Kids love the winter. Embrace these snow-friendly activities to add to their fun and make it through to spring.
1. Make snow angels
No need to wait for sticky snow to make snow angels! Your child can lay back in any undisturbed patch of snow and wave their arms and legs like they’re doing jumping jacks. This will create the silhouette of an angel. If you join in the fun, you can make a whole family of snow angels together. When your child is done, pull them up so they don’t ruin their masterpiece. Snow angels can even be decorated like snowmen with buttons, pinecones, and pebbles.
2. Make snowmen
What would winter be without snowmen? Instead of making one big snowman, try making a few little ones. The building process will be faster and more fun for your child. Plus, they can bring their creations to life by setting up scenes: snowmen having a picnic, sleeping on beds of branches, or dropping their heads in the snow! The only limit is their imagination. You can also show your child how to make snow caterpillars, snakes, monsters, and other creatures. Make sure to have snowman accessories (corks, twigs, scarves, pebbles, etc.) handy so your child can give their creations some personality (link in French).
3. Make hot chocolate
Hot chocolate is the perfect treat after playing outside in the cold. Making it from scratch is simple! Mix a little cocoa powder and sugar into hot milk, and you’re done. You can also add cinnamon, vanilla, or cayenne pepper to taste. If you’d rather use a store-bought mix, add milk instead of water for a creamier drink. To make your treat more festive, top it with whipped cream, ice cream, white chocolate shavings, or mini marshmallows.
Recipe for homemade hot chocolate (French only)
4. Shovel together
While you may find shovelling a tedious chore, your little one will love to help out. To start, give them a kid-sized shovel. If the snow is heavy, they can simply push it into a mound as though they’re sweeping. Then, you can take over and shovel it out of the way. If your child doesn’t want to shovel with you, give them a few plastic buckets and ask them to fill them with snow to make a castle somewhere nearby. The more snow they use for their castle, the less you have to shovel!
5. Look out for frostbite
In very cold temperatures, blood doesn’t circulate as well and has a harder time reaching our extremities (i.e., our cheeks, ears, chin, nose, hands, and feet). If you aren’t careful, you can get frostbite: your skin turns red, stings, and in severe cases, eventually loses its colour. To treat frostbite, you need to get indoors, gently remove the clothing covering the affected area, and warm it with your hands, under your arms, or in lukewarm water. It’s very important not to rub the frostbitten skin. Don’t apply snow or any greasy substance to the affected area. You also should never submerge the area in hot or cold water. For more information, read the following article: Frostbite (French only)
6. Do family activities
Winter is truly a season to be enjoyed as a family. Take pictures of your snowmen in the yard or park, your adventures at the local ice rink, and your afternoons spent sledding together. You can also film a short video with your smartphone. Ask your child to say the date and why you’re making the video. If they have positive associations with winter, your child will grow up liking this snowy season. Thick hats and runny noses are perhaps less appealing than summer tans and bathing suits, but your child will have good memories of all the fun they had with you.
7. Go sledding
Kids can’t resist sledding down a snowy hill—especially if you do it with them! The best thing about this activity is that you can do it no matter your child’s age. Simply tuck your youngest kid between your legs and push off! A small slope is all you need to have fun. Sledding is also a great way to stay warm, since you need to climb back up to the top every time!
8. Play winter dress-up
Dressing kids for winter can be a battle! To make things a little easier, why not turn it into a game? You could have a “who’s ready first?” race, or hang a sign in the entryway showing what order to put on winter clothing: hat, mittens, coat, and boots. This type of visual can be reassuring to your child and help them become more independent. Setting aside more time in the mornings for getting dressed can also reduce family stress. That way, there’s no need to shout at your child to hurry up. A small sand timer can also help your little one visualize how much time they have to get ready.
9. Have some frozen fun
Kids love playing in the snow. But playing with ice can be pretty cool, too!
- Treasure hunt. Make “gems” by mixing coloured Jell-O powder and water and pouring it into an ice tray. Pop it in the freezer. Once the gems are set, you can unmold them and hide them outside for a winter treasure hunt.
- Frozen soap bubbles. When the air is very cold, blown bubbles stay close to the ground and freeze. Your child can watch them turn to ice and have a blast breaking them.
- Ice building blocks. Fill empty milk or juice cartons with water and let them freeze outside overnight. Once they’re solid, remove the moulds and you’ll have ice blocks your little one can use to build their own ice “sculptures,” no chainsaw required.
10. Play outside
Here are three ideas to motivate your child to go outside:
- Take their dolls and stuffed animals for a sleigh ride. Is your little one refusing to go outside because they can’t stand to leave their favourite dolls and stuffed animals behind? Offer to dress them up warmly and take them for a sleigh ride!
- Break out the sand toys. Grab your buckets, sandcastle moulds, shovels, and plastic dishes! Your child will be delighted to make snow cakes, towers, and forts with your help.
