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The Benefits of Cold Weather Play

At this time of year, it’s tempting to hibernate indoors until warmer weather appears in the spring. However, there are countless reasons why you and your family should bundle up and head outside for some cold weather play. It’s a common misconception that children should only play outside when the weather is warm, when in fact cold weather play is not only safe but also incredibly beneficial for children’s physical and mental development.


Here’s why you should encourage outside play during the winter months;



1. Boosts immunity 

Exposure to cold weather can help strengthen your child’s immune system. While making sure your child is wrapped up well, cold weather adventures can make them more resilient to common illnesses. Cold temperatures stimulate the production of white blood cells which increases the body’s efficiency at fighting off infections.


2. Avoid the germs

Children do not catch germs from being outside in cold weather. They pick up viruses due to spending more time indoors with others in artificially heated buildings with poor ventilation. This can lead to a buildup of airborne germs and therefore increases their chance of getting ill with viruses such as colds and coughs. So getting outside as much as possible during the winter is beneficial for avoiding many illnesses.


3. Top up on vitamin D

Most people can produce enough vitamin D by spending time outside even on cloudy days, but we do produce more vitamin D if it’s sunny. So the lack of sunshine during the winter months makes it all the more important to get children outside as often as possible to keep their levels topped up. Vitamin D helps their bodies to absorb calcium which is needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.


4. Enhances physical health

Outdoor play in cold weather involves lots of physical movement to avoid getting too cold. This helps children in many ways, such as developing strong muscles and improving cardiovascular fitness, balance, core strength, and gross motor skills.


5. Supports mental well-being 

Getting outside at any time of the year can positively affect children’s mental health. The fresh air and natural surroundings can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while promoting a general sense of well-being.


6. Teaches resilience

Facing challenging weather conditions and adapting to them can teach children valuable life skills, including resilience, adaptability, and the ability to overcome obstacles.


7. Fosters social skills

Outdoor activities often involve teamwork and collaboration, whether it’s organising a winter scavenger hunt or building a snowman. These activities are not only great for encouraging cooperative play but also help children to develop their communication and social skills.


8. Boosts creativity

The outside world provides a blank canvas for creativity. Children can let their imaginations run wild as they build forts, invent games and stories, or even experiment with ice and snow.


9. Reduces screen time

Getting outside is a great way to reduce screen time and encourage children to unplug from electronic devices, promoting a healthier balance between indoor and outdoor activities.



So let’s explore some fun outdoor activities children can enjoy during the winter…


Scavenger hunts 

Use a scavenger hunt to show your child that there are interesting things to find in nature during the colder months, and keep them warm by making the hunt more active. Set off on a walk to the local park and get them searching for things like pinecones, winter berries, holly, and frozen puddles. Tell them to be on the lookout for wildlife such as squirrels, robins, and foxes. And keep warm by “flapping like a snowy owl”, “waddling like a penguin”, “twirling like a snowflake” etc. 


Puddle jumping 

The winter brings more rain. Rain makes puddles, and puddles are supposed to be jumped in! Jumping helps to develop balance, strength, and agility in little legs. Generally, children don’t need much encouragement to get involved in puddle play, a puddle is like a child magnet. Make a game of it by asking them to investigate what kind of jump makes the biggest splash; if they can kick all the water out of the puddle; what happens if they stir the puddle. Just remember to make sure your child is dressed appropriately for this very wet, and potentially muddy, activity! 


Obstacle course

An obstacle course will not only help to keep your child warm when playing outside, but it will also give them a full body workout. Get them involved in the preparation, using any resources you may have, such as tunnels to crawl through, planks to balance on, cones to navigate, and ‘hurdles’ to jump over. Make it more interesting by timing how long it takes them to complete the course or challenge them to do the course while balancing an egg, or something similar but less messy if dropped, on a spoon.


Outdoor art 

If your child enjoys drawing or painting, give them washable pavement chalk or paints to create a masterpiece on the patio, driveway, or pavement. Drawing and painting outside will naturally encourage bigger movements than doing the same indoors, which will help your child to develop their gross motor skills and strength in their larger muscles. Products like Paint Pop Paint Sticks are not only suitable for use on paper, they can also be used on objects like leaves, pebbles, wood etc, so great for encouraging your child to interact with their natural outdoor surroundings while practising more intricate and controlled hand movements.


Ice bubbles 

Bubble solution, which usually comes out during warmer months for outdoor playtime, reacts differently with the air in cold temperatures. On a really cold day, leave the bottle of solution outside for a while so it gets cold. Then to form the bubbles, your child will need to wave the bubble wand in the air, as opposed to blowing it with their warm breath – these Glove-A-Bubbles are fun. It is possible if you’re gentle enough, to catch the bubbles and watch as they ice over in your hand. Unfortunately, they won’t stay intact for long – as ice crystals form, tiny cracks will appear and the bubbles will pop or break up like the shell of a cracked egg. Make a game of seeing who can make the most bubbles before they pop.


Fly a kite 

Winter is a windy time of year, so it’s a great time to fly a kite. Not only is it lots of fun, but it will teach your child patience and perseverance as mastering kite control can be tricky and often takes time, but they will be rewarded with a sense of accomplishment when they see their kite soaring in the sky! 



Winter is the best season for stargazing – it gets dark earlier, you can see more sky as the leaves have fallen off the trees, and there’s less moisture in the air which can obscure starlight. Simply gaze up at the night sky with the naked eye or upgrade with a telescope. Stargazing has many health benefits – not only does it make you feel more connected to nature, but it can also make you feel calm, decreasing stress, anxiety and depression. And with no distractions, it is also a great opportunity for you to bond with your child.


So don’t let the dipping temperatures stop your child from playing outside this winter.

Remember, with the right gear and attitude, your family can enjoy the great outdoors and reap its benefits all year round!