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Winter Fun for Tweens and Teens

If the long-range forecast is correct, Calgarians are in for a longer, colder, and snowier winter than we had last year. While some of you may be cheering, others may be wondering how to keep the kids entertained through these long, cold months. First and foremost, it’s about attitude - if you complain about the cold weather, so will your kids. If you dress for the cold weather, there’s absolutely no reason not to get outside and enjoy our beautiful Calgary sunshine and view of the Rocky Mountains. Also, winter offers us a great opportunity
to slow down, get a little creative, and maybe even get around to some tasks we’ve been putting off all year. Here’s my list of top 5 boredom busters for tweens and teens.

1. Photographer for a day. If your teen is like mine, pictures really are worth a thousand words. With new and popular apps like Instagram and VSCO, teens love getting ‘artsy’ photos in and around YYC! You could offer to be your teen’s ‘Photographer for the Day’ and take them around to all of the most ‘Insta-worthy’ locations in Calgary. They would love having their picture taken with the huge head, officially called Wonderland, at the Bow Tower. Amazing panoramic views of our city can be seen from the Hillcrest look-off or Scotsman’s Hill. Unique architecture exists at the Ramsey Ruins in the city’s southeast. Look at this as an opportunity to work on your own photo skills, while keeping your teen entertained at the same time.

2. Photo print day. Have you noticed you take tons of great pictures, but you never print them off? Your kids likely have lots of great pictures, too, that they would love to display in their room or in a collage. Designate
a Saturday or a Sunday as Photo Print Day! Gather together - with everyone’s phones, laptops, and tablets - and pick a few of your favorites to print. These days, you can do so much with your photos. Your kids might enjoy having their photos made into pillows, blankets, photo cubes, and even shower curtains!

3. Doers and dreamers. Ask all family members to make a list of things, places, and activities they dream about doing. These can include their dream vacation or other wild and crazy ideas. And while you may not be able to make their dreams come true right now, maybe you can incorporate some of their ideas or themes into your next family vacation or weekend getaway. If your tween or teen dreams of scaling Mt. Everest, find a rock-climbing wall; if your tween or teen Picasso dreams of being a famous artist, take a painting class together. It’s fun to see what your kids dream about. This can
also serve as a great lesson in budgeting and saving for a goal.

4. Family 5K. Don’t let chilly weather slow you down. If your family enjoys running - or even brisk walking - head to Calgary’s amazing network of pathways to get some exercise in the great outdoors. Did you know
 the City clears snow and ice from 400 kilometres of its 800 kilometre pathway system? Some of my family’s favorite paths to walk and run are the Elbow River, Bow River, North Glenmore Park, and Nose Creek Pathway. Of course, making sure you are dressed for the cold weather is key to enjoying this activity - a hat, gloves, and technical layers that whisk away sweat are crucial. If there’s a windchill, make sure a scarf or balaclava is protecting exposed skin. And remember to promptly get out of sweaty clothes when you return home after the run. You can also cap off your winter running season with a family-friendly 1K kids’ race, 5K, or 10K. And remember, walking is always a great option for exercise, too! 

5. Karaoke night. Karaoke never really goes out of style. This is a guaranteed way to get the whole family singing and laughing. You can rent a karaoke machine and invite some friends or extended family over and make a night of it. It can be particularly entertaining with a variety of ages, including older aunts, uncles, and grandparents, as it gives your kids an appreciation for older styles of music. They may be surprised that Grandma has such a lovely voice! Meanwhile, it gives the younger generation a chance to show off their rap and dance skills.

Photo organization tips

You’ve been putting it off because it seems like such an overwhelming task, but setting some time aside to organize your photos will pay off in the long-run.

Follow these steps to avoid digital clutter:

  • Get those pictures off your camera! Make a habit of uploading them to your computer soon after you finish that particular event or session. 

  • Always use the same photo storing program each time so they’re all in one place. 

  • Organize the photos into individual folders, and give them a name that makes sense to you. Organizing by years and major events (like weddings and birthdays, for example) is a popular system. 

  • Within the ‘Years’ folder, you may want to do sub-folders of each month. 

  • Back up your photo storing program onto an external drive, so if your computer crashes, your photos are safe. Or always upload photos to the Cloud.

  • Some people choose an online storage system, which may cost a fee, to protect against fire and loss. This is also handy because you can access your photos from anywhere, as long as you have Internet service. A wonderful and free website is Flickr.

  • You may choose to print a photo book or put individual photos in an album, scrapbook, or frames around the house.

So don’t let old man winter get you and your family down! With these great indoor and outdoor family fun options, maybe, just maybe, you will wish the snow would stay a little bit longer come springtime.

Michelle is a freelance writer based in Calgary, and a mom of three. She writes for numerous publications, and explores the challenges of parenting tweens and teens on her personal blog,


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