25+ Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids

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25+ Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids

Get the kiddos outside with this list of the best outdoor winter activities for kids. It may be easy to curl up inside during the cold winter months, but we all know the importance of fresh air for kids and parents. Participating in outdoor adventures is good for everyone’s mental health and avoids cabin fever. By participating in these fun outdoor winter activities you will surely forget about the colder weather. Bundle the kids up and see how many of these best outdoor winter activities for kids you can cross off this winter season. Afterward, curl up under the covers with some hot chocolate!

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Here are our favorite cold weather activities for kids!

  1. Ice Skating: Head to the ice rink. Ice skating is a fun outing for the whole family! There are several ice skating rinks in and around Des Moines. Many with free options. When your finished stop at one of our favorite places for hot cocoa.
  2. Snowball Fights: This is a classic outdoor activity for kids! A great time for older kids and younger children.
  3. Frozen Colored Ice Globes: These are always fun to create and super simple! Fill a balloon up with water, add a few drops of food coloring, and leave them outside overnight. Once they freeze, just cut the balloon off and you’ve got some fun ice globes to display outside around your home. Little kids will love the magic!
  4. Snowman Building: Another classic outdoor activity for kids to do. They can make a classic snowman or you can challenge them to build a different creature like a dog or maybe even a snow monster for them to defeat in a snowball battle! The perfect time to pack snow and use your imagination.
  5. Snow Painting: How do you make snow paint? Easy! Send the kids out with a spray bottle filled with water and some food coloring and see what they create in the snow. You can also place drops of food coloring in certain spots and let little hands create a masterpiece.
  6. Snow Igloo/ Snow fort / Snow Castle Building: Another classic, this is the perfect activity for those wild imaginations. Grab some pails or empty containers and see what the kids can build. Bonus points if they build these fortresses and then have a snowball fight.
  7. Winter Hike: Embrace winter and have the family go on a winter hike in the woods. This can be a fun adventure for everyone and is a great way to have some quality outdoor family time during the cold days. Look for a local trail near you.
  8. Make Bird Feeders: Make some bird feeders for our winter feathered friends. There are lots of different ways to make these! All you need is birdseed, peanut butter, and something to hold it or attach it to. 
  9. Bird Watching: Once you make a bird feeder, your child can do some bird watching. Grab some binoculars! This is a great way for them to learn about birds and the different kinds that are out there and native to the area.
  10. Sledding: This would be a fun afternoon activity to wear the kids out. All you need is a sled and a hill! Of course, snow boots and other snow gear too.
  11. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Scavenger hunts are always a win. Create a nature scavenger hunt for your kids to do. You can pick things for them to find in your own backyard or go on a nature walk at a local park or trail to mix it up!
  12. Animal Track Identifying: Go on a hike and see what animal tracks your kids can find and identify. This is also a great activity for the backyard if you have wildlife nearby. See how many different tracks you can identify.
  13. Snow Ice Cream: There are lots of recipes out there to turn snow into ice cream. Not only will your kids love having this dessert, but it’s also a fun science experiment. Make sure it is fresh snow!
  14. Snow angels: Who doesn’t love snow angels? Have a contest on who can make the best snow angel.
  15. Explore a Local Park: Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy the local parks! Get everyone bundled up and visit a nearby park.
  16. Cross-Country Skiing: Another fun family activity for all whether it be downhill skiing or cross-country skiing, this is a great physical activity for all. If your family is interested in other winter sports, play a game of ice hockey or try snowshoeing.
  17. Winter Obstacle Course: Use the snow and some items around the home such as a cardboard box for this fun outdoor play.
  18. Ice Fishing: There are lots of lakes in the area, so if you’re a fishing family, this could be a fun activity for all to enjoy!
  19. Frozen Bubbles: When the temperatures are really low grab some bubbles and see if you can watch them freeze outside. Or become a scientist and create a snow volcano. Kids of all ages will enjoy this activity.
  20. Glow Stick Hunt: Crack some glow sticks and hide them in the snow in the backyard. When the sun goes down, head out with the kids and see how many they can find.
  21. Geocaching: Geocaching is a treasure hunt using GPS. This would be a fun family activity and a great way to explore Des Moines.
  22. Stargazing: Pick a night (that’s hopefully not too chilly!) and go out in the backyard to do some stargazing. See who can find the brightest star or the most constellations during the Winter weather.
  23. Collect Pine Cones and Decorate Them: This is a fun activity for the crafty kids out there! Have them collect some pine cones and decorate them with whatever art supplies you can find in the house. If it is the holiday season, these could make great gifts for a loved one.
  24. Winter Family Fire: If you have a fire pit, have a family fire one night! Have everyone bundle up, make some smores, and enjoy some time outside by the fire.
  25. Make Ice Decorations for the trees in the backyard: If your kids love art projects they will have so much fun with this activity! Freeze some leaves, paper, or whatever you can find on a muffin tin or ice cube tray in water with some string attached. These can be hung on the trees outside or around the outside of the house.
  26. BONUS! Break Out the Sand Toys: Just because it is summer it does not mean those sandbox/beach toys can’t be used. Send your child out with pails, shovels, dump trucks, and whatever other toys they have for hours of snowy, winter fun.

What are your favorite outdoor winter activities?


Erin Huiatt

Erin is a reliable resource and stepping stone for women and families to find support and make connections within our community. She wants families to feel confident to reach out and ask for help and advice to get pointed in the right direction. She enjoys traveling and exploring with her two children in tow!

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