How To: Keep Kids Active During Winter

Keeping Kids Active During Winter

Our nutrition plan is supposed to include an hour of physical activity a day, and we’ve been really bad about it this winter.  As native Californians, we have an aversion to the bracing cold and that has not helped us embrace winter by way of winter sports.  We do try, our girls have had 2 seasons of exposure to both ice skating and skiing.  We tried snow tubing for the first time this past vacation and we finally figured out the good local sledding hills.  But somehow the winter has crept by and the pounds have crept on.  So…with a asking around and digging around, here is a list of winter activities that are local to me but maybe there is the equivalent in your snowy part of the world.

Ice Skating:  check parks and recreation for local free skating spots.  Who knew that Auburndale Cove has free ice skating and hockey even at night and lit up magically?  Plus public bathrooms!  Our local ski shop also rents ice skates and Play It Again Sam has used ice skates.  There are also outdoor and indoor ice skating rinks.  Check local colleges for use of their ice skating facility as well as private schools.  We can skate at Babson College, The Fessenden School, The Daily Rink (parks and recreation spot), and outdoors at Larz Anderson Park, Frog Pond in Boston.

Snow Tubing:  this is not super physical if it’s connected to a snow tube lift, but it’s really fun and a nice alternative at the ski slopes!  My youngest is too short and too young to do this so check online for height and age restrictions.

Sledding:  It took me one year to acquire sleds because I was too late one winter and too early the next fall so I had to keep constantly checking at the local sports equipment store.  So, now we have a pretty good assortment.  The round sleds spin!  The light sleds that look like boogie boards are the best according to my kids because they are light to carry and fast.  The heavy plastic sleds that can hold two people are good for pairs such as adult and kid, but are a little cumberson to transport up and down the hill.  The wooden sleds like a wagon on ice skates seem to go really fast.  We don’t have this one but we saw a little kid with her dad yesterday whizzing by.

Rock Climbing:  the Y, gyms, specialized indoor facilities and some colleges have classes or free play time.  I just heard of the Rock Spot near us that we are going to try out.

Indoor Soccer:  this is where I went awry this winter.  I had trouble finding an indoor soccer league for my 4th grader so she just did a winter camp for a few days.  But, then a mom friend said that she had signed up her daughter in an indoor soccer league the next town over.  So… check neighboring towns!  We do have indoor soccer for her age in our town, but it’s not a league for scrimmaging; it’s just drills and practice which she did not want to do.  But some kids like the practice drills more than the games so that is another option.

Swimming:  we only pursue swimming at hotel pools but we really should go to free swim at the Y.  My kids don’t want to join the swim team so I tend to forget this as a good winter option.  I need to check to see if some local hotels let you use their pool in the winter if you pay by the hour.  I know you can do this in the summmer….

Walking:  we need to walk our neighbor’s dog to have an excuse to take a brisk walk.  Walk the mall and take the stairs.  Drag the kids around to the grocery store or errands.  Park the car and walk to the stores that are nearby.  Walk around the neighborhood looking for animals.

Shoveling Snow:  my kids don’t tend to mind shoveling snow and it helps dad out!  I bought a slew of rakes and snow shovels from a Montessori online store so that they have equipment that their size.

Snow Activities:  made lemon ice by layering snow with lemon juice and sugar, make snow angels, build a snow man, a snow fort, an igloo,  or a snow scuplture, or throw snowballs.   Fill a spray bottle with different colored water and “paint or write” on the snow.  You can buy small spray bottles at Lakeshore Learning.  Snow golf:  carve out a putt-putt course in your yard.

Skiing and Snowboarding:  we have a local mountain less than an hour away.  We have to do this more.

Museums: we have a membership to the MFA and I took the girls for an afternoon.  It was a good way to walk around for a few hours plus they were able to do arts and crafts that the Museum had set up for vacation week.

Dance Party:  crank up the music and dance.  Video tape them for posterity.

Bowling: it’s along the lines of snow tubing.  Not that much physical activity but fun.

Exercise:  jumping jacks, push ups, sit ups, and jump rope.  Add props:  bean bags, hula hoops, rhythmic gymnastics ribbons on sticks,  balls.

Fort or obstacle course:  use sheets, chairs and boxes to build a fort or an obstacle course at home.

Open Gym:  our gymnatics place has open gym with fun stuff inside including a climbing wall and foam pit.

By Mia Wenjen, PragmaticMom


  1. I am so glad you addressed this issue! Other activities that I would like to suggest include snow shoeing and mall walking. Snow shoeing is easy for children to master and they especially like being able to use the polls as they walk across the snow. Mall walking is a great indoor activity when it is too cold outside. Many malls open their doors to the public for walking before the actual shops open for the day. An added benefit of mall walking is that you get a “heads-up” on the latest sales!

  2. Oops! Noticed a typo after the fact. I meant “poles” – not polls. Sorry!

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