Thursday, January 27, 2011

Guide for outdoor fun in winter

People have commented on how often we're outside.  I had a friend say once that she was solar powered, and needed the sun.  I would say I'm fresh-air powered; I need to breathe fresh air to feel right.  I know that most people think going outside in the winter is miserable, but I love it as much as being outside in any other season.

The key is knowing how to go about it. It doesn't take much preparation, nor much time. First off, take a few minutes and think about some things. The weather-is it severe or mild? High winds or negative temperatures are reasons to stay indoors, esp with toddlers and preschoolers. Also consider this-are you or your little people in a funk, or actually sick? The winter air can be helpful to some colds, but fever and aches need to stay inside. If the weather is right and you need to get out, the next step is to get the necessary items for an outdoor excursion. As for clothing, 3 layers are best, 2 fitted under layers & a waterproof outer layer.

Next you need a small backpack. Why small? Why a backpack? Small so that you don't try to carry to much, a backpack so your hands are free. Now then, what to pack. A list of basics- travel size first aid kit, water bottles, snacks, cellphone & house keys, extra gloves, socks and pants. The pants should be sweatpants or fleece, and if you use them, it's time to head home. You can add to that a nature guide, camera, and a small towel.
But what is there to do in the cold, you ask?  Plenty.  When there's snow, you can look for tracks-animal, people, vehicle.  You can also make tracks, using sticks, toys, whatever you can think of.  Have the person with the biggest stride take the longest steps they can, and then everyone else tries to walk in their footprints.  Hard packed snow can be slippery, so be careful, but you can also have slide races to see who can go the farthest.  Snow has a quieting effect, stand still and listen, walk quietly and hear the sound of your feet.  There are different consistences of snow, soft and powdery, wet and slushy, and few others.  You can make snow men, snow animals, snow angels.  When it's the right kind of snow for packing, you can attempt to build a igloo.  Of course, there's always sledding.
When there's no snow and it's just cold? Regular outdoor games, as well as nature walks are fulfilling ways to spend time. Ice can be hours of fun, just be sure to have spare gloves. You can make sculptures, use pieces as windows, play foot hockey, and just enjoy looking at what's frozen inside of the ice. 
How long to stay out is a good question. There are outdoor preschools that stay out in frigid cold and all types of weather. If you're not used to being outside, start slowly, for your sake and the kids. Under 4s shouldn't be out for more than a half hour; work your way up the time scale, just remember to be dressed appropriately. Some people would say that it's not worth going out because you spend more time getting ready than you do actually out of doors. And yes, in the beginning, it is like that, however, you'll quickly become adept at getting ready, and that process will go faster. Also, just because getting ready takes a long time doesn't mean it's not worth it-the benefits of  being outdoors for even just a few minutes are many and varied.  If you keep putting off going outside until all circumstances are "just right" you'll miss many fun hours of outdoor play.
For those of you that are book lovers, like me, I recommend these books-

Nature's Playground, by Fiona Danks & Jo Schofield-This is the only book I've found that offers ideas specifically for cold weather play, which is unfortunate.
Sharing Nature with Children, by Joseph Cornell-learning activites that can be used in cold weather, and just a great outdoor book.  You should read Sharing Nature with Children II, it expands on how to use Flow Learning a wonderful teaching method for children or adults. 

  There are several others, these are just the ones I happen to have in my collection.  I've also got a number of outdoor activity books that are out of print-all of them were found at Goodwill and garage sales.

Being outside in cold weather provides just as many fun experiences as warmer weather, with same amount of planning s going to the pool or the park for a picnic.  Look forward to it, plan and dress right, and make memories.  Since I'm posting this at the end of winter, you've got 3 seasons to pump yourself up to have some winter fun!

No comments:

Post a Comment