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9 Ideas to Keep Kids Active during the Winter Months

By Gina Gibson, Fraser Occupational Therapist and Sensory Inclusion Specialist • indoor activities for kids during the winter, indoor activities for kids, keeping kids active in the winter, activities for kids with autism, things to do in the winter for kids, keeping your kids busy during the winter, entertaining your kids during the winter • December 17, 2020

Winter weather can make us feel like curling up, warm and cozy, inside. While there is nothing wrong with sipping hot chocolate and enjoying time on the couch, remaining active — even when the weather turns — is good for your body. It’s also particularly important for your child’s well-being.

If kids are inactive for too long, their sensory systems start to feel neglected. This can cause your child’s energy levels to spike, and they might have a harder time calming down.

Here are 9 ideas to help keep your child active this winter.

Indoor Activities

  1. Bring some snow inside and create a sensory bucket of snow. If you don’t have a bucket to use, you can use a tray, plate or platter. You can even put snow on the table if you’re okay with cleaning up a mess later. If there isn’t snow, use shaving cream as pretend snow. Then grab a utensil — like a paintbrush, pencil, etc. — to practice writing letters and numbers in the snow.
  2. You can also put water and food coloring in a squeeze bottle to “paint” the snow different colors. Squeezing the bottle strengthens your child’s hands and fingers.
  3. Help your child improve their dressing skills by seeing how fast they can get into their snow gear! Have your child put on his or her snow pants, boots, gloves, hat and coat. You can time your child or have him or her “race” you!
  4. Create a frozen treasure hunt for your child. Place some small toys into an ice tray with water, and put these in the freezer overnight. Have your child squeeze a spray bottle filled with warm water to melt the ice and free their toy. This helps strengthen their hands and fingers.

Outdoor Activities

  1. Many traditional outdoor winter activities are great at providing sensory stimulation. Some fun examples are making snow angels, building snow forts and creating a snowman.
  2. You and your child can take turns pulling each other on a sled. This helps your child build strength, and because it’s a resistive activity, it also helps them calm down. Bonus points if you’re pulling someone up a hill!
  3. Try building a snow obstacle course! You and your child can roll your bodies up and over a mound of snow, army crawl on your bellies and then do a big jump into a snow pile. All your child’s winter gear adds weight, which provides resistive, aka calming input.
  4. Have your child help you shovel next time a snowstorm hits. Children often like to help adults because it makes them feel more grown-up. It’s also another resistive exercise, which helps kids burn energy and relax. And with all the snowfall in Minnesota, you should have ample opportunities this winter.
  5. Go on a winter nature hike, and do a scavenger hunt with your child. See how many different colors you can find in nature, look for animals or animal tracks or observe which trees are still green and which aren’t. Have your child collect fallen twigs or pinecones, and bring these items home for a craft project. You could even have him or her search for a nature item for each letter of the alphabet.

You and your family can do many fun activities during the winter, both inside and out of your home. Staying active is a positive outlet for kids’ energy, and it is good for their well-being.