As the weather gets colder, keeping your preschooler engaged and entertained can get challenging. However, don’t let the colder months stop you from planning fun and educational outdoor activities in the winter.
While it can be tempting to hunker down indoors when the temperatures outside start to drop, outdoor play offers multiple benefits for children. Since children have lots of energy to burn, getting them outdoors is a great way to help them stay calm and focused when they’re back indoors.
Plus, outside time in the winter helps children develop their gross motor skills, learn about their environment, and express themselves freely and boldly.
What are good winter outdoor activities for children?
Winter is a great time to get outdoors and explore the cold weather. These winter outdoor activities are both fun and educational for preschool-age children.
Winter Nature Walk
A winter nature walk is an excellent way for preschoolers to get some exercise and fresh air while also learning about the world around them. You can point out and identify things of interest as you walk, and keep a record of their experience with a notebook and/or camera. Collect leaves, pinecones, and other natural objects to take back and study.
After the walk, provide an area, such as a sensory panel or a sensory table with removable bins, where the children can touch, feel, and smell the items they’ve collected.
Explore Winter Wildlife
Winter is a great time to teach your preschoolers about the different animals that are active at different times of the year.
Make the most of your wintry nature walk by engaging in the following activities.
- Look for animal tracks in the snow and see if you can identify what animals made them.
- Bring a pair of binoculars to help spot birds and other small animals.
- Look for animals that are eating. Watch birds feeding on berries or squirrels gathering nuts.
Winter bird watching with preschoolers can be a great way to teach them about the different birds in your area. Set up a feeder nearby and provide a bird identification book to help children learn about the birds they see.
Making homemade bird feeders is easier than you think! For a simple recipe, spread a mixture of peanut butter and birdseed on a pinecone. Hang the pinecone outside and wait for birds to come!
Winter Scavenger Hunt
A nature scavenger hunt provides a great way to get children excited about the outdoors. Give them a list of things to find, such as acorns, pinecones, leaves, and rocks. Or you can download a printable scavenger hunt.
Learn about Evergreen Trees
Evergreen trees offer sights, smells, and sensations for children to explore. A lesson on evergreen trees can help preschoolers understand the changing seasons and the importance of trees in the ecosystem. Look for animals in or around evergreen trees, such as squirrels, birds, and deer.
Snow and Ice Experiments
Teach preschoolers about snow and ice science by conducting fun experiments. If you have snow available, collect some in cups to observe how quickly it melts in different temperatures. Or, try freezing water in containers of various sizes. Predict and find out which ones freeze faster. Then, experiment with ways to melt it back.
You can also encourage your preschoolers to build a snowman together. They can make a mini-snowman out of a snowball and some sticks.
Building a snowman or constructing an ice fort helps children understand the properties of snow and ice. Also, it allows them to practice fine motor skills as they help to pack the snow, decorate the snowman, or build the fort. Lastly, working together strengthens social skills.
Blow Freezing Bubbles
Preschoolers can still enjoy blowing bubbles in the winter. Except it’s a totally different experience! The bubbles freeze and turn into ice. This experiment works best if the bubble solution is near freezing but still in liquid form.
Creative Snowy Art Projects
Art projects for preschoolers are a great way to get them excited about the winter season. Try the following ideas with your students:
- Use food coloring to make colorful designs in the snow.
- Make patterns and shapes in the snow using sticks, stones, or cookie cutters.
- Collect leaves and pinecones to make a winter collage. Place it in a shallow container, pour water over it, and freeze it.
Instead of a snowball fight, prepare a snowball target toss. Use real snowballs or improvise with plastic balls. You can set up targets with hula hoops or paint a bullseye.
Make snow angels. Not only is it a fun way to decorate the playground area, but it’s also an excellent way for children to work on their gross motor skills.
Go sledding or ice skating for a classic winter activity that’s perfect for preschoolers. Keep safety in mind with these activities.
Winter Clothing Sorting
Clothes aren’t just for wearing. For preschoolers, it can also provide a fun sorting activity. Provide a variety of gloves, mittens, and long socks. Encourage your children to find and collect matching pairs. Encourage them to use their comparing and contrasting skills
Tips for Outdoor Play in the Winter
Wear Proper Winter Attire
Be sure to dress warmly and in layers so that you and your preschoolers can stay comfortable while you explore and engage in fun activities in colder temperatures. This includes hats, gloves, and boots.
Take Breaks and Hydrate Often
Ensure children are well hydrated before you head outdoors. Even in the winter, children can easily become dehydrated. Also, take regular breaks indoors to prevent cold-related stress or injuries.
Create an Outdoor Classroom
During winter, and all year long, outdoor classroom space can provide a nurturing environment for learning and expression. Contact us today to learn more about creating an outdoor classroom with our learning equipment for preschool children, or call (800) 541-1954 to discuss our many options.