National Play Outside Day, observed on the first Saturday of each month, is a celebration that encourages families and communities to embrace the great outdoors, regardless of the season. While many may associate outdoor play with the warm days of summer, it’s just as important to get kids outside during the winter months.
Regardless of the season, outdoor activities promote physical health, mental well-being, and a deeper connection with the natural world. It’s a day that encourages families to leave behind the digital screens and immerse themselves in the beauty of nature.
Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids
Snow Play: Snow is a wonderful canvas for outdoor creativity. Encourage your kids to build snow forts, have snowball fights, and create snow angels. It’s not only fun but also helps develop their motor skills and coordination.
Sledding and Tobogganing: There is no shortage of hills in our area. So locate some hilly terrain for some thrilling sledding or tobogganing. These activities promote physical fitness and are perfect for family bonding. You can even make a day of it and head to a place like Frick Park or North Park , where you’ll find designated sledding hills that are perfect for a thrilling day or sledding.
Winter Hikes: Explore the winter wonderland by taking your children on a hike. Bundle up and go on a nature walk, teaching them about the unique features of winter landscapes. You can simply take a walk around your neighborhood, or make the short drive to Bradys Run Park where trails are abundant.
Ice Skating: Pittsburgh has several outdoor ice skating rinks that open during the winter. The Schenley Park Skating Rink and the MassMutual Pittsburgh Ice Rink at PPG Place are popular choices where kids can lace up their skates and glide across the ice, creating cherished winter memories. Ice skating is also a fantastic way for kids to develop balance and agility.
Bird Watching: Western PA is home to a variety of bird species, and winter is a great time to observe them. Set up bird feeders in your backyard or visit local birdwatching hotspots like the National Aviary and Frick Park, where your kids can learn about the different birds that thrive in the cold season. Observing and identifying birds can be a fascinating and educational activity.
Nature Scavenger Hunt: Create a winter-themed scavenger hunt, where children search for items like pinecones, icicles, and animal tracks. This promotes both physical activity and curiosity.
National Play Outside Day is a great opportunity to kick-start a year-round commitment to outdoor play for your children. Encouraging outdoor activities in the winter not only provides countless physical and mental health benefits but also instills a love for nature and exploration that can last a lifetime. With a bit of creativity and preparation, you can turn the colder months into a season of outdoor adventure and fun for your family. So, embrace the winter wonderland and celebrate National Play Outside Day by fostering a lifelong connection with the great outdoors.
Tips for Encouraging Outdoor Play in the Winter
Proper clothing is essential for winter outdoor play. Ensure your children are dressed in layers to stay warm and dry. Don’t forget gloves, hats, and warm socks.
Set a Positive Example Children are more likely to embrace outdoor play if they see their parents enjoying it as well. Lead by example and participate in outdoor activities with your kids.
Be aware of the weather conditions. Always prioritize safety, especially in cold weather. Check for ice hazards and ensure your kids are well-prepared for the outdoors.
Use technology to your advantage. Smartphone apps and websites can provide information on the best outdoor winter activities in your area, as well as weather updates.
Plan Outdoor Playdates Invite friends and their kids for outdoor playdates. The social aspect can make outdoor play even more enjoyable and encourage regular participation.