether you’re looking for indoor winter activities or outdoor winter activities for kids, these unique ideas should give you some inspiration to keep getting creative and having fun, despite the cold weather. When you think about it, kids can have fun doing just about anything. So let loose and join ’em this winter!
1. Have a Snowy Photography Session
Winter is a photographer’s dream season. Once that snow hits the ground, it’s amazing how beautiful their shots can become without even trying. Take the kids out armed with their phones, tablets, or camera (this waterproof camera is perfect for when the snow’s still falling), and let them snap their favorite landscapes. Then, take turns having one person be the photographer and the rest of you pose for a fun family session. You’ll love sharing the photos with each other as you warm back up inside!
2. Have Fun with Snowballs
Snowball fights always seem to be one of the first things we think of when we think of winter activities for kids. But there are so many other things to do with snowballs! Instead of a traditional snowball fight, split into teams and build forts to protect you from the other team’s snowballs. Or, set up a target of some kind – a bucket, a snowman, etc. – and get some target practice in. You can even “paint” snowballs using food coloring mixed with water, and throw them into the snow for colorful bursts!
3. Have an Indoor Game Day
Game days are super popular in my household. Use your day of being snowed in to have a video game tournament or some fun with good old-fashioned board games. This Mad Libs game, Clue, Electronic Battleship, and various forms of Monopoly (we especially love Monopoly Gamer) are a few of our favorites.
4. Paint the Snow
Fill condiment squeeze bottles with water and a few drops of food coloring to make snow paint! Bring the kids outside and let them draw and write in the snow.
5. Make Snow Ice Cream
Use real snow to make this super-simple 3-ingredient vanilla snow ice cream from Happy Hooligans. You can’t get more all-natural than that!
6. Visit a Trampoline Park
Trampoline parks are fun for all ages (even adults can feel like a kid again!). My kids and I usually take a trip to a trampoline park once or twice through the winter. They get their wiggles out and we all have a blast in the warm indoors.
7. Hit the Trails with Snowshoes
Don’t just take a hike in the snow – take a hike with snowshoes! This can be an exciting, new way for your family to explore local trails together in the beautiful snow.
8. Cook or Bake Together
When it’s cold outside, you might as well utilize the heat of your oven to warm the house and make it smell delicious. Get the family together for a day of cooking or baking. Have some fun with it: Make videos to post on YouTube, have a baking competition, or create a cookbook of family recipes using everyone’s ideas.
9. Visit a Children’s Musem
Children’s museums give kids tons of exciting activities to explore. They can even play in water in the dead of winter! As long as it’s safe to drive to your closest one, it should be the perfect winter activity for parents to get out of the cold and enjoy exploring with the little ones.
10. Have a Winter Movie Day
Grab blankets, pillows, and a big ol’ bowl of popcorn and break out some winter-themed movies! Turn the lights down and pretend you’re in the theater. A few ideas for movies:
11. Volunteer in Your Neighborhood
Look for local organizations that could use your help, like the animal shelter or soup kitchen. Volunteering as a family not only helps others, but it’s also a good way to warm the soul. What better way to spend a snowy day then reading to the elderly or snuggling a furry pup?
12. Build with Ice Cubes
Fill several ice cube trays with water (I love these easy-release trays by OXO) and add a few drops of food coloring to each cube. Put them in the freezer for a couple of hours until they freeze thoroughly. When they’re done, the kids can take them outside and build with them on a flat surface, just like blocks or LEGOs! To help them stick together, you can use a paintbrush dipped in room temperature water to brush on the cubes.
13. Look at Old Family Photos
Spend a blustery snow day on the couch looking at old family photos, scrapbooks, newspaper clippings, and baby books together. Your kids will love to see Grandma as a baby as much as they love seeing their own baby photos.
14. Collect Pine Cones for Wintery Crafts
Search around your yard or the park for pinecones of different sizes that you can use in wintery crafts! These pinecone Christmas trees are adorable and this lighted pinecone wreath is a good family craft that will look perfect on the front door.
