Sign up

It's Cold - Get Out and Play Anyway!

Do you feel like it’s the same old boring thing year after year? After the beauty of Fall fades, the next frigid season creeps in slowly. A season that makes some of the world’s most resilient animals think, ‘Yeah, no, gonna sleep through this one!’ I’m talking about winter. 

Winter makes us feel the need to bury ourselves under every blanket in the house, turn on the fireplace, and debate whether letting your kids watch TV for the next five months straight is reasonable. Anyone with me? I haven’t always been the biggest fan of winter, and my fiancé is even less impressed than I am with this long season.

Unfortunately (but also fortunately), my five-year-old child tends to set the stage for my family’s daily activities, so… outside we go! He has truly helped me warm my relationship with old man winter. Greatly. I’ve come to love it! So, I’m going to spend the next little while trying to convince you. While winter isn’t the easiest season to tolerate, it can be one of the most fun! Believe me?

Safety first! First, let’s quickly touch on safety. Safety while enjoying the outdoors is always important, but I would say it’s the most critical during winter with all of the ice, snow, and darkness (I know… I’m selling it. Please keep reading!). I’ll keep it short. I strongly suggest you check the forecast and over-pack with many layers and backups if you’re heading out. If your kiddo is typically unimpressed with the cold weather, bringing hand and foot warmers can help keep them toasty - and you happy!

Winter fun in your backyard

Let’s realistically assume you’re not going on long-distance adventures every weekend. (More likely, your kids are going stir crazy stuck in the house, begging to make a fort with all of the couch cushions for the fifth time - but who's counting?!)

If you’re looking to keep the winter fun on your property, here are a few tried-and-true ideas to have a blast out in the snow:

  • Make an army of snowmen. Why make one giant snowman when you can make 20 little ones? Make sure your snowmen can see, touch, and smell. Take a few moments prior to building, collecting rocks and fallen twigs, to animate your future buddies!

  • Get creative with LEGO! These iconic building blocks are likely strewn all over your house (hands up if you’ve been stabbed in the foot by LEGOS at some point).
    Follow these steps to create an activity sure to last for days:

    1. First, make a few fun structures inside with your kid(s), and collect some LEGO characters (or other figurines).Head out and make a snow hill or two.
    2. Plant the structures and figurines around the snow hill and pretend the LEGO characters are climbing a mountain!
    Follow-up bonus: take pictures of the creation! Print the pictures out, cut and paste them into a blank book, and write the adventure into a story!

  • Make an igloo. This one can take time, but luckily - note the sarcasm - winter lasts about half the year in Alberta. If making ice or snow blocks the size of ice cream buckets is unrealistic, use smaller containers to start building. You can also use food coloring to make each block fun colors! If the igloo is too small for your kiddo(s) to fit inside, I’m sure there’s a ton of fun ahead for the dinosaurs and Barbies in the house!

Winter fun out and about

If you’ve made it this far, I’m pleased! I’ve saved the best for last. My family loves getting out of our backyard as much as possible and although everyone may not have access to a wilderness cabin, you don’t need one to explore winter’s wonders!

These ideas can be done in your neighborhood, a local park, or winter campground:

  • Picture scavenger hunt. All you need is a kid-friendly camera (or a cell phone if you really trust your kid), and an imagination! Make a list of outdoor items (or download my list at and then hit the neighborhood to collect all of the items on your list! The most points get a prize. Remember: snap pics, or it didn’t happen!

  • This one is obvious: ice skating. Hit local skating rinks or better yet, hit the mountains! If you can manage to get out on a long-distance adventure, I highly recommend skating on a crystal-clear lake with a snowy mountain backdrop. It’s a Canadian classic and everyone should do it at least once in their lifetime. If you’re not a skater and are lucky enough to own snowshoes, the mountains offer lots of avalanche-free trails.

  • My personal favorite: winter camping… yes, camping. Even if it’s just for the day! Pack your camp chairs, hotdog sticks, and anything else you feel ambitious to do (yes, pack your tent and sleeping bag!) and hit your local park or campground. Want to know the best part? Not a lot of people are likely to be out with you, so pack your portable stereo and have a snowy dance party!

Well, friends, that’s about it. I hope these ideas are helpful - or at the very least, piqued your interest enough to put on woolly socks and give winter a shot. We’re all in the same boat here in Alberta, and I think it’s important to try and make the best out of this very cold situation - especially since the animals are the only ones lucky enough to hibernate, so we might as well do something, right?

Carrie is a medical laboratory scientist, mother, writer, and amateur photographer in Edmonton, who is usually found exploring the outdoors with her family. She also loves to connect with like-minded adventurers. Check out her blog,, or connect with her on Instagram @__carrielynnn. Article and photo were originally published on the blog, 



Calgary’s Child Magazine © 2021 Calgary’s Child