Winter Activities For Kids


Part of our Raising Resilient Kids series

Winter can feel long and dark – especially here in northern Michigan. The frigid temperatures and shorter spans of daylight can limit kids’ outdoor time, and therefore, their daily movement.

But by slightly shifting our mindsets, the cold months can be more tolerable, and perhaps even enjoyable for people of all ages. Studies show that fresh air and natural light support healthy sleep-wake cycles, support resilience, and lift the spirits of kids and adults alike. Did you know that some cultures honor the winter season as a time for rest and rejuvenation? They also prioritize getting outdoors every day. Create your own winter traditions by exploring the tips below.

Fun Winter Activities for Kids

Our region offers endless natural areas for recreation and relaxation. Try these fun outdoor activities with kids this winter: 

  • Have a snowball fight

  • Go ice skating

  • Play broomball

  • Try downhill skiing or snowboarding

  • Have a build your own pizza night and cook them on the outdoor grill

  • Go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing on a new or familiar trail

  • Walk around the neighborhood or try a local hiking trail  

  • Build a snowman or make snow angels

  • Play tag or capture the flag

  • Find a beautiful place to enjoy a winter picnic

  • Have a bonfire and roast s’mores or cook dinner over the fire

As you plan your outdoor fun this winter, keep safety at top of mind. Winter sports like sledding, skiing, and ice skating are loads of fun but can lead to big injuries too.

“There is no shortage of great outdoor activities to do in Northern Michigan! But it is important to remember that these activities are not without risks, so measures should be taken to participate in them safely,” shares Dr. Megan Coggon, a pediatrician at Munson Healthcare Charlevoix Hospital. “The winter months often bring diagnoses of concussions as a result of crashes while snowboarding or skiing, not to mention a lot of broken bones and sprains. We recommend wearing helmets and bracing knees and wrists while skiing or snowboarding, no matter your skill level." 

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) offers this advice for outdoor winter play:

  • Use helmets approved for skiing and snowboarding.

  • Dress children in thin layers with a wicking layer beneath to keep kids' skin dry. Make sure they wear a hat, mittens or gloves, and boots.

  • Set time limits for outdoor play to avoid hypothermia and frostbite. Remind children to come inside every so often to warm up.

  • Only let your child skate on approved surfaces. Make sure they skate in the same direction as the crowd.

  • Never let your child sled near streets, crowded areas, ponds, lakes, and trees. Arrange for someone to supervise.

  • Use steerable sleds that are sturdy and do not have sharp edges. Don't use snow disks or inner tubes.

  • Look for qualified instructors and programs designed for children if your child wants to learn to ski or snowboard.

  • Don't let children under age 16 operate snowmobiles. Never let a child under age 6 ride on a snowmobile.

Familiarize yourself with the dangers of kids and winter sports by checking out our Chill Out for Winter Safety program.

Take Time to “Chill”

Once your family has gotten its fill of fresh air, don’t think twice about some R&R time. Winter can be a wonderful time for rest. Try these ideas to start:

  • Get cozy with a fire or your favorite hot tea

  • Break out the puzzles, games, and festive music

  • Get lost in a good book

  • Send letters, postcards, or valentines to loved ones

  • Try your hand at arts and crafts and make your own upcoming holiday decorations

  • Schedule a regular video chat with loved ones to enjoy a virtual meal or play cards

  • Cook new things – pick a type of food and try to master it. Pierogis, homemade bread, fresh pasta, and craft tacos are some favorites to try.

Enjoying These Tips? Get More Ideas by Checking Out the Other Blogs in Our Raising Resilient Kids Series

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