Throughout January, we had fun getting outdoors and joining in with The Ladybirds’ Adventures and Thimble and Twig for their Wild about Winter challenge. Each day had a suggested activity for winter outdoor fun. It was a great way to encourage us to get out each day and we all loved it. These are some of our favourite activities from the month:
1) Taking hot chocolate outside
I don’t really know why we’ve never done this before but it’s now become a regular thing on our outdoor adventures. The first time we took a flask of hot chocolate and a small tub of marshmallows to the park, Sophie was so thrilled that she immediately declared it to be the “best day ever!” Stopping for a nice cup of hot chocolate is a great way to warm up while outside on a chilly winter day too.
2) Winter picnic
I love going out for a picnic in the summer, but it would never have occurred to me to do the same in the winter. We wrapped up nice and warm one day after school and enjoyed getting out our picnic blanket at the park and having our tea there. Soup and bread would the perfect meal for an outdoor winter picnic. However, my children aren’t keen on soup. We went for sandwiches, fruit and cold pasta salad instead, along with a flask of hot chocolate instead. It might not have warmed us up quite as much as soup would have done, but we certainly enjoyed it.
3) Matchbox nature treasure hunt
How many nature items can you fit in a matchbox? I have to say, I was quite amazed by how much Sophie managed to collect in hers on a walk around the park one day. Her collection of ‘tiny treasures’ included leaves, flowers, twigs, berries and pebbles. It was such a simple way of help to make a walk a little more interesting too. We’ll definitely be repeating this one again later in the year.
4) Penny hike
One of our nearby parks has some gardens full of little paths criss-crossing each other. This was the perfect place to do a penny hike. We gave Sophie a coin to toss each time we came to a fork. Heads was left, tails was right. Letting chance take us on a path through the gardens. Of course, there was a bit of going in circles here and there, and the occasional moment where the coin was tossed more than once in order to get the path Sophie wanted to take!
The spot we chose is one of those places where you can just wander down paths at random and eventually you’ll come out somewhere near one of the main footpaths through the park. It really is almost impossible to get yourself lost. It might be fun to try it again on a longer walk. I might need to keep track of which turnings we take though so we can find our way back again!
5) A night walk in the woods
Winter is a good time for a night walk with younger children as it gets dark so early. We took our torches and headed for some nearby woods for a short night walk. It brought back memories for my husband of going on night hikes back when he was in Boys’ Brigade. Sophie has a little torch with different caps to create shadow pictures and it was fun to use this while on the walk too.
6) Puddle jumping
Jumping in big puddles is such a simple childhood activity but is so much fun. Sophie can never resist a big puddle when she has her wellies and waterproofs on! She does have a tendency to jump so much that the water is forced up inside her waterproofs though. She often ends up getting soaked in spite of wearing them. Oh well, clothes can always be washed!
7) Making mud potions
Making mud potions was one of my favourite activities when I was a little girl. It is lovely to watch my own children enjoying it too. Sophie loved collecting various ingredients from around the garden and mixing it into her mud potion. You can see the pure joy on her face in this photo!
8) Mud painting
We’ve done a fair amount of muddy play before, but mud painting was a new activity for us. I mixed some coloured paint with mud in old yogurt pots out in the garden and put it out on the tuff tray in the garden along with some pieces of cardboard from old cereal boxes. Sophie started off by painting a rainbow and then decided that flicking the brush and splattering the coloured mud all over the cardboard was much more fun.
9) Obstacle course
We have quite a few outdoor toys in the garden which were perfect for creating an obstacle course. I added a play tunnel and a piece of trellis to complete our one. Sophie had to go down the big slide, jump over the old pink slide which I’d placed on its side, through the tunnel, under the frame for the baby swing, up and down the baby slide, on to the toy motorbike, ride it once around the playhouse and then finish by going in the playhouse. She had several goes around the garden, timing it each time to see how quickly she could do it. Her best time was 46 seconds. I think I might try this one again in the summer with some water features!
10) Stick maze
We collected some sticks from one of our walks in the woods in preparation for this one. Sophie then drew out a basic maze on paper first and then used sticks to recreate it out in the garden. She needed a little help initially to try and keep the sticks spaced out enough for her to be able to walk through the maze, but otherwise managed to work it out by herself. She had fun walking around her maze to get to the middle. We left it out in the garden for a few days “so that the ants could follow it.”
It’s not always easy to find the motivation to get outdoors on a cold, grey winter day but having suggested activities really helped encourage us to get outside. If you have any favourite outdoor winter activities, then let me know in the comments below – it’s always good to have some other ideas to help us get outside.