You wake up and the world is covered in white. And then your little one spots the snow, and if they’re like my kids were, they suddenly don’t care about cartoons and cereal. They just need to get outside and try out their new paw patrol snow shovel, slide around in their sled, and eat some snow!
(Yes, let’s be honest, all kids eat snow.)
But, aside from shoveling, sliding, and eating snow, what other outdoor activities can you find for your toddlers to do?
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Toddlers have a natural curiosity and excitement about the outdoor world that just doesn’t compare to any other age group. Often times we parents rush too quickly to make plans and create activities when really all they need is a little encouragement and confidence that their own play and explorations are great activities.
But, if you plan to spend hours outside, having a few ideas on hand can help.
Below you’ll find very simple outdoor winter activity ideas for toddlers, some you’ll need to plan ahead for, you might need to purchase an item or two, and some activities are games that you can do on the go.
How to enjoy the snow with toddlers
Toddlers love to help out and they love to imitate. So, if you are planning to make a wintertime toy purchase for your little one, I strongly suggest a kid-sized snow shovel! And, if you happen to live somewhere where you get a lot of snow, there’s no harm is teaching them early;)
I recommend you get them an actual shovel that will slide and push the snow. I’m pretty sure we picked ours up at the dollar store (they look like these but I know we didn’t pay that Amazon price!).
Go for a sled ride
Whether it’s just for fun or for practical purposes, having a good quality pull sled is very handy with young children. You can pull them around the block, they can slide around in the backyard, or they can pull their own dollies for a ride!
Make it even more fun and sled down some little hills. Remember, toddlers don’t need anything too big or scary and if you are going to go down some big hills with them, be safe and have them wear a helmet.
When my littles were really little, we had both a wooden baby sled and one of these plastic baby sleds. Both worked well and supported the baby in sitting. However, we could add more blankets and cushioning to the wooden sled. Once they were a little older and sturdier we started using a plastic toboggan pull sled. I find the pull sleds are more stable and can manage rough snow and terrain better than the smaller baby sleds.
Build a snowman
Really, this one shouldn’t even need to be mentioned, right? But, don’t stop at snowmen. Encourage your toddler’s creativity and maybe they’ll want to build a family of dinosaurs, a castle, or a baby turtle. Make it even more exciting by letting your toddler choose some clothing and natural treasures to decorate their snow creations.
Paint the snow
This one take a tiny bit of preparation, but it’s still pretty quick and easy. The main idea is to fill a watering can, spray bottle, or even a pop bottle with a whole poked into the lid with colored water. The slower the water empties from the container, the longer the activity will last!
I just add a drop of two of food coloring to the water to make sure that the kids’ clothing don’t also get colored in the process. If you want the colors to show up stronger on the snow, add more food coloring to your water.
Paint with snow
This one works really well if you have a brick house or a wooden fence. You can even do it on big tree trunks too. Basically, with handfuls of snow, show your toddler how to make designs. The texture of the brick, wood, or bark will grip the snow. If the snow is wet enough, you can even throw snowballs at the wall and fence.
I also have memories of pulling off my soggy mittens and scarves and sticking them onto the brick walls too!
Build a fort
If you grew up in snow I’m sure you’ve built a fort or two. Remember, toddlers aren’t very big, so this doesn’t have to be an over-involved process. Just a small snow wall will be very exciting to hide behind and climb over for them. I’m pretty sure all the forts I ever made were done with my hands and feet. I also have fond memories of my dad digging one out of a snow drift for me once.
You can purchase fancy snow brick molds, but ice cream containers, sand pails, and buckets work too!
Build a maze
This one will need a little more adult time. In a large area of fresh snow use a shovel (or your feet) to cut paths in the yard. Make a maze for your toddler to find his way through. Then, show them how to make their own maze to challenge you.
Make an obstacle course
These are fun any time of the year, but in the winter, there’s the element of snow! Read more at PaperHeartFamily to see the snowy obstacle course they made for their kids and get some fun ideas for your own backyard course.
Watch some snow clearing
Yep, this one is simple, but wow, if you happen to have a little one that loves anything with wheels, than this is definitely going to please!
We are lucky to live in an area that grades and picks up the snow on the roads. My little guy would get so excited when that familiar beeping and grating sound came around! He’d spend a whole hour just standing on the couch watching the grader, loader, and dump trucks do their thing (while giving me a running commentary the whole time). If I really wanted to treat him, we’d get all bundled up and head outside to watch safely from the porch! …and if they honked or waved, well, his day was made!
Go on a track hunt
Little kids will love to walk through the snow, play with their own footprints and follow others. Pretend to be spies and head to the park or around the block and see how many different tracks you can find, follow them, and see where they lead you.
Play at the park
The park is an entirely different place when it’s covered in snow!
Be a winter wildlife detective
Head to a natural area and see how the animals are managing in the snow. Make a little winter time scavenger hunt before you head out, or just pretend to be nature detectives and look, listen, and feel with curiosity. What are the animals doing and saying? Have they left any evidence in the snow? Whose tracks are whose?
Have a tea party or a picnic
If your little is into pretend tea parties, then go have one outside. Get all bundled up, bring out the cups, a blanket, and a few dollies… then enjoy a nice little tea party in the snow. You could probably also whip up some snowy pies and cakes for the celebration too!
This is a two part activity that needs a little preparation on your part.
First, one day, you’ll fill a container with natural treasures (leaves, berries, pine cones) and add a few inches of water. Then, leave this outside to freeze overnight.
On the second day, go see what happened, take the frozen disks out of the contains and hang them in the trees as decorations.
You can get the full instructions on making wintertime ice ornaments here.
Haul out the toys
Sandbox toys are just as fun in the snow. Fill the dump truck and use the sand shovels to build a snow city complete with roads, tunnels, apartment buildings, and even snow bridges!
Really, finding a winter outdoor activity for your toddler and you to do should be easy. Just remember to dress well so you’ll both stay warm, be enthusiastic and let them guide your snow play.
…and if you tire them out, it’s totally okay for nap time to happen outdoor too!
What should you do now?
- Go ahead and pin this to your kid’s activity boards so you’ll be reminded of all the great outdoor fun activities you can do with your toddler
- If you’re excited to learn more, get tips, and activity ideas for more outdoor family adventures then join the Take Them Outside Newsletter (you’ll also get access to the entire private outdoor printables library).
Other outdoor activity posts you’ll want to read:
- Beautiful and easy nature-filled wintertime ice ornaments
- How to stay warm when playing in the snow
- Must-read tips for safe and fun skating on frozen outdoor lakes