As the cold and snowy weather continues into January, it’s easy to want to burrow away at home while wearing your coziest clothes. That might be fun for a day or two, but you’ll soon catch a case of cabin fever — or at least the kids will.
Winter can be the perfect time to build memories with your children. Get out there, get active, and have some fun enjoying these winter activities with your family.
Sledding is the perfect outdoor activity for kids of all ages, and walking up the hill over and over will give you enough exercise that you can skip the gym. Whether you’re using the classic plastic sleds or some more modern designs like an inflatable snow tube or a snow scooter, you’re sure to have some fun. Check out the hill at Emily Murphy Park if you have small children because it can be a bit safer than others. Older kids will enjoy the enormous hill at Gallagher Park, but the steep walk might be a bit difficult for young kids.
Winter is the time to hit the slopes, and childhood is a great time to learn to ski because kids have the fearlessness that adults so often lack. Snow Valley Ski Club, Sunridge and Rabbit Hill Snow Resort are all close, so you can easily spend just a few hours skiing. If you’re looking for something different — and don’t mind a road trip and/or overnight stay — check out Marmot Basin or Lake Louise. All of these facilities offer skiing lessons.
Ice skating is a common pastime in Edmonton, so you’re sure to find an ice skating rink nearby. Communities like Cy Becker even have its own skating rink right in the neighbourhood! If there isn't an outdoor rink close by, check out recreation centres for places to skate or look at the City of Edmonton website for some outdoor options.
You don’t have to go far to have some winter fun with your family. There’s plenty you can do right in your backyard.
Start by building a snowman. These days, you can purchase “snowman kits” at most big box stores. The kits have the things you need to decorate your snowman — a hat and scarf, along with plastic pieces that look like coal for the eyes and mouth and a carrot for the nose. Of course, it’s also fun to improvise with things you have lying around the house.
Young children might enjoy painting on the snow with special paints. If you have older kids, though, it’s time for a snowball fight. Set up some forts, make a lot of snowballs, and have at it.
The cold winter is the perfect time for science experiments. Set out a bowl to collect the snow that falls, and measure it once an hour. You can even try measuring as it melts. With young children, you can simply graph the results over time. Older kids can even use their math skills to calculate a rate of change after graphing the results.
If you encounter one of those days where there’s no snow on the ground but the bitter cold makes you want to stay in, there are a few fun experiments to do on that don’t require you to be outside for long. The first is blowing bubbles. You probably think of this as a summer activity, but when you blow bubbles outside in the winter, they’ll freeze. Kids can check out the awesome ice fractals.
Another fun thing is to check out the Mpemba Effect. This is the counter intuitive idea that hot water freezes more quickly than cold water. To see this, take a cup or pan full of cold water outside, then throw it into the air. It should fall to the ground as water. However, if you take the same amount of boiling water and throw it into the air, it will instantly freeze into ice crystals that fall to the ground.
Obviously, this is an experiment that parents may want to handle so that the kids don’t get hurt.
Maple Syrup Snow Candy
Ready for a traditional winter treat? Start by boiling some maple syrup, then pour it onto the snow. The snow will quickly cool the hot syrup, and this turns it into taffy-like treat. You’ll need a stick to collect your syrup and a batch of fresh snow.
The cold winter weather makes us want to stay inside with a movie or a good book, but don’t forget that there’s plenty of fun to be had. Give our ideas a try! Your kids will want to put their iPads down and enjoy the great outdoors more often this winter. That's a parenting win!