“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.”
I’m sure you’ve heard that saying before as an argument to get outside regardless of the weather. But often, even with the right clothing it can be almost impossible to get kids out into the elements.
The reasons for getting outside all year round are applaudable – it’s mood lifting, it can help to improve your memory, it boosts the immune system, it recharges the brain, and during certain times of the year it can help to increase your vitamin D levels – but sometimes (well probably almost always) knowing it’s good for you just doesn’t seem to be enough to convince kids it’s the right thing to do.
So how can you get your kids to get outside when it’s cold? Funny enough, in my house, all it took was a puppy! My daughter wanted her own puppy and when she got it, she started joining me and my dog on my daily woods walks with her puppy. And when she re-discovered how fun it could be playing next to the stream and exploring, she convinced her brother to join in with us on our adventures.
Granted, there are still times that neither wants to join me but I find if I’m firm and insist they come along, generally the one who resisted the most is the one who doesn’t want to leave when it’s time to return home.
Not everyone can get a puppy so here are some other ideas to get your kids outside in the winter!
Herbal Scavenger Hunt
It may even seem there’s no reason herbally to get outside and explore so it may come as a surprise just how many plants you can find in the middle of winter This is a great time to learn to identify trees, discover the evergreens and look for emerging buds on deciduous trees. Make a list of what you find and try to guess which trees will bud out first. This is a great ongoing game as it encourages returns to the outdoors to follow up.
At the same time, you can learn to identify the skeletons of plants from last year’s growth. How many can you find and identify? Plants such as Goldenrod, Queen Anne’s Lace, Echinacea, Nettles and Milkweeds are all easy to find.
Some plants such as Nettles, Chickweed and Cleavers are all early risers to they are plants to look for in the ground if it’s not covered in snow.
To get started, download our free winter scavenger hunt printable.
Keep A Winter Plant Journal
Record all your findings in a journal. Take time to sketch a few of the plants you’ve discovered, what’s start gin to emerge and when everything starts coming back to life. Use colored pencils to color in drawings. Collect leaves, twigs, seeds and do bark rubbings during your walks to add to your journal.
Take a Hike
If you don’t have a woodland area near your home, head out to a local park or conservation area and explore. It’s fun to find streams and outcroppings of rocks to play on while you’re out.
Clean up your Garden
Got a garden? Late winter is the perfect time to start clearing away the debris. Look for praying mantis egg sacs, collect them as you clean, then redistribute them once your garden is cleared and ready for planting. See who can find the most sacs! Dream about the plants you’ll grow in your garden, it’s fun to see what plants kids like to grow. They’ll feel a bit of ownership in the garden and will be more enthusiastic when it comes to planting, growing and weeding the garden later in the year.
Feed the Birds
From hanging the bird feeder to filling it up, there’s not a single activity related to feeding the birds that my kids don’t enjoy. And if you have plants growing in your back yard, chances are you have birds! During the summer we love to watch the finches eating the Echinacea seed and the swallows dipping in the sky as they eat insects. Birds are not only welcome but a necessary component to herb gardening as they help to spread seeds and eat insects and snails. Adding a few bushes such as Forsythia, Eleuthero and raspberries or other bramble berries offers habitats for the birds as well as the trees. Once the bird feeders are filled, it’s fun to go around the yard and discover bird habitats making it a great way to get kids outside.
Do you make a habit of getting outside during the winter? What tricks do you use to entice your kids to get outside? We’d love for you to share them with us!