Have fun and stay warm playing outdoor games.

Outside Games for Toddlers During Cold Weather

by Susan Ahearn

Even when the weather turns chilly, toddlers and parents can still have fun outside. Your 12- to 36-month-old child doesn’t like to sit still for long. Keep her busy and stay warm while enjoying outside games. Plan to play games involving short bursts of activity. Kids this age cannot focus their attention for too long. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, play is how children learn and discover the world. So get out there, get moving and explore.

Dress for the Weather

Dress your toddler in warm, rain- or snow-resistant clothing. Don’t forget a hat and mittens. Choose slip-proof boots or shoes and warm socks. Wearing layers helps maintain body heat, plus you can remove a layer if the day warms up. If you’re playing in snow or rain, have extra dry clothes handy.

Games for All Toddlers

During the brisk days of fall, rake leaves with your child, then count together how many times she can jump into the pile. Purchase a foam football and set up “goal posts” using plastic garden stakes or lawn chairs. Toss the football to your child and watch as she scores a touchdown. Begin by placing the goalpost 10 to 12 feet from your child, then place them further away as she improves. Create your own toy bowling game in your yard using milk cartons or plastic bottles. Then roll any type of medium to large ball, or even snowballs, to knock down the pins.

1-Year-Old Play

Your 1-year-old has now developed the cognitive ability to imitate adults or older siblings. Play follow the leader in the snow. Make tracks for your toddler to imitate. Call out what you are doing and ask your child to join you repeating the words. Mix up batches of snow paint by combining water and food coloring in a spray bottle. Spray a large 6-foot circle in the snow. Then challenge your toddler to throw snowballs into the circle. Stay near the edge of the circle at first until she improves her throw.

2-Year-Old Play

Your 2-year-old is rapidly gaining new vocabulary. Discuss cold weather, snow and ice, and that cold temperatures freeze water to create ice. Play a “freezing” game: When you say “freeze,” she must stay still as ice; when you say go, she may move as water moves. Continue learning about freezing temperatures using a bubble solution and wand to see if the temperature is cold enough for the bubbles to freeze. Hold the wand still after the bubble forms and wait a couple of minutes. Try this on very cold days, and then on a warmer day to compare what happens.

About the Author

Susan Ahearn holds a bachelor's degree in English from UMass Lowell. She began her career as a writer in a small college public relations office in 1986. Ahearn also has nine years of experience as a reading and writing tutor.

Photo Credits

  • Child Outside Playing image by Leticia Wilson from Fotolia.com