Winter Adventures – Snow Activities for Kids

Blog custom Snow Activities for Kids

Winter is one of those seasons that you tend to either love or hate. The cold, the snow, the blustery wind and ice. Yet there is a beauty in winter that is unrefined, undiscovered and definitely under appreciated.

Think about how the kids light up with delight when they see those first snowflakes falling from the sky, excited to get home and play in it, even if it is just the tiniest fluff. They’re not thinking about how they have to shovel it or how the roads are going to be. My kids often can’t wait to build a snowman or make a snow angel, and sometimes I have to tell them there just isn’t enough snow. But they go out anyway and try it or create something else.

I believe the key to appreciating winter is going out and doing fun activities that you enjoy, as well as knowing how to dress and how long to stay depending on the temperature. Because you don’t want to get frost bite or hypothermia no matter how much fun you’re having!snow activities for kids

Also exploring winter in different ways allows you to appreciate the unique things that the season offers, as well as providing some knowledge and understanding. Winter is a really beautiful season full of wonder. Think about the sunshine sparkling off the new fallen snow, glimmering in the the sunlight. The beauty and intricacy of a snowflake and how no two are ever alike.

It’s important to teach our children about the season and how to get out and enjoy it. Because let’s be honest, winter is not going to go away. It will always be here and unless you move – it’s happening. And with the growing rates of inactivity in children, it’s even more important to get them active and outside.

8 Fun Snow Activities for Kids

Use these snow activities to teach children about the beauty of winter and how to appreciate it. Children are naturally creative so these snow activities capitalize on their imaginations while using materials that are common in winter. It also helps them learn and question about what’s happening in the season.

Snow Painting 

snow activities for kidsA very simple but creative activity for children is painting or coloring in the snow. I did this with my preschool class at Trico and they were very engaged in it. We only had about 20 minutes that day but we could have easily doubled that time and kept them interested.

Mix a few drops of food coloring and water in a spray bottle and mix together. Pick a spot of undisturbed snow and spray the color on the snow. Sometimes we use plastic cookie cutters as a pattern and create a design. Do this by placing the cookie cutter on top of the snow and then have the child spray their color inside the cookie cutter. Gently lift the cookie cutter off the snow and voila! a perfect shape. You can also buy snow markers which comes with a colored powder that you add water to and mix in the marker bottle. This is a great idea but it is a one use for the mixture. The great thing about them is you have the marker container after the mixture is gone, which you can reuse again and again. Just add your own food coloring and water mixture.

Ice Castles

snow activities for kidsThis is one of my favorite snow activities for kids. It is like building a sand castle but you’re using ice instead! You have to plan ahead slightly to have your ice pieces ready but it is super fun, especially when you have beautiful colored blocks.

In a number of different sized containers, fill them with water and put in the freezer to freeze. If desired add food coloring to your water before freezing – this makes beautiful colored ice to use. Freeze a variety of shapes and colors – from ice cube trays to small yogurt containers.

Once frozen pop the ice out of the containers and let the children start building. They can create towers, cities or different kinds of sculptures. Encourage them to use the snow to help the ice stick together when needed.

Blow Bubbles

snow activities for kidsHave you ever blown bubbles outside in the winter? This is a really cool activity as the bubbles actually freeze. When the bubbles freeze you get amazing crystals of ice forming with unique designs (something you would’t see in warmer temperatures). It’s very cool because children can actually watch the bubbles freeze and the crystals form in the bubble. It’s a fascinating experience and one that will be different every time.

Snow Obstacle Course

Set up a small obstacle course in the snow. Pile up snow to make hills to go over or around, add in things like hula hoops for hopping or smaller piles of snow for weaving in and out of. Get the kids to help you create the obstacle course and then try it out!

Go Hunting for Tracks

snow activities for kidsGo exploring and look for animal tracks with the kids. Winter is one of the best times to see tracks as you have a great surface to create imprints. Help the kids identify the tracks and even create some of your own. This is best done in an area that is undisturbed by human traffic but to get started could be done around your neighborhood to discover dog, cat and bunny tracks.

Tic Tac Snow

Create a giant tic tac toe board in the snow. Use natural items like pine cones or twigs for the x’s and o’s. Taking turns one at a time each, each child places their natural item in a square, alternating until the board is full or one of them gets three in a row. The goal is to get a line of three of their natural items to win.

