Here are some fun winter activities that kids can do on cold days! These indoor and outdoor winter activities include winter crafts, art ideas, winter nature activities, snow play and even winter-themed pretend play ideas!
When your kids are stuck inside and getting cabin fever, heat up some cocoa and pick one of the indoor winter activities. When the weather is fine, bundle up, get outdoors to play in the snow and try one of the outdoor ideas!
BONUS! Get the printable list of all these fun winter activities for kids and check them off as you do them! Scroll down to the end of this post to get it!
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Winter Pretend Play Ideas
Spark your child's imagination with these wonderful winter-themed play ideas or go on a field trip in your own home!
SNOW PLAY TRAY. If you've got snow outside, scoop some up and place on a baking tray on in a large shallow container. Add in some toy vehicles or other small, waterproof toys for a snowy pretend play scenario. Concerned about spillage? Place a large towel underneath the play zone. No real snow? Consider using insta-snow (not for children' who put things in their mouths) or shaving cream.
PRETEND PLAY STORY TIME. Can't get to the library? Set up a designated story time area in your home. Kids can arrange pillows on the floor, set up dolls and stuffed toys as eager listeners. A grown-up can read the story, or kids can read to their toys. For extra fun, set up a library story time craft with our sledding coloring page and snowflake stick puppets or winter-themed bookmark coloring page.
PRETEND MOVIE THEATER. Look forward to a 90 minute break as your kids make pretend movie tickets, set up a popcorn and candy stand, and arrange comfy chairs for viewing. For tweens, choose one of these best movies for tweens that are based on children's books, or for all ages, expand their viewing literacy with one of these great silent movies for kids.
KATY AND THE BIG SNOW PLAY TIME. After reading Virginia Lee Burton's classic tale, Katy and the Big Snow, sit back and relax with a cup of tea while your kids recreate the story on this diy Katy mat.
Indoor Winter Activities
Getting cabin fever? These indoor winter activities will keep antsy kids busy!
GAMES TOURNAMENT. Kids can spend time organizing and planning a game tournament (screen-free games, of course!). What games will they play, how many rounds? Will they create a bracket or a score board?
PLANT PAPERWHITES. Teach kids that good things come to those who wait! Planting paperwhites in a bowl full of pebbles is easy and no mess. Get the full instructions for how to plant paperwhites here.
WRITE LETTERS. Have your kids written their thank you cards yet? Even if they have, they can still send messages to far away relatives. Even better, get a pack of large index cards and have them make their own postcards!
WINDOW SNOWFALL. Learn how to create unique snowflake window clings with glue on your windows (and they're easy to remove and reposition!). Alternatively, you can brighten up your window with cellophane snowflakes. After you cut out a flurry of flakes, the cellophane will stick to windows with a little dish soap and water. Bonus: your windows will be so clean when you decide to finally remove them! Get the full instructions for the cellophane stained glass snowflake window here.
Winter Nature Ideas
A winter wonderland is a glorious place. Let winter nature inspire you and your children to explore the outdoors and harness the cold temperatures to make unique crafts.
TRACK THE WEATHER. This is a great project for science and eco-minded kids. Get out a large piece of graph paper and label the bottom axis with dates and the side axis with temperatures. Every day, plot the high and low temperature of the day, connecting the high temperature dots with a red line and the low temperature dots with a blue line. At the end of the winter, you will be able to see the general weather patterns.
GO BIRDWATCHING. Sometimes kids need a little encouragement to get outside in the colder weathers. Let them know it's easier to spot birds in trees with no leaves! A good pair of binoculars and a local birding field guide will further inspired them! Get our tips for winter birding with kids here.
MAKE ICE WREATHS. This is one of our favorite winter crafts! Fill a cake pan (a bundt pan will create a center for the hanging ribbon) with water and nature items like cranberries, pine needles, holly, etc. Add a ribbon and freeze until solid. Hang up outside! You can see how we made ice wreaths (without a bundt pan) here.
BUILD SNOW LANTERNS. If you have snow, making snow lanterns is one of the most magical snow crafts you can make. Essentially, you build a handful of snowballs, arrange them in a conical shape and place a light inside. Get the full instructions here.
MAKE FROZEN COLOR GLOBES. For a fun way to liven up the yard in cold weather, you can't beat a collection of colored ice globes. Fill water balloons with colored water and freeze. When frozen, remove the balloon and place globes around your yard in fun designs.
