A father and his son carry firewood to their house in the winter.

Outdoor winter chores for 7 to 10 year olds

The winter months can be downright rough for kids staying and enjoying being active, especially since much of our time is spent indoors. Snow days, cold-weather days, and holidays can sometimes lay the groundwork for too much sedentary time combined with too much tech time, an adverse combination for our kids and our minds and bodies during the cold. 

According to the Canadian 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, children and youth should be getting an accumulated 60 minutes of exercise per day, even in the winter months. 

Admittedly, keeping kids active in the winter is more of a challenge. In addition to the sick season, extreme storms, temperatures, torrential rain, snow, and canceled school days can make it difficult for kids to get the activity they need during the winter. But getting back on track after any derailment in activity is vital. Generally, kids enjoy being active and having a routine, especially when it comes to outdoor activities and even when it comes to completing chores.

When winter weather allows you to have enjoyable outdoor activities, it’s essential to encourage kids to play outside, exercise, and enjoy the ideal weather. Consider encouraging them by assigning them a simple outdoor task to help the family. Giving your child a simple age-appropriate chore is a positive way to help them help you. Assigning kids outdoor chores helps keep them active, breathe fresh winter air, and have them pitch in on family duties. It could even be the prompt they need to enjoy the outdoors and gain some of those recommended active time minutes. That’s a win for everyone in the family. 

Here are some easy age-appropriate outdoor chores for 7 year olds and some more involved ones for kids up to 10 years old to encourage everyone to stay motivated to move.

Take out the trash and recycle

Carrying the household trash to the outdoor trash cans and emptying the recycling bin into the larger one are tasks that can be easy for an older child. Younger children can get the hang of it if they’re strong enough to lift the bag over the side. Have a trial run initially to show them how. First, have them help you cinch the sack and tie it, then have them help take it out to the trash bins. You want to be sure they’re strong enough to hold the trash bag to avoid unnecessary trash spillage, and if they’re not, this is a good task for them to only assist you. Or consider this chore a team carry-and-lift job, where older children complete the task and younger children carry smaller wastebasket-size bags, open and hold doors for exiting and entering, and place lids on the cans. Remind them to secure the lids tightly to keep animals out and the trash in.

Clear paths by shovelling snow

If you have snow in your area, shovelling is an ideal way to have your kids help out with clearing the sidewalk or building a path through the snowy outdoors. (Though this could be a time-consuming task for kids!) Make it a systematic team-building task by encouraging them to work together to construct and engineer the best way to clear the driveway or the path. If you only have one shovel, remind them to take turns between resting and shovelling. If your kids have their own shovels, this chore might spur a sense of ownership. Remember to allow them to take breaks for snow angels and give them props for helping you get your car out of the driveway in the morning.

A girl wearing a snowsuit shovels snow.

Refill bird feeders

A bird feeder inspires engagement with nature and the great outdoors year-round. Feeding birds is a great way for kids to engage with nature, especially in the winter. If you have bird feeders, have children help maintain them by refilling them with bird seed. They’ll enjoy measuring and pouring the seed, especially when a small spill only means more seed for the birds. They’ll start spotting the birds feeding throughout the winter and end up alerting you when it’s time for a refill. This small job teaches them about their local ecosystem and helps them take active ownership of their house and environment. 

Retrieve incoming mail from the box

In the days of text and email, nothing is more exciting than getting a letter in the mail—until you have to brave the cold to obtain it. Though the colder temps can be daunting, sending children to grab the mail out of the box or place it in is a simple and fun way to get them outside and moving––even if it’s just for a few minutes. Have them race to the mailbox and back, or have a relay and retrieve only one piece at a time to bring to the finish line (you!). Regardless of whether you play Red Light, Green Light to the box or pass each piece off during a relay, grabbing the mail daily gets your kids involved in a daily task and helps them enjoy needed moments of outdoor time.

Clean porches

Grass, snow, mud, and dirt from wind and shoes tend to collect on porches and entryways. Outdoor toys, balls, and sports equipment also show up in these areas if life is busy and kids have been hard at play with a rotation of toys. An easy chore for kids is to help them clear and clean this area. First, have them collect all the toys and anything else that has accumulated and take it to its correct place. Then, have them sweep the porch or entryway. If your child is old enough and can operate a leaf blower, having them blow the grass and dirt might be a welcome adventure rather than just using a broom. 

A child sweeps leaves off the front porch using a broom.

Gather sticks and fallen limbs

Clearing the yard of any debris, such as sticks, small branches, or fallen limbs, after strong winds or a storm is an excellent opportunity to rope your kiddos in on the fun. As they help with yard work and pick up pieces, consider having them count the sticks and limbs as they gather them and make a fun competition out of seeing who can create the tallest pile. Combine all the piles at the end and let the children choose which dry and short pieces would be best for kindling when starting a fire. 

Help haul firewood

Having older children haul larger pieces of firewood and younger children carry smaller pieces or kindling is a great way to have them show their strength. Give them gloves to avoid splinters, and remind them they’re helping keep their family warm with this chore. The promise of the glow and ambiance of a warm fire might be all they need for motivation. 

Whatever the task you need help with, having children contribute—even in the chilly winter weather—motivates an active lifestyle, encourages activity, burns energy, and encourages movement and focus for all. Chores for the whole family, especially when completed outdoors, inspire a sense of community and foster helpful attitudes. 

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