Green living to me, when you have kids especially, is a lot about learning to appreciate nature. Fact – kids who don’t love nature, who don’t have awesome nature experiences won’t care enough about nature to preserve it.
In the winter it’s hard to make time to get outside. You’ve got to bundle up, fit in time around holiday events, and people have a general sense of wanting to stay indoors where it’s cozy. Still, you can incorporate some fun and nature minded family outings into your schedule. It’ll pay off in the long run with kids who adore being outside and who hopefully want to do all they can to keep nature clean and healthy.
- Make snow angels or a snow fort.
- Have a snowball fight.
- If it’s really cold and snowy, grab some organic, natural maple syrup and pour some on the snow in pretty shapes, it’ll harden into candy.
- If you’ve got a sled use it. If you don’t have a sled, why not get a winter sled?
- Sleds aren’t the only thing you can slide with try an inner tube as well.
- Play tic-tac-toe in the snow. Use found nature objects as markers (pine cones, sticks, etc.)
- Make a cardboard bulls-eye, hang it from a tree, make a pile of snowballs and let the kids throw like mad.
GROW SOME FUN
- Plant a winter garden.
- Plant some trees!
- Choose some winter hardy flowers or shrubs for the garden.
- Plant pansies for winter color. Check at your local nursery to see if any are in stock.
- Wait for night, bundle up, grab a wagon for the very little ones, and go see all the holiday lights in the neighborhood.
- Plan a winter scavenger hunt – if you’ve got tons of snow, make colored snowballs or ice cubes with food coloring and bury them around the yard so kids can find them.
- It’s not so cold outside when you get your blood pumping. Grab a big bucket of chalk and play hopscotch, jump rope, or try hula hooping in winter coats – NOT so easy, but fun to try.
- Go on a fun winter hike. Winter is an excellent time to hike because nature looks amazing – you’ve got frozen streams, bright berries popping out, and icicles. Plus you have the added benefit of no one else being out there hiking; it’s very quiet and peaceful. State parks with waterfalls are especially cool this time of year. Here in Oregon we go to Silver Creek Falls, but of course you can find a state park near you.
- Try snowshoeing.
- Get some skateboards, helmets, and look for a covered school area. Go skateboarding. Do not take skateboards out in the wet because you’ll wreak the bearings. For obvious reasons skating in the snow is out – this is why you should look for a covered school area. Kids are out of school for winter break and your board is protected from wetness. Learn where to get a low-income skateboard.
- Hit the beach. Winter beaches rock because the ocean looks dark, wild, and amazing and sounds crazy cool. As an added benefit the sand will be wet, packed down, and not blowing in your eyes.
- Snowboard responsibly. Get a sustainable harvest wood snowboard from Venture Snowboards. You can also look for a reuse option at your local used sports equipment store.
- Ice skating at a local pond once it’s cold and safe enough.
- Make a family time capsule then hike into the woods to bury it.
- Go out at night for some winter stargazing.
- Get the whole family involved in at least one very active winter activity like snowboarding or skiing. If gear is too costly make sure your family is hiking or taking long walks on a regular basis.
CRAFTY NATURE FUN
- Make a beautiful ice wreath to greet holiday visitors!
- If an entire ice wreath seems too hard, make smaller but still sweet winter sun catchers.
- If you have an outdoor playhouse for the kids, dress it up gingerbread style. If you use cut foam, it’ll stand up to winter wetness. For example, make snowflakes, pretend candies, and more to make a typical playhouse look like the fantasy candy house from Hansel and Gretel.
- Collect pine cones for a silver winter wreath.
- Make beautiful colored ice sculptures or a wonderful rainbow colored ice castle!
- Learn how to care for winter greenery that you cut for crafts or wreaths – i.e. pine, evergreens, holly, etc.
- Collect greenery to make a natural holiday kissing ball (scroll all the way down after clicking the link) – sort of like the tradition of mistletoe but different.
- String cranberries, popcorn, and cereal onto fishing line for a lovely garland that you can wrap around outdoor trees to add a plash of holiday cheer to the tree plus attract and nourish bird friends.
- See which foods are best for winter bird feeding, then try some out.
- Set up an outdoor birdbath – birds often have trouble finding non-frozen water sources in winter. Break the ice in your birdbath often or look for a heated birdbath.
- Go out for a hike with binoculars and see if you can spot any winter animals scurrying around.
- Go animal tracking. See a kid-friendly guide to tracking.
Note – while some feeding of wildlife is ok during the winter, be aware that overfeeding, or targeting the wrong sort of wildlife can have consequences.
What other winter fun activities can you think of?