Snoball Throwing Contest

snow activities for kidsDraw a large circle in the snow. Have the children each create a pile of snowballs. Depending on the number in your group and the age of the children will depend on how many snowballs. With 3-5 year olds I would suggest they each make 2 or 3 each. Children 5 and up 3-5 snowballs. Draw a line in front of the circle for them to throw from. Again where you place this line will depend on the ages of the children. Have each child take a turn one at a time, throwing their snowball aiming to get it into and as close to the middle of the circle. Each child throws one snowball and then the next person goes, rotating until all the children have thrown all their snowballs. Whoever is closest to the middle of the circle wins.

Variation: Draw a circle in the snow for each child participating. Make sure the circles are all the same size and the ‘throw line’ is the same distance from each circle. Each child then throws their snowballs into their circle one at a time. This reduces wait time and allows each child to only compete with themselves, which is often more ideal with smaller children as they remain more engaged.

Explore with a Magnifying Glass

snow activities for kidsI find a magnifying glass to be a wonderful thing. It is very cool to see the world up close and even more so to make it a little bigger. Children often discover things they may not have before by just looking at something through a magnifying glass. In winter, let them explore by looking at snow, ice, tracks, and other natural items. Enhance this activity by getting them to look at different forms of ice and noticing the differences or similarities, like icicles or a sheet of ice over water (like a puddle). You can do this with snow (fresh undisturbed snow, compared to compact walked in snow) and other natural winter items.

If you want to take it one more level, get the children to draw what they saw through their magnifying glass on a piece of paper or journal. (Either have clipboards and pencils ready to do it outside or get them to do it once they return inside. If possible best to do it outside in the moment as they can not only see the item but their memory is the freshest).

Enjoying the snow can be more than the traditional snowmen, snow forts, skiing, toboganning, snow tubing, etc. Not that their is anything wrong with those activities but in some cases they are not always accessible. Expanding children’s horizons and understanding of winter in a unique way makes them love and appreciate this beautiful wonderous season. Plus there are minimal materials and equipment needed and are easy to do in your own backyard. These activities are great for adults too! so get out there and enjoy it with them.

snow activities for kids

What is your favorite snow activity and why? Share in the comments below.

Winter Adventures – Snow Tubing

Blog Winter Adventures Snow Tubing

You could win a Family 4 Pack for Snow Tubing at Calgary’s Acura Snow Tube Park courtesy of WinSport. Enter here

Snow Tubing is a fabulous outdoor winter activity that has taken many ski resorts by storm! This exhilarating concept of cruising down the snow covered hill on an inner tube is not only fun but a great family activity.

A secondary activity to the toboggan, snow tubing originated sometime back in the 1800’s. The concept of cruising down the hill in a tube slowly gained popularity over the years and really took off in the 1990’s when many ski hills decided to offer an alternate outdoor activity for the increased non skiers that were coming to the hill.

snow tubingAnd let me tell you snow tubing is an absolute rush! We had the pleasure of trying snow tubing for the first time at Winsport’s Acura Tube Park here in Calgary. Boasting 9 lanes and Western Canada’s largest tube park, it is quite different than hopping on the toboggan and zooming down the hill. First off, it is safer as the tube park is set up with lanes, so when you go down the hill you have your own wide space to zip through. Plus it is staff supervised and they moderate when people go, making sure the lane is clear before the next person zooms down.

Second, you can save those legs going up and down the hill with your tube each time because you ride the magic carpet to the top. This allows you to stop and enjoy the ride up as well.

snow tubingThird, the lanes are groomed and maintained. So though you may experience some dips and curves they are none of the bumps or bare spots that you might run into on the traditional toboggan hill. Easier on the tailbone and the rest of the body!

The kids were super excited to give it a try. Children have to be at least 42″ to ride by themselves but children 36″ or more can go if they ride with an adult. Chloe was a little trepidatious but totally wanted to go by herself regardless. Luke, as he does, just watched everyone else go first, getting the lay of the land, seeing what to expect, and was quite confident to go on his own once it was his turn.

snow tubingWhen it’s your turn the staff actually give you a push and launch you down the lane. Either giving you a spin or sending you straight – which they ask you what you’d prefer before they do. Being a little cautious myself I asked for straight the first time I went, but honestly you want to spin! (Just remember to wait a minute or so when you get to the bottom cause you might be a little dizzy). It is so much more fun. Spinning and zooming safely down the hill really is exhilarating. I screamed every time and loved it!

You can also go down in groups of up to 4, where each person is in their own tube but you are all holding onto another tube in your group. This can also be lots of fun and another way to share the experience.

snow tubingPasses for the park are quite reasonable, starting at 18.99 for youth and can be purchased in 2, 3 or 4 hour rides. You also have the ability to reload your cards at a reduced rate for future rides!

