Having a hard time getting your older child out to play in winter’s sand? When building a snowman just isn’t cool enough, here are some fun ideas to get your older kids active in the snow.
1. Snow tubing or tobogganing (it never gets old!)
This is the perfect activity for kids of all ages. The bonus is that with your older ones, you don’t always have to do all the work. Make your way to your nearest hill, bring a helmet, warm clothes, a safe and steerable sled, and pack some snacks and some hot chocolate. Make it a friendly competition—the slowest down the hill has to pull the other up the hill!
Or you can even make a day of it: Hop in the car and drive around, stopping at every slideable hill you see to race down it!
We recommend ensuring your child wears a helmet before participating in snow activities such as sledding, snow tubing, or tobogganing. Here are some tips on choosing the right size and type for your child.
Also, ensure hills are clear of hazards such as trees or signposts. Here are some elements you should consider when checking for safety before sliding:
- Your hill shouldn’t be too steep and there should be enough flat area at the bottom to glide to a stop.
- Steer clear of hills that have vehicles nearby (parking lots or streets).
- Watch for hazards such as trees, signposts, fences, or water (frozen or not).
- Check the hill for rocks, poles, or trees.
- Keep sledding activities to daylight hours so hazards are clearly visible.
You can even make this part of the routine: everyone takes two minutes to observe the hill and surroundings, performs a safety check, spots hazards, and assesses if it’s safe. When all agree that it looks safe, it’s time to take off!
2. A twist on geocaching
If the words “treasure hunt” no longer capture your child’s attention like they used to, geocaching may be the perfect way to embark on an epic outdoor mission, with the help of your child’s favourite thing—technology!
1. A device with GPS
2. A geocaching app
3. A pencil to record with in the log book
4. A treasure to exchange with your discovery in the cache
Make sure you dress warmly and always let someone know when and where you’re going. You may need to pack some tools like a shovel or screwdriver for frozen containers.
Note: Cold weather can cause batteries to drain and pens to freeze. Bring some extra batteries for your device and a pencil to write with instead of a pen.
Is there enough snow on the ground to throw on some snowshoes instead of walking?
3. Make a snowy obstacle course
Get creative and pile and pack snow up high to make walls, tunnels, or ramps. Set up some targets along the way to throw snowballs at at various points during the obstacle course. Make some creative challenges, such as stopping to make snow angels or using a shovel to move piles of snow from one end of the course to the other.
Here are some ideas for your obstacle course:
- Build a snowman
- Throw snowballs at a target
- Trudge through a huge pile of snow
- Jump over different-sized mounds of snow
- Make snow angels
- Move three shovels of snow from one side of the course to the other
- Pull your opponent on a sled across the finish line
4. Do you want to build a snow sculpture?
A snowman may be much too simple for your budding artist. What about picking a favourite book or show character and creating a winter sculpture of it? Here are some ideas to inspire you to get started.
You can add some food colouring, costumes, or give your character glow sticks for eyes!
5. Forget tree forts! Make an epic snow fort
Have your kids always begged you for a tree fort, but it just wasn’t going to happen? They can work on building their own snow fort… and it could take them days to finish! You can find some awesome ideas online for building snow castles, giant ramps to sled down, snow slides, etc.
Watch this video together before getting started for a good general tutorial:
Just remember to always be careful when creating tunnels or any area with a roof, and have your kids play with others rather than alone.
6. Snow angels… on a mission!
Sure, your kids are now pros at making snow angels—but how many can they make? Bring out the competitive edge in your older kids by finding a wide-open space, setting the timer, and seeing how many snow angels they can run around and make. You might even want to join in on the fun, too.
Your arms and legs will feel the burn but rolling around in the white stuff will be sure to cool you down and put a smile on everyone’s face.
Another idea for your artistic child is to decorate your best snow angel: use props, food dye, lights, whatever you have on hand to make the most creative-looking snow angel! This can even be the perfect way to start or finish off your super-fun snow day with your older kid.
7. Yukigassen: Japanese snowball fight
This snowball fight/sport has taken off in Japan, where tournaments are held all over the country, particularly in Japan’s coldest region, Hokkaido. It’s even catching on here in Canada! The words “yuki” and “gassen” literally translate to “snow” and “battle.”
The sport involves two teams; each player throws snowballs at the opponents and tries to capture the other team’s flag. It’s a game that blends strategy, teamwork, and it’s kind of a marriage of dodgeball and Capture the Flag… in the snow!
To play this game properly, each player will need a helmet and gloves. We also recommend pulling out some snow goggles for this one or a hockey helmet that has that added face protection!
Each team plants a flag on their side of the court, and teams may build snow walls for protection. Here is a visual to help you imagine the setup:
The game can be quite competitive, but we recommend keeping it friendly and applying certain rules such as no hitting people with snowballs above the waist. You can decide whether players who’ve been hit are eliminated or can get back in the game after a decided-upon time-out period.
Also, make sure you have the right kind of snow in your region: not too icy, no possible rocks, etc. Set a time limit per game (three or five minutes) to let everyone get their bearings and take breaks, also allowing time for adults to check in on everyone’s comfort.
If health and safety guidelines allow it, this is the perfect game to invite family and friends to join in on!