- Make an obstacle course. While you’re on a walk, create an obstacle course for your child using things in your environment. For example, you could ask them to run around a tree, jump over a small pile of snow, touch a bench, walk on a line, etc.
11. Help your child blow their nose
Cold season can be miserable for congested kids who can’t blow their own noses yet. Rinsing their nose with salt water and using a baby nasal aspirator can help. Around age 2 ½, toddlers can start learning how to blow their own nose. Here are some games to help your little one understand how to blow air from their nose:
Have them blow into a straw while blocking the other end with your finger. This will force them to let the air out through their nose.
While standing in front of a mirror, hold a feather under their nose and ask them to blow to make their moustache move.
Place a cotton ball on a table and ask them to blow through their nose to make it move.
With a bit of practice, they’ll learn to blow forcefully into a tissue—just like a big kid!
12. Cuddle up and read
In the winter, looking at books with your child can be a wonderful bonding experience. Warm and snug on the sofa, you can read and watch the snow fall. To make the activity even more magical, why not go read outdoors? Grab a warm blanket and some hot chocolate and choose a story. Any favourite book or magazine will do, but one with a winter or snowy theme is ideal. Here are some titles you can borrow from the library or find at the bookstore:
Dans mon beau sapin, il y a . . . Written by M. Perreault. Illustrated by M. Poignonec. Les 400 coups, 2021, 24 pp.
Winter Lullaby. Written by D. White. Illustrated by R. Kaulitzki. Scholastic, 2021, 32 pp.
Snow Doves. Written by N. Hartry. Illustrated by G. Grimard. Second Story Press, 2020, 32 pp.
Petits pas dans la neige. Written by A. Vintze. Illustrated by C. Merola. Éditions de l’Isatis, 2021, 24 pp.
Première neige. Written and illustrated by S. Gendron. Les Éditions de la Bagnole, 2018, 32 pp.
13. Keep track of mittens
What parent hasn’t had to deal with missing or mismatched mittens? Keeping track of mittens is a challenge with young children. You could buy a few pairs of identical mittens, but that’s not the most cost-effective solution. A better idea is to sew a mitten to either end of a long thread of yarn. Next, thread the yarn through the sleeves of your child’s coat, so one mitten hangs slightly out of each sleeve. You can also teach your child to always put their mittens away in the same spot, like in their hat, which they then tuck into their coat sleeve.
14. Go for a walk after sundown
During winter, it’s already dark come suppertime. Walking around outside after dark is seen as a big-kid privilege, so your child will feel all grown up if you take them out. Grab a flashlight and explore the neighbourhood with them. Kids love to see their neighbourhood in a new light, and since there are always a few neighbours who keep their Christmas lights up until spring, there’s sure to be a little extra magic along your walk.
15. Make window art
To add a little colour to your windows, help your child make paper stained glass. Have them to cut or rip different-coloured tissue paper into various shapes. Then, stick the pieces onto wax paper or parchment paper using a blend of white glue and water applied with a paintbrush. Let it dry completely on a sheet of plastic wrap. Once dry, the paper stained glass should be rigid enough to hang in your window. Younger children can draw directly on parchment paper with crayons or markers.
16. Make snow paint
Is the monochrome landscape getting you down? Brighten up winter with this homemade paint!
Materials: water, a container (spray bottle or squeeze bottle), coloured Jell-O powder
Thoroughly mix the Jell-O powder and water. There’s no need to measure—you can eyeball the quantities. Just be aware that if your child wants to make detailed drawings, you should use less water to make the mixture thicker and more syrupy. The less water you use, the brighter the colour will be. Unlike food colouring, which stains, Jell-O washes off easily. Once the powder is fully dissolved, pour the mixture in a spray bottle or squeeze bottle. Your child can use it to “dress” a snowman or paint a picture in the snow.
17. Ask questions
Ask your little one questions while you walk. For example, you could ask them to find something red in the street or identify a sound. If they don’t know, give them options: “What do you think, is that a bird singing or a baby crying?” You can also look for tracks in the snow together and ask your child to guess what made them.
18. Plan a photo rally
Snow or shine, this is a simple and fun way to teach your little one about the world around them. Ask them to find five items that you took pictures of on the sly. For example: the tree in your yard, your child’s snowman, your big shovel, the stairs, etc. If your child is older, photograph a detail rather than the whole object, such as a single branch, the shovel’s handle, the snowman’s nose, or the stair railing. If your child enjoys the game, create a scavenger hunt! It’s a great way for them to explore a wooded park or your neighbourhood. Make sure you give them the photos one at a time. Give them a small reward at the end, such as a steamy mug of hot chocolate or a big hug. Happy hunting!
19. Stay safe
Here are some helpful wintertime safety tips:
Children under the age of 5 should never ride a sled alone. It’s also best to sit on the sled feet first, facing the bottom of the slope. Lying down increases the risk of head and back injuries.
A bike helmet isn’t as effective as a ski or hockey helmet in the winter. Bike helmets have not been tested at temperatures colder than -10°C. In addition, they must be replaced after each impact.