The only downside is even though the park has 9 lanes it can get quite busy at the top and hard to determine which line for which lane you are in. Since they are newly opened, they are still working out some of the kinks in the running of the park so that it is smooth and efficient. But they are doing a great job! the staff are so fun and friendly and most people are pretty understanding about being patient and waiting their turn.

Snow tubing is a fabulous alternative to tobogganing and I feel a bit safer as it’s more controlled (you also don’t need to bring any equipment). And with the new bylaws here in Calgary only allowing toboganning on 22 designated hills it provides another great option for kids and families. I also love that it’s local! There are other snow tube parks in the mountains outside of Calgary like Norquay, Nakiska and Lake Louise but if you don’t want the addition of the longer drive then this is perfect! So zip down to WinSport and check it out before the season ends.

Want to experience Snow Tubing at the Acura Snow Tube Park for yourself? Enter here to win a Family 4 Pack courtesy of WinSport. Contest closes March 5.

Building a Nature City – Outdoor Activities for Kids

outdoor sensory activitiesOne of the many benefits of outdoor nature activities is that they engage all five senses in children’s learning. Outdoor sensory activities like touching sticks, smelling the flowers, hearing the birds, seeing the grasshoppers, even tasting the dandelions!

Children (and adults) learn best and retain the most when they engage their senses. And an outdoor environment is one of the best places to do this! There is a plethora of sights, sounds and tactile experiences in nature, and a lot of times we are experiencing this without even thinking about it. Children just naturally gather sticks, rocks and flowers. They can’t help but be drawn to pick them up. How many times have you told your child to put that stick down or drop those rocks?

In this activity we are actually going to encourage children to pick up natural items and then take their exploration a bit further by creating a city with them.

Building a Nature City – An Outdoor Sensory Activityoutdoor sensory activities

You will need:

buckets

playdough (homemade or from the store)

flat bottom boxes

natural items (to be collected)

The first thing I did to get ready for this activity was make natural herbal playdough the day before. I found this recipe on The Imagination Tree and loved not only the idea of adding the herbs, which provide such a wonderful smell, but the use of real lemon juice in place of cream of tartar. Though I did this myself without the kids, you could easily make this into another activity with the kids (another great outdoor sensory activity) prior to building your nature city. Of course you can use regular playdough as well if you do not wish to make your own.outdoor sensory activities

Briefly explain what you are going to do – gather items, use the playdough, build city with items in your box. Then begin…

  1. outdoor sensory activitiesGive the child a bucket to hold their nature items in, then go out together and gather items. Encourage them to gather a variety of things and only pick up items that are already on the ground. We want to instill in them that pulling live leaves off or breaking branches can hurt the tree, or picking the flowers (with the exception of dandelions) can prevent them from growing again.
  2. Once they have gathered their items return to a spot outdoors where they can have a ‘work space.’ This should be a flat space, like the deck or concrete patio. You could even set up a large piece of cardboard or wood to create an area for them to work.
  3. Give the child a flat box bottom to build their city in. I searched around our house and found that gift boxes work well. You want one where the sides are not too high and the bottom is fairly sturdy. Ideally if you have one of those cardboard trays from your local garden center these work best.
  4. Let them take the amount of playdough they want to create the base of their city in their box. They use the playdough to stick their nature items in to build their city. (I left the bag of playdough there for the kids to take as they needed).
  5. Taking the natural items they collected have them build and create whatever city they have imagined and see the results.

outdoor sensory activitiesWhen I did this with my children they were super excited and engaged in ‘building’ for quite some time. Both were very focused on their cities and they modified and added to them as they went. Luke started out with something very simple but then saw Chloe make a tee pee and decided he needed one of his own. They were at it for a good 20 minutes or more and this was in addition to the time we had already spent collecting our natural items.

Both of their cities turned out very well and were quite creative and unique! They really enjoyed it, especially Luke who actually thanked me the next day for doing that with them because “I really enjoyed it,” he said. I thought that was pretty cool.

Sensory play and exploration is an important part of a child’s development as children learn through their environments. Sensory play stimulates the brain and helps them develop and refine the use of their senses, which is super important for all types of learning! This outdoor sensory activity allows kids to engage all of their senses by touching the natural items (are they rough, smooth, sticky), smelling them as they are working, seeing the different colors and breathing in that good old fresh air while they are creating! They’ll likely discover bugs while they’re out there or notice/ hear a bird fly by. They may even taste the playdough, (which was all natural with herbs) like my daughter did. We always were a family who likes the full experience.