Not having luck finding pinecones? You can always order some on Amazon to have ready for your next craft day.
15. Host a Cookie Decorating Contest
Ask your neighbors, friends, and family to join you for a cookie decorating contest. Bake gingerbread or sugar cookies and offer icing, sprinkles, candy, and other decorative goodies for kids and adults to use to beautify their cookies. Have one child and one adult be the judges!
16. Ride a Train Through Snowy Scenes
There’s nothing quite like seeing snowy landscapes while riding on a train through the wilderness. See if any local train depots have train rides for the public and take the kids on a trip they’ll never forget.
17. Write Cards for Loved Ones
Use your downtime to handwrite cards to mail to others in the family. Kids can even make their own cards by folding a piece of paper in half or quarters and decorating the front with markers, glitter, and other crafting supplies. The next day, you and the kids can take a trip to the post office to send them off for delivery.
18. Have a Family Fitness Session
Working out as a family is an excellent way to keep everyone healthy, in shape, and accountable. And, it’s even more fun to work out when you have some adorable little fitness partners by your side! Keep everyone moving during the winter by putting on some free YouTube workout videos and having fun!
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19. Declare a Cozy Pajama and Book Reading Day
Unwinding with a good book is the best when it’s a cold, snowy day and you can curl up with a cozy blanket. Have everyone pick a book to read, or choose one book you can read together as a family, and set out some healthy snacks to graze on throughout the day.
20. Plan Your Summer Family Vacation
Get your family excited about summer and the upcoming vacation season by planning your next family getaway. You can use the computer to show the kids pictures of a few places to choose from and research activities to do once you get there. For extra fun, have them start a small scrapbook with pictures or drawings of things they want to do over the summer or on vacation.
Need some tips for weaving in educational fun over the summer? Check out this post about preventing the summer slide with educational activities!
21. Get the Neighbors Together for a Snowball Fight
Snowball fights are so much more fun when there are plenty of people involved! Get the neighbors (or your nearby family) in on the fun by inviting them to your backyard or the park for an all-out snowball war.
22. Bring the Snow Indoors (Kind Of)
Use your leftover “snow” from Christmas decorating (or buy some here) to make a blanket of snow in the living room to lie on while you watch TV or movies together. The kids will love feeling like they’re lying on snow when it’s too cold to play outside.
23. Make Snow Slime
Instead of sticking to the same slime recipe you’ve made hundreds of times already, why not try snow slime? This Instant Snow is one of the ingredients you’ll need to make a fluffy, unique slime that feels like snow. It even includes the recipe, so you’ll be all ready to go.
24. Have a Winter Fashion Show
Have everyone bundle up in their favorite boots, jackets, scarves, and other winter gear in a winter fashion show down the hall. Don’t forget to take runway photos!
25. Make S’mores in the Fireplace
If you have a fireplace, you can always use it to roast marshmallows for S’mores without needing to brave the cold weather. The kids will love building their own S’mores – and eating them! These marshmallow roasting sticks will make sure their hands stay safe.
26. Start a Snowy Football Game
Bundle up in your snow gear and head outside for a friendly family football game! For some reason, it’s even more fun in the snow.
27. Visit an Indoor Water Park
When you’re at your wits end with seemingly endless winter days, then pack the family up and drive to an indoor water park. They’re always toasty warm, so it feels like you’ve just stepped into an alternate summer universe and can finally bare your bikini body. The indoor water park is one of my favorite places for taking a break from the cold and reminding myself that spring and summer aren’t too far around the corner.
I want to know which of these winter activities for kids you’ll be trying this winter, and what others you’d add to the list! Let me know in a comment down below.
Amy is a mom of two, freelance writer, and blog manager who works with family-focused businesses to improve their content strategies. You can find her published work on Reader’s Digest Online, MSN, Niche, Frugal For Less, and other lifestyle publications.