When it’s cold outside and cosy indoors, it’s tempting to snuggle on the sofa and put a film on. But there are plenty of fun ways to encourage children to wrap up warm and play outside this winter too. Here are just a few ideas.
Try out your den-building skills
Get the children involved in some teamwork by building a winter woodland den together. Use large sticks and fallen branches as the basis for your den, then fallen leaves and fern to cover it.
We built a den last winter with Lucy’s Little Forest School. It was a fantastic way to get grown-ups and children working together. Each team built their den between two trees using large branches to connect them. Our activity leader made sure that the main branches were safe and secure, then many branches, sticks and fern leaves later, we’d built some impressively sturdy and camouflaged dens. The children had lots of fun playing in them afterwards, pretending they were jewel thieves who’d been sent to prison!
“…the wonders of the woodland provide a creative space to connect with the natural world…. A space to think, explore, reflect and most of all have fun.”
Lucy’s Little Forest School
Go dinosaur spotting
Pull on those wellies, pack a magnifying glass and get ready for some dinosaur spotting! Why not take pots or small boxes to collect ‘evidence’ that dinosaurs have lived nearby? Short sticks often make great dinosaur teeth and long sticks and twigs can be the bones.
My children love this game and always add their own twist to it. They’ll pretend to see a herd of Allosaurus stomping past the local restaurant and imagine that grassy anthills are dozens of dinosaur eggs waiting to hatch.
You can also extend this activity by learning together about the history of your local area. We recently visited a museum to see a large dinosaur bone that was discovered nearby in the 1930s. It belonged to a Huxleysaurus hollingtoniensis who lived over 125 million years ago!
Create a scavenger hunt
Whether you’re near a park, woodland or beach, there’ll be plenty of items to find on a winter scavenger hunt. The Woodland Trust offer a free, downloadable activity sheet. You could print this and try to find as many things on the list as you can, from shiny, spiky holly leaves to a cone smaller than your thumb!
If you’re near the coast, why not wrap up and take the children on a scavenger hunt along the beach? It’s such a different experience when summer tourists have been replaced by the winter wind and wildlife, providing a wonderful opportunity to explore and get some sea air! Make sure you stay together on the beach and help each other to look for shells, shiny pebbles or even fossils.
My children love to think of the different things they might find on a scavenger hunt, then draw their own pictures to create activity sheets. We pack the activity sheets along with pencils and some pots for collecting any items that can be brought home. It’s a great way to get the children excited about a winter walk!