Regardless of what your child’s experience with this activity they will definitely get something out of it. Whether it be the texture of the sticks, enjoying the sounds, they will be engaged, creative and using their imagination while reaping the benefits of a full sensory learning experience!

outdoor sensory activitiesAnd don’t forget to take pictures of their creations once they are done, as they will truly be works of art.

Next week we discover all the colors of nature through this easy do anywhere activity.

Seeking and Sorting – Outdoor Nature Activities for Kids

outdoor nature activities for kidsChildren naturally love to be outside. Running, jumping, playing, climbing are all elements of outdoor play. We should not underestimate the value of outdoor nature activities for kids  and playing outside as it has many benefits.

Children who spend more time outside learn to appreciate and care for nature. Their natural curiosity encourages them to explore and learn in ways that we may not even realize. They develop physical and gross motor skills, burn calories, get their Vitamin D and contribute to their aesthetic learning as well. Think of all the colors, sights and sounds out there engaging the senses – from bird song to the feeling of bark under their hands or mud squished through their fingers. These activities are all contributing to the development and growth of your child.

outdoor nature activities for kidsThough free unstructured play in the outdoors definitely has it’s place and benefit, you can enhance your child’s learning experience by doing simple and exploratory outdoor nature activities with them. Deepening their appreciation of nature, teaching them basic skills/ concepts as well as growing their curiosity. Outdoor nature activities for kids can introduce them to something they may not have thought of before or learn about something that they may just take for granted. For instance, the feeling of the bark of a tree – some are rough, some are smooth, while others have a powdery substance on them. Then this can lead them to asking why? why are the barks different? Or looking at and finding all the different colors there are in nature – there is not just green and brown, exploring a little through different activities can show them the many colors of nature and where to look for them.

outdoor nature activities for kidsOver the next 6 weeks, we will explore different outdoor nature activities for children, featuring one activity each week; their benefits and how easy they are to do. You do not need a lot of equipment, just curiosity and a sense of fun and exploration. Depending on the age of the children, will depend on how deep you take their exploration. I find the best is to start simple and then take cues from the child as to where to go with it next and how long to spend on it. Something that might keep one child engaged for 20 minutes, might only engage another for 2. That’s ok, length of time is not important – it is the experience and what they get out of it. Besides the child who is engaged for less time might find another activity of more interest to them and spend longer with that one.

Seeking and Sorting

Children naturally love to collect stuff. They often run outside and collect dandelions, rocks, leaves, etc. This activity uses this concept to start to grow their appreciation as well as some basic math and counting concepts. You can easily do this with a group of children as young as 2 years old or one on one.

  1. outdoor nature activities for kidsGather the children into a circle and show them what it is you want them to collect. Depending on the age of the kids I may ask them to find a specific number or simply to collect as many as they can. For instance, I hold up a dandelion and ask them what it is. If they do not know then I tell them.
  2. Once they have identified what it is I ask them to go and collect 3 of these and bring them back and put them into a pile in the middle. Once they have done that, I will move on to the next item, say a stick. I emphasize that they are only to take sticks from the ground, as we want the ones that are attached to keep growing. I will ask them to collect 4 and bring them back and place it in the pile. Depending on the age group will depend on how many items we go seeking. With preschoolers I usually choose 2-3 items.
  3. Once we have a great big pile, we may pretend it’s a campfire and sing a campfire song. Or I tell them one interesting fact about the items they’ve collected, like pine cones hold the seeds for the new trees.
  4. Then I will get them to sort them into 3 piles, all the dandelions in one, all the sticks in one and all the pine cones in another. Kids not only love to collect, they also love to sort! Sorting activities for children teaches them how to organize, how to determine alike and different as well as beginning math skills.

outdoor nature activities for kidsThe great thing about this activity is it provides the foundation for other activities that you can now use the items you’ve collected to do. Activities like Woodland People, Building a Nature City and Nature Collages all utilize the items you’ve collected and bring in a little creativity and imagination.

Try out this Seeking and Sorting Activity this week and share in the comments below how it went and what favorite things you found!

Next week we’ll build upon this activity by Building a Nature City, that uses what we’ve collected.

Celebrating Earth Day with Children through Outdoor Activities

earth day activities for childrenInstilling in children a love and appreciation of the outdoors, nature and the environment at a young age is something that they will take and incorporate throughout their lifetime; growing into the adults that will care for our planet. Earth Day is one of those events that not only brings focus to the importance of caring for our planet but is a great opportunity to involve kids. These Earth Day Activities for Children not only celebrate Earth Day, but are things that children can continue to do everyday.

