Don’t let a little cold keep your kids from exploring the outdoors this winter.
“It’s important to get kids outdoors from an early age – even as infants – so they are used to experiencing the sensations and are comfortable in nature,” says Joshua York, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor connections education supervisor. “Let kids touch the snow and embrace the sensory experiences nature has to offer.”
Studies show children are smarter, more cooperative, happier and healthier when they play outdoors, according to the nonprofit organization Children & Nature Network.
“Playing with snow is wonderful, and winter is a great time for kids to use their imaginations outdoors,” says Doug Horvath, Five Rivers MetroParks outdoor connections education supervisor. “Familiar parks and even the backyard are new and exotic when snow-covered or when frozen water forms beautiful ice formations.”
The key to making sure kids are safe and comfortable when playing outdoors is in the clothing. Like adults, kids should dress in layers – and take off hats and gloves, if only for a minute, if they start to sweat while playing.
“I have seen children happily flop onto the snow and lay on it comfortably when they are well dressed,” Horvath says. “Sledding, exploring and just hanging out all become fun when you are well padded against the chill. Packing a thermos of hot coca and an extra blanket and going on an adventure can become a favorite family memory.”
Other suggestions for enjoying the outdoors include:
Help kids create large snowballs and stack them to make snow people or animals.
Break some ice from buckets or frozen puddles to use as ice palace walls.
Blow bubbles outside and see if they freeze.
Monitor the temperature outside to discover the coldest and warmest parts of the day.
Look for animal tracks in the snow or mud and see if you can identify them.
Have a backyard campfire, combined with Dutch oven cooking. (It’s not just for summer.)
Visit metroparks.org/winter for more on experiencing the outdoors this winter.