FEED THE BIRDS. Tuppence a bag! (I bet you're singing it in your head, too.) Instead of dumping a pile of seeds into a tube and hanging it up outside, make one of these four clever diy birdfeeders!
Winter Art Activities
Decorate your home with your child's winter artwork!
PAPER SNOWFLAKES. Beware! Making paper snowflakes is highly addictive`. Watch our video to learn how to make them and then read about all the different ways you can use your newly created flurry.
PUFFY PAINT. Puffy paint provides a wonderful way to create three dimensional snowscape art work. Mix up a batch by folding together: 3 parts shaving cream with 1 part water and 1 part white school glue. Put in a plastic bag and squeeze out as you would when icing cookies. It's best to paint on cardboard or other hard paper surface. A full puffy paint tutorial is at Artful Parent.
SNOW PAINTING. Fill a few spray bottles with different colored water (use food coloring or liquid watercolors), put on your snow boots and head outdoors!
COLORING PAGES. When you need a quiet, indoor activity, try some winter-themed coloring pages. Here are some of our favorites:
Winter Crafts for Kids
A good winter craft keeps kids occupied and gives them a sense of accomplishment. These are easy winter crafts! Some require adult supervision, but the others can be done all on one's own.
MIX UP WINTER SCENTED PLAY DOUGH. Bring the scents of winter's natural wonder indoors for some pretend play, fine motor exercise and creative fun with winter scented play dough. Use these recipes for pine, mint and hot chocolate scented play dough!
MILK CARTON CANDLES. This old-school craft does take a bit of preparation but the results are well worth it. You can use essential oils that are reminiscent of winter scents and add in broken crayons for a bit of colorful interest. Here are our full instructions for how to make milk carton candles.
PAPER LUMINARIES. Using a hand-held hole punch, punch holes in a paper lunch bag. Insert a battery operated votive candle and voilá, you have a easy diy luminary. Make a dozen of these for a glowing, festive atmosphere. For extra fun, use a snowflake hole punch.
GLASS JAR LUMINARY. This is a classic winter craft for kids and also makes a great gift! Upcycle a glass jar (peanut butter or jam jars work great!) from your pantry. Cut out shapes from tissue paper in a variety of colors. Paint the outside surface of the jar with white school glue and then stick on the tissue paper. You can add in sequins, stickers or other crafty elements. Allow kids the freedom to stick the tissue paper on however they wish, even if it doesn't live up to your high design standards! Insert a battery operated votive candle and admire your child's handiwork!
Outdoor Winter Activities
What kid doesn't love to get outdoors and play in the snow? In some locations, a snowy winter is elusive. But, not to worry! Four out of six ideas can be done, even with nary a snowflake on the horizon.
WRITE SIDEWALK MESSAGES. When outdoor temperatures dip, but the sidewalks are still free from ice and snow, a few positive messages and drawings will put smiles on neighbors's faces. Bundle up and take a bucket of sidewalk chalk outside. Walk around the neighborhood and decorate the pavement with inspiring words and drawings.
GO ON A SCAVENGER HUNT. Grab your clipboard and a pen! You can come up with your own outdoor scavenger hunt or use one of the millions that are on the internet. Here's a cute scavenger hunt with printable from KCEdventures.
MAKE SNOW ANGELS. If you have a snowy landscape, don't forget to do this classic winter activity! Lie back in the snow, move your arms and legs back and forth and admire the angels who visited your yard. And, hey, this counts as exercise.
ICE BOWLING. You don't need snow or cold weather for this game, but a freezer is a necessity. Fill a water balloon and freeze until solid. You could even use one of the frozen colored globes you made (see above)! Then, fill 9 water bottles. Freezing the water bottles is not necessary, but adds to the fun. You don't need plastic water bottles, your reusable ones will work just fine. Head outdoors and set up the bottles in a triangle formation. Step back a few meters and roll your ice ball to knock them down!
SNOW TAG. Running in the snow is a unique experience. Why not turn it into a game of tag? For extra fun, play one of these 10 fun tag versions, or make up a game of snowball tag.
GOURDBALL OR PINECONE BALL. Our family tradition is to play a game of gourdball every year on Thanksgiving weekend when it's time to take down the fall decorations. Kids love to watch the gourds explode when they hit them with a bat! If you don't have gourds, you can use pinecones. It's lots of fun, I promise!