What can you do outside with a toddler in the winter? Well, a lot! Here are fun outdoor winter activities for toddlers both for snowy winters and without snow.
I love those sweet moments in the winter when you spend time inside snuggling and staying warm.
I also know how quickly toddlers can become restless and develop cabin fever, especially when they love being outside.
Instead of pulling your hair out and feeling overwhelmed and frustrated with not knowing what to do, I want to share with you some of my favorite outside winter activities for toddlers you can easily enjoy.
12 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for Toddlers
1. Go on a nature walk
If you find that your toddler needs to be outside to get out some wiggles, then going on a nature walk is the perfect opportunity to teach your toddler. This works well with or without snow.
You can take the time to point out the animals that are still awake and running around, talk about which animals are hibernating for the winter, and share with them why the trees lose their leaves and how nature changes in the winter.
Also, remember to listen and respond to any thoughts your toddler has rather than resort to teaching.
If you can go to a forest, this is also a perfect way for your toddler to practice their motoric skills by climbing over or balancing on tree branches or stumps, for example.
Just don’t plan for a long walk, especially if there is snow, since your toddler may become exhausted quite quickly by walking in the snow keeping their balance, climbing, and so on.
If you want a longer walk, consider bringing a toddler carrier backpack . (Link to a good one at Amazon)
Toddlers don’t care how they’re going to be pushed around in the snow; they simply want a fun ride and to enjoy the sounds of crunchy snow beneath their feet.
If you don’t have a sled this year, consider using some cardboard instead. I actually used old diaper boxes, making a hole in the front and securing a piece of strong rope to the box.
This allowed me to pull my child around in the front yard without having to spend a ton of money. You can simply use what you already have around the home. The best part is your toddler will never know or care about the difference. They will simply enjoy the ride and being pulled around the yard.
3. Build a snowman or a snow fort
Does your toddler love to build things? Help them build a snowman or a snow fort. They can even build a landing pad for Santa if Christmas is coming closer.
The best thing about the snow is whatever you want to build with your toddler is limited by your imagination. You can also ask them what they’d like to build and then let them take the lead.
I know the snow is cold, and often times I’d rather be inside where it’s warm, but you have the opportunity to make some incredible memories with your child. Don’t let them pass you by; take advantage of every moment and opportunity.
4. Build snow lights
Snow lights can be made quite small and, thereby, quick to make. Make snowballs together with your toddler and stack them up to make a little snow house where you can fit a larger candle or a few smaller ones. You can also use battery-driven led lights.
After dark, you can go out together to light the candles. Make sure you put the snow lights so they can be seen from inside your house.
5. Listen to the ice crystals
Does your child love to listen to music? Are you in an area where there are ice crystals nearby?
Sometimes, after a heavy snowstorm and things freeze up a little, I love to take my children to the trees nearby and let them hear the music the tiny ice crystals make when the branches move in the trees.
We often make up stories of little ice fairies and the dances they’re going to be attending, along with the songs they’ll be dancing to with the handsome prince. If you’re willing to create a story for them and help fuel their imagination, you’ll enjoy some incredibly happy times outside with your toddler.
6. Snow Shoveling
Just like kids love to shovel sand in the sandbox, snow shoveling is just as much fun. And if you can let your toddler help you shovel snow from the driveway, for example, he or she is likely to go all-in with helping you out.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, toddlers often love being allowed to do adult things, like making the table, taking out the garbage – or shovel the driveway. (This is why it is sometimes quite easy to get toddlers to do chores. )
7. Create snow art
If your child enjoys painting, you can put colored water (use food coloring) in a spray can or water pistol and let your child create snow paintings outside.
Combine it with making a snowman or a snow fort and paint them!
Since food color often stains all materials, make sure not to dress up your toddler in their most expensive, white winter clothes for the occasion…
8. Make snow angels
This is a vey quick activity, but it can be built on.
Find untouched snow and have your toddler (and yourself!) gently lay down on their back on the snow and wave their arms in the snow to create angel wings. Wave the legs, too, to create angels with skirts.
Help them up without destroying the snow angel. You can make many angels in a row or circle and then decorate them with a colored crown (using food-colored water) or whatever material from nature to add eyes, mouths, decorated skirts or wings, etc.
You can tell a story about these angels and name them.
9. Take the summer toys out and play
Most of sandbox toys work just as well in snow. Let your toddler use their sand shovels, cookie cutters, trucks, buckets, or other sandbox toys in the snow. You can use kitchen tools too.
Well, if your garden or the nearby playground or park is all muddy, take a deep breath and let your child play there too! Kids love mud and water. It is more a matter of appropriate clothing! A tip is to buy oversized rainwear trousers for your toddler (link to Amazon) and use them as an extra layer over the winter clothes (if it is too cold to just use rainwear trousers and thermal underwear).
10. Eat outside
Lit your garden grill or make a small (safe) bonfire and grill hot dogs for lunch or an evening meal. Let your toddler help grill their own hot dogs on a stick.
Bring blankets, sheep skins, or something else to sit on and make hot chocolate or tea to drink. Some kids also really like vegetable or chicken broth in a mug.
Kids often love eating outside.
11. Visit the playground
The playground will look and feel completely different in the snow and will be fun to visit. So take your toddler to their regular playground. Just remember that everything will be a lot more slippery when covered with snow and ice, so be careful!
12. Deliver cookies or treats to neighbors and friends
Not every place is a winter wonderland this time of the year. Some areas simply grow cold without having any snow.
This means you’re not able to enjoy the ice crystals, snowmen, or other fun snow-day activities outside. When this happens, you can still enjoy your nature walks while you deliver cookies or other special treats to your neighbors and friends.
You can invite your child to draw some beautiful artwork or some other craft or help you whip up a small batch of cookies or cook a few loaves of bread. From there, you can attach your child’s craft and take a walk as you deliver your homemade goodies.
I love asking my children who we should visit and who they want to share their treats with. Children, especially toddlers, have a beautiful gift for being thoughtful and thinking of those in their circle of influence.
While you deliver these treats, you can enjoy holding hands, walking, sharing silly stories, and singing together.
Just because it’s a winter wonderland outside doesn’t mean you have to be inside all day long. There are so many fun activities you can do with your toddler as you spend some time outside in the fresh air.
What do you and your toddler love to do outside in the winter? I would love to hear all about your sweet memories and outdoor winter activities for toddlers. Be sure to let me know!
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Paula Dennholt founded Easy Baby Life in 2006 and has been a passionate parenting and pregnancy writer since then. Her parenting approach and writing is based on studies in cognitive-behavioral models and therapy for children and her experience as a mother and stepmother. Life as a parent has convinced her of how crucial it is to put relationships before rules. She strongly believes in positive parenting and a science-based approach.
Paula cooperates with a team of pediatricians that you find here. They write or review all health-related articles.