10 of the Best Outdoor Winter Play Ideas

Want to encourage your kids to get outside more in the winter? Then having a few winter play ideas in your back pocket can go a long way in getting them outdoors and having fun all season long!

a pin image that reads winter play invitations with two differente images the top image is of a mud kitchen counter with a scatterings of ingredients and tools; a bowl of shaving cream, a pan of cranberries, red and green water in squeeze bottles, a bowl and spoon to the side and pine sprigs scattered around. The bottom image is of six squeeze bottles arranged in a 6 point star or a color wheel, as each bottle is a different color of the rainbow. The are laying in the sun in freshly fallen snow

If you are attempting 1000 hours outside, the day will inevitably come when your child complains that they don’t want to go outside and play. All you need is a winter play idea!

We’ve all been there…stuck inside the house for too many days in a row. It feels like everyone is sick, bored, and stir-crazy at the same time. This is where a winter play idea or invitation to create and explore can come in handy.

What is the 1000 Hours Outside Challenge?

To put it simply it is a personal challenge to try and have your kids spend 1000 hours outside. It looks different for every family and every year. You can find out more about the challenge HERE

You can follow along with our personal challenge on my Instagram

We have been doing 1000 hours outside for three years now and I have had to get a little more creative when it comes to my winter play ideas.

Other posts about outdoor play

a pin image that reads +50 must have outdoor toys in a teal colored circle in the center of the images and behind that is a color wheel of crayola chalk on a paver patio

Winter Play Ideas are a Tool 

I certainly don’t set up a winter play every time we go outside and some of them are more complicated than others depending on both my energy level and how long I can expect them to actually stay outside. I’ve seen equal amounts of play come out of either scenario. So don’t feel pressured to have to go over the top every time you do a setup.

Thankfully we live in Colorado where we see a ton of sun, even in the winter and that has helped me a lot but it’s still nice to have some winter play ideas in my back pocket!

a pin image that reads 10 0f the best winter play ideas with 8 skinny strips of pictures showing. On top of each is a text title to correspond to the image

My Favorite Winter Play Ideas – In no particular order

  • Snow Play…yes I know this is obvious but seriously anytime we get any snow we are out as soon as we can all be dressed. Snowman and snow angels are the frist thing, but we always end up at snowballs. Sledding is a special treat for my girls as we have only ever done it at my folks place. So they are always super excited when they get the chance
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - snow play - perfect for 1000 hours outside  in the image behind it has a little girl dressed in pink snowpants, boots, hat and gloves and a navy blue star coat on a birght blue sleed sliding down a snow hill. She is laughing and her blonde hair is blown into her face
  • Ice sculptures – freeze colored water in tin baking sheets then pop out and break in to chunks (or find ice around your home if you have it) then let them build with the ice chunks.
  • Mud Kitchen Invitation– This is what I set up when I have some kitchen scraps to use up and there’s no snow to play with. The last time I did it we had some cranberries that were done. So I tossed those, some pine sprigs clipped from a tree, some green and red water, and some shaving cream “snow” out on their mud kitchen and they got busy cooking and experimenting!
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - scrap kitchen - perfect for 1000 hours outside  The image behind is a mud kitchen counter with a scatterings of ingredients and tools; a bowl of shaving cream, a pan of cranberries, red and green water in squeeze bottles, a bowl and spoon to the side and pine sprigs scattered around.
  • Snow Kitchen – Snow is a perfect ingredient to cook with in your mud kitchen, if you’ve got good packing snow you can easily make cakes and cupcakes. If it’s a fluffy snow wisk it up or add water to melt it and as always mud, sand, rocks, and sticks are good additions to this as well!
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - snow cafe - perfect for 1000 hours outside. The image behind shows a little girl in a blue jacket with a floral pattern holding a squeeze bottle of pink water standing next to a wooden raised garden bed. She is squeezing water into a silver pot sitting in the snow in the garden bed  in front of her
  • Snow Cookies – compress some snow and bring out the cookie cutters! This is especially fun if you have the spring-loaded cookie cutters or the more detailed ones! For even more fun grab some paint and paint your cookies!
  • Warm water squeeze bottles. These things alone have given me HOURS of outside time. The warm water keeps their hands warm and the colored water is always a hit no matter the season. They usually end up using the water in their mud kitchen but it’s not unheard of to see them use it to draw in the snow or to just squeeze the water out onto the ground. If you’re going to use it as a drawing painting tool, be heavy-handed with the food dye. 
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - Snow Paint - perfect for 1000 hours outside  The image behind shows a gloved hand of a little girl drawing in the freshly fallen snow with a squeeze bottle. She has drawn a hear with a smiley face
  • Snow Paths – if you have a nice flat space and a fresh blanket of snow use either your feet or a shovel to make paths in the snow, sorta like a balance beam without the balancing part!
  • Painting on Ice – we have a downspout that runs down our driveway AND sits in the shade almost all day. So we build up ice over the winter. Washable paint shows up really nice and the experience of painting on ice is very different from paper!
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - painting on ice - perfect for 1000 hours outside. the image behind shows a little girl in a pink sweater, gray leggings and brown boots standing on a sheet of ice and bending down to put two paintbrushes onto the ice.
  • Winter Forts – not quite igloo level, though if you have the time/inclination and weather for it ive heard amazing things about it! No provide some sticks, plastic clips and sheets and let them make blanket forts. This does work best if you have somewhere for them to drape the sheet from.
  • Take Toys Out! – my biggest mom hack if you can call it that is don’t be afraid to take toys outside. Most everything your kids play with can handle a bit of moisture or is washable. Animal figures, cars and trucks, play silks, baby dolls, and so many other toys are perfectly acceptable to bring outside and the new combination with the snow will likely spark some super fun play
a pin image that has three skinny text boxes on the bottom of the images and reads outdoor winter play invitations - take inside out - perfect for 1000 hours outside. The image behind has a little girl in a pink coat, purple hat, mittens and snow pants sitting on a swing with a rainbow play silk hanging from her mouth. the ground is covered in a light layer of snow

Winter Play ideas for more engaged time outside

My goal anytime I set up an invitation to play is simply to get their creative juices flowing and get them outside. Outside time is SO good for their little brains and bodies. Sometimes they complain about going outside, and a winter play idea is a great way to make it new and exciting again!

a pin image that reads outdoor winter play for 1000 hours winter fun in a blue text box in the center of the image, 4 square images of little girls playing in snow and ice are on either side of the center text box for a total of 8 images

Share your favorite winter play ideas down in the comments and if you are attempting the 1000 hours outside challenge how do you get your winter hours?

a pin image that reads wat our outdoor toy rotations looks like
a pin image that reads 1000 hours outside gear guide for winter weather
a pin image that reads a day in the life SAHM routine

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