In many Scandinavian countries, it’s not uncommon to see a line of strollers parked outside a café, filled with sleeping babies—even in the dead of winter. It may be cold, the thinking goes, but time outdoors is so valuable for a baby’s health that there are benefits despite—and maybe even because of—the conditions.
We all know intuitively that outside playtime for children is good for them, and research supports that. Yet giving our kids that free time outside in nature can feel harder than it was for our parents and grandparents.
Here are some simple ways to have fun outside, even when it’s cold:
Prepare for the weather
Before you head out, talk about the weather and how to dress for it: “today is cold so we need a coat and gloves” or “today is sunny so we should wear hats to protect our faces.”
Paint with water
In any conditions other than snow or rain, you can paint pavement with a tub of water and a brush.
Draw with chalk
Chalk also works in almost any weather. Draw a line on the pavement and have your toddler follow simple directions like walking along it, standing at the end/middle/beginning of the line, or draw several lines and count out loud.
Water the plants
Have your toddler water plants outside. If you have access to a garden, they will love digging, picking, planting, and even weeding!
Go on a treasure hunt
Bring a container and go on a treasure hunt for leaves, rocks, pinecones, grass, sticks, and flowers.
Your toddler may not be ready to balance on their own, but they will love it when you help them balance on a curb or a rock.
Go on a rain walk
Going on a “rain walk” can be exciting if everyone is dressed for the weather. Look for puddles, bugs, worms, gutters overflowing with water.
More ideas for fun outdoor play for all seasons here at Tinkergarten.*
* At Tinkergarten, we help children to unlock their natural learning ability, building skills to become ready to learn, ready to thrive and ready for anything. We empower parents to be their child’s #1 teacher, giving them their life’s most important gift—to learn how to learn. With over a decade of design and continuous improvement in our program, and hundreds of thousands of families served, our unique method of activating a child’s learning is tested, proven and beloved. Each of our outdoor play experiences is engineered to marry the latest science, with the wisdom of the ages, and the wonder of childhood to teach creativity, empathy, focus, persistence and more