A mom, dad, and their toddler play outside in the snow with their husky.

10 ways to beat the winter blahs through outdoor play

Editor’s note: This post was updated Jan. 3, 2023.

As us Canadians know, winter here is long, dark, and cold. The best way to beat the winter blahs? Get outside and play! Here are 10 ways to do just that.

1. Try winter stargazing

Bundle up the family in snowsuits, hats, toques, and the whole kit-and-kaboodle, and head outside on a clear evening for some winter stargazing.

Don’t just make it any casual neighbourhood walk. Avoid areas with streetlamps and head out to a conservation area or a dark field close by to take in all the beauty the sky has to offer. Bring headlamps to guide you along your path until you find the perfect place to stare upward.

Don’t be intimidated by the idea of stargazing. Even if you can’t name more than a few constellations, you can appreciate a starry sky on a clear night. There are also a plethora of apps and websites to help you find planets and patterns in the stars

2. Try a new winter sport

Is there a winter sport that you’ve always wanted to try that you’ve never gotten around to? Perhaps this is your year! From skiing and snowboarding to ice skating or tobogganing, there are many snow sports that you can dive into.

While equipment for some of these sports can seem costly and overwhelming, there are plenty of facilities out there that offer rentals and lessons. If that’s not an option, check out second-hand stores for already used and lower-priced items.

3. Try some summer fun in the snow

There are certain outdoor activities we tend to associate with the summer months, like playing lawn darts, horseshoes, or setting up a fun obstacle course during a Sunday family picnic. With that said, these and many other outdoor activities can still be done in the winter months too! Make it a game to see which summer games can be adapted for ice and snow.

There are plenty of ideas for children’s winter obstacle courses online. Plus you can replace hula hoops, pool noodles, and other “props” with colourful snow paint!

4. Hop on a fat-tire bike

Speaking of summer fun in the winter, a fat-tire bike is just like a regular bike, but with oversized tires and rims designed to allow for bike riding in the snow, as well as mud, sand, and bogs. It’s a perfect way to shake your blahs with a good workout, and ideal for avid bike riders who don’t want to give up what they love because of a little snow. Why not see if there are some available for rent in your area?

5. Blow ice bubbles

For those with little ones, blowing and chasing bubbles in your front or backyard in the snow is a great way to get outside and stay active. They’ll enjoy the activity, running around, fresh air, and watching those beautiful bubbles freeze and stick to the snow!

A young brother and sister run through a snowy field together. They're both wearing winter jackets and snow pants, and have smiles on their faces.

6. Play frozen freeze tag 

Pardon the pun, but you’ll do anything but “freeze” with a good old-fashioned game of freeze tag in the snow. Head to an open area in your neighbourhood, and let the games begin! You’ll be active, outdoors, and create some great family memories.  

7. Be a good neighbour

Do something this winter that’s good for your body, mind, and soul! Sometimes the best way to beat the blahs is by doing a good deed. Bundle up the family after a hefty snowfall, grab your shovels, and clear up your drive, as well as others on your street. The feeling of knowing you’ve made someone’s life a little easier will add a bounce to your step. Plus, the physical activity itself is sure to help build some arm muscles. Make sure to stretch before and after!

8. Go on a winter scavenger hunt

Preschoolers love to keep busy and they love being outdoors. Scavenger hunts are a go-to activity for birthday parties and other gatherings, so why not do the same in the winter? Try this fun winter scavenger hunt—it comes with a free printable sheet.

9. Go for a snowy hike

Bundle up, find your nearest wooded area, and explore! There’s nothing more stunning than being outdoors after a fresh snowfall. Bring a camera to capture your postcard-like surroundings, and even bring unsalted sunflower seeds to sprinkle on snow. Chickadees love to snack on these, and if you stay still enough, you can place them in the palm of your hand. If you’re lucky, you can experience seeing this sweet little bird up close and personal! 

10. Go to the park

Most families love a nice day at the park in spring, summer, or fall, weather-permitting; however, it can be just as fun in the winter! Just make sure to pack snow pants for the kids, which will make barreling down that snowy slide that much more fun.

Remember that the winter weather may change what your kids can and can’t do on a play structure. While the swing sets will probably be okay to use, if the slides, monkey bars, and other areas of the structure are too icy for play, your kids will have to think of other creative ways to enjoy the park!

If the structure can’t be properly played on, your kids can still have fun at the park in the winter! They could build a snow fort under the structure, or have a snowball fight in and around it. You could build a snowman in the sandbox, or even create a “target” on the play structure where your kids can aim with snowballs. They can have just as much fun at the park in January as they do in July!

Read more about winter play:

6 responses to “10 ways to beat the winter blahs through outdoor play

  1. I completed the first challenge The Five Day Streak. Do I have to screenshot and send to quality for the prize draw?

    1. Hi Christina! Unfortunately, I’m not quite sure what you’re referring to here. We don’t have a current contest on the go. Thanks for reading, however!

  2. A few more options:
    – using snowshoes makes it easier, but regular boots works too: “draw” shapes, pictures or words in the snow using your feet. Find a big open area with fresh snow and let your imagination run wild. Urban dry ponds, school fields, play fields or farmers fields work well. You may even see your creation on the local news (news helicopters). Play a giant game of tic-tac-toe by first drawing the grid, then jumping into the squares to make your mark.
    – build snow creatures: beat the blahs of a traditional snowman and try to build a snow cat, alligator, flamingo or dragon. Bonus points if your creation can be used as a play structure after (crawl under, climb over or slide down).
    – freeze blocks of coloured water in various cups, bowls, etc (or clear water with things like lego, plastic toys or even berries) and then build with them. Can you create an igloo? A castle? How high can they be stacked before they fall over? What happens when a block goes down the slide?

    A saying I keep in mind in the winter: “if you choose not to find joy in the cold and snow, you will have less joy in your life but still the same amount of snow and cold.”

  3. Every Kindergarten teacher in Ontario, Canada should be sending this link to our families during the Covid-19 lockdown. I am so pleased to see the initiatives of Active For Life during this time of “indoors and online learning”- exactly the opposite of what young children need to learn and grow.

    Sincerely Laurie Gashinski, Sir James Whitney School for the Deaf in Belleville, Ontario Canada

    1. Great to get out and be active playing in the snow and doing fun things with the family making snow Angels ,taking pictures,helping neighbors,doing scavenger hunts

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