Kids love making snow forts. However, it’s important to build them far away from the road and anywhere snowplows might go.
It’s better to avoid baby carriers that go on your back in the winter because babies are less protected from the wind and cold. Front carriers are best.
The Canadian Paediatric Society recommends keeping children indoors when the temperature hits -27°C or below, with or without the wind chill. At this temperature, uncovered skin can get frostbite.
20. Stay inside when the weather is frightful
Stuck inside during a blizzard? Savour the moment and do something special! Here are a few ideas to pass the time:
- Write a short story, then dress up your kids as the characters so you can take pictures of them to illustrate your book. You’ll cherish your book for years to come.
- Make a collective work of art. Take out some crayons, paintbrushes, glue, and old magazines. Cover the table with an old tablecloth and spread out a large sheet of paper. The whole family can join in by drawing pictures, cutting and pasting magazine clippings, and so on.
- Play reverse hide-and-seek. Also known as Sardines, this is a great game to play with a group. First, one person runs and hides while the others count to 20. Then, everyone pairs up and looks for the hidden person. If a team of seekers finds the hider, they have to stay quiet and hide with them! Soon, most of the group is squished into a tiny hiding place, trying not to laugh so they don’t get found! The last person to find the group becomes the next one to hide. Little ones love this game!
21. Buy second-hand
More and more parents are buying second-hand clothing and sports equipment for their children. Classified ad sites, thrift stores, and parent swap groups on Facebook are great for finding clothes at low prices, often in very good condition. Buying second-hand can also be an opportunity to talk about the environment with your child. Remember, you can also borrow books and toys from your local library or toy library.
22. Dress for the cold
To enjoy winter, kids need to dress warmly. Here are a few tips to keep your little one cozy:
- Cover your child’s ears, hands, and feet. Children lose almost half their body heat through their extremities.
- Dress your child in several layers of clothing. Many light layers will keep them warmer than a single big sweater. Make sure your child’s clothes and boots are big enough, as the air between the layers acts as an insulator.
- Choose the right fabrics. Synthetic fibres (e.g., nylon) are very good at retaining heat. Cotton takes a long time to dry, and your child may be cold if their clothes are wet from snow or sweat. Wool, on the other hand, is a good lightweight insulator, and keeps you warm even when wet.
23. Create some winter magic
Children are easily enchanted. The tiniest little thing can add magic to a winter day:
Secretly prepare a thermos of hot chocolate before going outside to play with your child. Then, surprise them with snack time in the snow!
Draw a heart or a happy face on their frosty bedroom window.
During a snowfall, lay a black piece of clothing outside and examine the snowflakes that land on it. Look closely: each flake is unique!
If you have a power outage, enjoy dinner or storytime by candlelight.
Put your child’s robe or socks in the dryer while they’re in the bath so they can bundle up when they dry off.
24. Avoid a sticky situation
Ever been dared to stick your tongue to a cold metal pole? Trust us, it’s a bad idea! But if your child ever gets their tongue stuck to a park swing pole or your balcony railing, here’s how to get them out of trouble. Keep in mind that it’s not their skin that’s fused on. Your child’s saliva froze and stuck when it touched the cold metal. Never try to pull your child’s tongue free, as you might injure them. Instead, pour some lukewarm water on their tongue to unstick it. No lukewarm water on hand? Melt some snow in your hands. The warmer water will melt your child’s frozen saliva and free their little tongue.
25. Make a Yeti costume
Like all mythical creatures, the Yeti, or Abominable Snowman, fascinates children. Here’s an easy crafting project to transform your little one into a snow monster for a day:
Materials: a cardboard box, a marker, scissors, and two pieces of string.
Take your child’s winter boots. Place them on the cardboard and draw a huge monster-sized footprint around each boot.
Make a pencil mark on either side of each boot.
Cut out the footprints, then poke holes at the pencil marks using the tip of your scissors.
Place a string under the first footprint and thread each end through the holes.
Tie the string over the boot.
Repeat with the other side. There you have it: your child is ready to make Yeti tracks in the snow!
26. Hit the ice
In Quebec, winter is more fun on skates! Many parks have their own outdoor rinks. If the weather isn’t cooperating, you can also skate at the local arena. Check the free skating times so you know when to go. If you know how to skate, your child can learn with you while holding onto a chair. If you want (and have the space for it), why not build your own ice rink in your yard or alley?
Your child will like winter more if you enjoy it, too.
To make the most of the winter weather, you need to be active outside.
There are tons of fun activities to do with your kids: make snowmen, go skating or sledding, build forts, and more.
Source:Naître et grandir magazine, January–February 2017
Copywriting: The Naître et grandir team
Updated: November 2022
Photos (in order): Marie-Ève Nault, iStock.com/Imgorthand, iStock.com/Visualcommunications, iStock.com/Imgorthand, Shutterstock/Andrew Mayovsky, Maxim Morin (snow painting and boy on skates) and iStock.com/Vnosokin