This post has been sponsored by The Genius of Play, whose goal is to increase awareness of the social, emotional, and physical benefits of play among parents — plus encourage parents to tell their kids to go play. That’s a message I can get behind.
Winter has arrived. At my house, with the arrival of winter and cold weather, the children start huddling indoors around electronic devices and refusing to go outside to play voluntarily unless it snows.
I’m a firm believer in the value of outdoor play, sunshine, and exercise, so come four o’clock on most days you will hear me chasing my kids off the devices and outside to play.
And most of the time, they find neighbor kids whose moms have also sent them outside and they keep each other occupied and have fun. Every once in a while, they need a little bit more direction because suddenly they all decide that playing outside in the “cold” without snow is pure torture and come tromping back in the house looking for a shiny screen.
That’s when having a list of fun outdoor games and a few supplies stashed away comes in super handy. Here are ten ways to play outside in cold weather without snow.
Classic Playground Games to Play Outside in Cold Weather
Ghost in the Graveyard. My kids were playing this classic group game outside with the neighbor kids all afternoon. But their favorite time to play Ghost in the Graveyard no matter the weather is after dark. Nothing says winter fun like a rousing game of G.I.G. followed by hot chocolate and cookies!
Here’s how to play:
- First, pick who’s it — he’s the ghost.
- Second, whoever is the ghost goes and hides somewhere within the boundaries of play.
- Third, the remaining players gather at a base (like the front porch) and count down hours to midnight (1 o’clock, 2 o’clock, 3 o’clock, etc.).
- Fourth, the players on the porch spread out into the area of play and locate the ghost without tagging him (they just have to see him or her) and then they have to get back to the base without getting tagged.
- Fifth, the ghost will attempt to tag the players when they find him. Whoever is tagged becomes a ghost.
- Play continues and repeats until all but one person has been ghosted. That person is the winner, and becomes the ghost for the next round.
Fish Out of Water. This game really requires some sort of play structure, so a trip to the nearest playground may be in order. My kids can attest to the fact that playgrounds make for good fun year round.
Here’s how to play:
- First, pick who’s it.
- This person has to close their eyes and count to twenty.
- Keeping their eyes closed, they then proceed to try and tag someone or catch someone when they are “off” of the play structure, or in other words, a fish out of water.
- To catch someone, they simply shout the words “Fish out of water!” and if anyone is not touching the play structure at that point, they become it and play starts over. The play structure is the water and the players are the fish.
- Second, everyone who is playing (and not it) keeps their eyes open and must avoid being tagged by the person playing it.
- To do this they keep moving and may choose to run from one area to the other, risking being caught as a fish out of water.
- Players might also be forced off of the play structure because the person who is it is closing in to tag them.
- Play continues until someone has either been tagged or caught “out of water” and then that person becomes it.
What Time is it Mr. Fox. This game will require three or more participants.
Here’s how to play:
- First, choose one child to be the fox.
- Second, the fox and the rest of the players stand about twenty feet apart, and the fox has his back to the players.
- Third, the players say to the fox, “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” The fox replies, “Three o’clock.” Players can take three steps toward the fox (any size steps they want). Then the question is asked again. “What time is it, Mr. Fox?” He answers again, “Five o’clock.” And they can take five steps. If at any point one of the players can get close enough to tag the fox, that player can take the fox’s place.
- Play continues like this until the fox decides to reply, “Dinnertime!” and turns around to try and catch the players and tag one of them before they make it back to the starting line. If the fox does tag someone, that person becomes the fox. If the fox doesn’t succeed, he remains the fox until he does tag someone.
Fun Supplies to Play Outside in Cold Weather
I recommend you gather a few of these supplies and keep them tucked away for THAT day when you need a little extra something. Any of these will be a welcome surprise when it’s time to go outside and play!
Hula Hoops. A set of twelve hula hoops can be used to set up a variety of fun games and obstacle courses.
Hopping Balls. These fun balls are ones you sit on and bounce using the handle. They make a fun challenge for an obstacle course combined with the hula hoops but they are also just plain fun on their own.
Scooters. Also a fun challenge as part of an obstacle course, plus, these little vehicles can be used to build core strength.
Classic Corn Hole. Adapted for the size of children, this classic game is fun for everyone!
Places to Go Play Outside in Cold Weather
Take a Hike. Bundle up and head to the local park for a walk or just take your kids out in the woods if you can. Do a bit of research to find local trails – you might not even realize how many walking or hiking trails you have nearby! We hit the nature preserve behind our house today, and found a thin layer of ice where the creek used to be. Its a super shallow creek (about an inch deep where we were) and was frozen solid so it was a lot of fun!
Go Ice Skating. This is a fun seasonal activity. If you have an outdoor rink within an hour’s drive or so, it’s totally worth it! Even if you’ve never tried ice skating before, go have some fun together as a family.
Playground Hop. Bundle up and spend a few hours hopping from playground to playground in your local area. Playgrounds are fun and they also help kids build important gross motor skills, fine motor skills, and core muscle strength too!