Why do we celebrate Earth Day? I was asked this once by a small child (my own actually) who was inquisitively looking up at me with wonder in their eyes, waiting patiently for my answer. I paused, thinking how best to answer this child, a future ambassador of the planet, knowing how important it was that they not only understood what Earth Day was but why it was important for them to be part of it.

Earth Day, celebrated on April 22, is a worldwide event in over 193 countries to promote and support the protection of our environment and our planet. Even in 1970, when this event began, people recognized that we needed to protect and look after our environment in order for it to not only be sustainable, but healthy, for both the Earth and for us. This is why it is never too early to involve children in this annual event and teach them that it’s not only about celebrating one day, but about the actions that we should be taking all year long. The importance of looking after and caring for Earth.

Earth Day Activities for Children

Most kids naturally love to be outside. They are curious about the world around them and want to know more. Use these hands on experiences this Earth Day (and every other day) to deepen their appreciation for the natural world showing them the wonder and uniqueness of our environment.

Tree Rubbings

earth day activities for childrenAn easy activity all you need is plain white paper, some crayons and a tree.

  • Place paper against the bark of the tree (smaller children may need help holding the paper).
  • Gently rub crayon over the paper, the pattern of the bark will come through and create a unique design.
  • Cover as much of the paper as you like, then remove the paper from the bark and admire your design

You can also do this with leaves. Gather a number of different leaves then on a flat surface place the leaves with your paper over top. Rub the crayon over the leaf and see the imprint come through. You can do more than one leaf on a page and change your crayons to make them different colors!

Paint Pallet

There are so many different colors in nature. Grab some paint chips from your local hardware store and take them outside.earth day activities for children

  • Give a paint chip to the child
  • Go for a walk with them and find something in nature that matches the color on their paint chip.
  • Once found, don’t pick it! either just notice what it is, take a picture of it, or draw your own picture
  • Now choose a different color paint chip and let’s go again!

Nature Scavenger Hunt

Make a list of things to find outside and go on a hunt. Include things like leaves, sticks, pine cones. Have the children check them off as they find them. Remember, if it is alive and still growing we want it to stay that way, so don’t pick it.

For small children (ages 4 & under) make your list short 3-6 things and go with them on the hunt. For older children you can create a longer list and setting clear boundaries can send them out on their own or in small groups, to find the items. Regardless of their age, I always like to make sure I can see them at all times (and they can see me for safety).

Nature Collage

This is a fun one that kids can get really creative with.

  • Go on a nature walk
  • Have children gather items in nature. These can be things like small rocks, stick, leaves
  • Take the items home or to an area where you can sit down – flat area of grass, picnic table.
  • On a piece of construction paper, glue your nature items on and create a collage or picture

earth day activities for children Before you head out on your walk let children know that they only pick up things that are dead (not growing anymore), so leaves that have already fallen off the trees, or sticks that are on the ground. It is important to teach them one of the most important lessons in nature is to take only pictures, leave only footprints. This allows everything to flourish and grow and go through it’s natural cycle. Plus it leaves these beautiful things for others who come behind us to enjoy!

There are lots of outdoor activities you can do with children that are easy and fun! I recently discovered an idea about creating an outdoor mud pie kitchen! What a fabulous idea and so simple! Really, I think every child should have one, actually even adults would benefit. (You know I am going to make one right away…)

Teaching children to respect and appreciate our planet at an early age is an important value that they will carry into their adult lives. Not only should we participate in days such as Earth Day, it is important to do activities with kids in their daily lives that instill this love and respect for our planet.earth day activities for children

Break Free – Free March Break Activities for Kids in Calgary

free march break activitiesI always look forward to the March Break with my kids. It is a time of no alarms, no deadlines, and no rushing to be anywhere. It is a nice break from the regular routine, providing some opportunity for time around home as well as doing some fun activities.

For me, the March Break should be just that, a break. Not a week of jam packed activities that are supposed to be ‘fun’ that leave everyone more tired than when we began. I like to balance out the week and do a couple of unique activities we wouldn’t normally do with the rest of the week, more going with the flow and doing what we feel like.

Living in Calgary, there is no shortage of activities and places to go for kids. We have the zoo, the science center and a multitude of museums, which are all fantastic places to go, but I was on the hunt for places and activities that we could do for free. Because I also believe that March Break should not also leave you broke at the end of it.

