Winter wonderland of fun

Winter is a great time to explore and have fun outside!

Identify animal tracks in the snow as a way to explore outside in the winter.

Identify animal tracks in the snow as a way to explore outside in the winter.

Winter is a great time to bundle kids up and take them outside to explore. Remember, kids can get cold quicker than adults, so be sure to watch how long you are outdoors. Make sure kids have on appropriate winter clothes such as hats, gloves, mittens, boots and scarves and that coats and pants can handle wetter conditions from snow and ice.

Michigan State University Extension suggests trying these fun activities on your next snow adventure:

  • Snow painting: Use water with drops of food coloring in squeeze bottles and paint pictures on snow.
  • Snowman painting: Use water with drops of food coloring in spray bottles to decorate your snowman or other snow-made art.
  • Freezing bubbles: When it’s below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, use leftover bubble solution to make freezing bubbles. Blow bubbles and catch them on the bubble wand. Wait a few seconds for them to start to freeze and watch them turn into crystal bubbles before they pop.
  • Balloon building: Fill balloons with water and food coloring, tie them off and set them outside to freeze. After they are frozen, peel off the balloon and use the colored shapes to build sculptures outdoors.
  • Outdoor building blocks: Fill ice cube trays or other containers with water and food coloring. Set them outside to freeze. After they are frozen, pop the ice out of containers and use the colored shapes for outdoor building blocks.
  • Treasure/scavenger hunt: Gave an outdoor treasure or scavenger hunt with items from the outdoors.
  • Animal tracks: Look for animal tracks in the snow. Take a picture of the tracks or draw the shape of the tracks. Take the picture or drawing back inside and try to identify what animal made the tracks by searching in books or on the Internet.
  • Melting snow: Run an experiment with snow and ice. Predict which will melt faster inside: an ice cube from the freezer, a tightly packed snowball or a pile of fluffy snow. Put an ice cube from the freezer in a bowl, a tightly packed snowball about the size of an ice cube in a bowl and a pile of fluffy snow in a bowl and see which one melts first.
  • Freezing liquids: Run an experiment with different liquids to see which one freezes first when put outside. Choose three different liquids and put them each in a bowl or cup – you could use water, juice, milk or anything else. Predict which liquid will freeze first outside. Take the bowls outside and check on them to see which liquid froze first.
  • Measure snowfall: Using a ruler or piece of wood or plastic to measure snowfall can be a fun winter experiment. Stick the measuring tool in the ground and each time it snows, draw a line for how much it snowed and write the date on top of the line. You can measure the snowfall throughout winter.
  • Read a book: “The Snowy Day” by Ezra Jack Keats is about a little boy who wakes up one morning to discover the ground covered in snow. Use the MI Strong Family Book Sheet from MSU Extension for more fun hands-on activities based around this book.

Don’t let cold weather keep kids indoors. Get out and explore the winter wonderland in your own backyard!

For more ideas on activities to do with kids during winter, visit the eXtension Alliance for Better Child Care’s Hands-On Activities Database for lots of fun hands-on ideas for activities. Check out the Build an Igloo activity from the database.

For more articles on child development, academic success, parenting and life skill development, please visit the MSU Extension website.

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