Keep your children entertained throughout the winter

by NDFAuthors

  • Dec 04, 2013

Winter has well and truly set in and hibernation seems like the only appropriate option for us daylight deprived adults.

However, hibernation seems far from the mind of children as they bound around with just as much energy and just as much need for activity as the rest of the year. Outdoor activities are somewhat restricted as the parks are shrouded in darkness as you pick them up from school. There are no longer the easy summer evenings of bike rides, throwing a Frisbee or lounging on a picnic rug. There are however, many options to make the most of winter.



Wrap up warm. There is always the saying that there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit. No one has fun if they are cold, wet and miserable but these can be prevented with the right clothing. Make sure if you are walking in the dark you remain visible to cars and bikes by using florescent strips. Stay active. It really is so important for children to have the opportunity to be physically active and having had the chance to run off all that energy, they will be much easier to entertain at home. If you are struggling for space or somewhere out of the dark, think about what your local area has to offer whether a swimming pool, soft play centre or floodlit sports pitches. If you are stuck inside and have limited space, children can still be active using items such as balloons, which aren’t going to damage anything. Children also always love to make up dance routines and this can be an excellent way of using limited space creatively. Use the seasons. Autumn and winter have lots to offer – puddles to be jumped in, leaves to roll in, conkers to be found and snowmen to make. Make up a winter nature trail. There is always something special about discovering a frozen spider’s web or looking at the patterns that frost makes on leaves.


Conduct science experiments. This is the perfect time of year for children to understand the effects of temperature on solids, liquids and gases. Leave one container of water outside overnight to see it freeze and another inside and compare the difference. What happens when you bring the ice back into the warm? How much quicker does it melt if you put it by a heater? You can even make decorations for the garden using this idea by filling some balloons with food colouring and let them freeze. Once frozen take away the balloon coating and you have some giant, coloured ice marbles. Once again this is a great way to show how solids and liquids act differently – how liquids fit the space of their container whilst solids have a fixed shape. You could even freeze objects inside ice trays or inside the frozen balloons for children to experiment with different ways of getting them out.


If it is several degrees below 0 ° outside, take out some bubble mixture with a wand, watch them freeze in the air and see what happens to them when they pop. There is really nothing better than curling up by the fire with a hot chocolate after being busy outside.

Craft ideas

Winter provides a wealth of craft opportunities whether taking leaves home and creating collages or making ‘bug hotels’ using natural provisions. Children also love leaf and bark rubbings trialling out different textures.


Making Christmas decorations can while away many a happy hour. Paper chains are simple, yet effective and children love to see their hard work on display as they really feel as if they are contributing. Snowflakes are another favourite. 3D models can be made using different length pipe cleaners and look effective on the Christmas tree. Paper cut-outs look fantastic on the window and are always good to encourage children to work on their dexterity with scissors. Make salt dough decorations. Put 1 cup of salt and 2 cups of flour into a bowl and slowly add ¾ of a cup of water. Mix it all together (children can also help with this). Dust the table with flour and roll it out before using cookie cutters to make wintery shapes (children could also use it to model freely). Once dry (either leave overnight near a heater or bake in the oven), they can be decorated. Winter can offer so many options for exploration and discovery even if it is dark and the weather is less than desirable. Sometimes children need to develop a certain robustness if they are reluctant in these conditions, and almost always, as soon as they are engaged, all complaints disappear. This could be as simple as introducing hide and seek into a winter walk where they have to run ahead and hide, or set a treasure hunt for them to follow using a trail of flour to guide their way. How do you keep your children busy during the winter months and how do you ensure that they get enough physical activity? We would love to hear your ideas. Featured photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} / / CC BY-NC-ND