I had to hunt a little bit, doing a little research and piece some things together but I finally compiled a list of 10 free march break activities in Calgary. And I have to say some of them are quite unique (and I did not know existed).

10 Free March Break Activities in Calgary

Chapters/ Indigo

Chapters and Indigo stores are offering free spring break activities for kids ages 3-12 years old. From March 21-25 each day has a different theme to explore such as Lego and Superheros. Call your local Chapters/ Indigo store early to reserve your spot as space is limited.

Inglewood Bird Sanctuary

free march break activitiesThe Inglewood Bird Sanctuary and Nature Center is 36 hectares of nature trails and home to 270 species of birds. It is a beautiful place to take the kids, explore the trails, spot birds of all kinds, and visit the nature center; complete with interpretive exhibits and information about local wildlife. Open Tues-Fri from 10 am – 4 pm.

Devonian Gardens

The Devonian Gardens is a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the downtown core of Calgary. This 1 hectare area contains 550 species of tropical palm trees along meandering walkways, children’s playground, water fountains, ponds teeming with fish and a “living wall.” Enjoy a leisurely stroll through the gardens, or sit on one of the many benches while watching the children play at the park.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a unique way to explore the city. Grab your phone and download the app at geocaching.com and go on your own treasure hunt. Using GPS, find other people’s caches hidden around the city. Bring a pocket of trinkets as when you find the cache you are to leave a token behind. Great places to try geocaching are 12 Mile Coulee, Noseworthy Park, and Fish Creek Park to name a few, but you may find some much closer to your home as well.free march break activities

Disc Golf

Disc golf, also known as frisbee golf, is a flying disc game where the aim is to get the frisbee into the wire basket in as few throws as possible. An outdoor activity, disc golf courses are available in several City of Calgary Parks (click here for list of parks).

Calgary Parks

There are lots of beautiful parks here in our city, such as Bowness, South Glenmore, Edworthy and Prairie Winds. All offer their unique history and flora to enjoy. Pack a picnic, go exploring or just stop at one of the many playgrounds.

ROAR Playpark

free march break activitiesLocated on the lower level of South Center mall, next to SportChek, is the ROAR Playpark. This free, unsupervised play space was created in partnership with the Calgary Zoo and has a zoo theme with lots of interactive components. There is a crawl-through tunnel, slide and climb-on creatures, iPad game stations, beautiful wall murals, and interactive educational sliding panels. This is a great spot to take the kids for imaginative play and a well deserved break for you, while you watch them unwind.

Chinese Cultural Center

Learn about the history of the Chinese community in Calgary as well as tour the Chinese Artifacts Museum. Entrance to the cultural center is free but for the museum and special events there is a small fee.

Calgary Public Library

The Calgary Public Library is always a great place to go with the kids. Not only do they have a plethora of books that kids can spend hours with, they also offer various programs, activities as well as free play areas. The Fish Creek Library boasts a giant chess game, as well as an interactive play area for kids on the upper level.

+15 Art Circuit

The +15 Art Circuit, presented by the City of Calgary Public Art Program, introduces you to 14 interesting pieces from the Civic Art Collection. Easily accessible through the +15 system, this free, self-guided tour is primarily indoors with just a few quick trips outside. You can download the free pdf guide to complete the circuit including map and descriptions of the pieces. This Art Circuit is one of the activities I was most excited to discover and can’t wait to do the tour. How unique!

I was very pleased with the number of free march break activities in Calgary. With a nice mix of indoor and outdoor, arts and active to choose from there certainly is something that everyone can enjoy. I can’t wait to explore a couple of these this week! (though I would love to do them all, it’s a break remember?) Which ones are you going to check out?

Sogo for a Run

Sogo SquirtsMy son completes his last lap around the designated loop in Fish Creek, completing 10 laps easily without losing breath or stamina. Nine weeks ago he could barely do 3 without being short of breath and collapsing on the ground. Endurance, which he has definitely built up over the past 10 weeks, is only one of 4 components in the Sogo Adventure Running Program for Youth.

A little tentative when we began, my son was unsure if he even wanted to participate in this program. “It’s running Mum, that’s boring.” But I suggested we go and check it out as there was more than that, not committing him one way or the other so he agreed.

After the first night watching the other kids zoom through the forest, jumping over obstacles and balancing clothes pegs, he was in and couldn’t wait to get started.

Sogo Adventure RunningSogo Adventure Running is an outdoor running program for youth ages 3-18, that runs each Spring and Fall, offering 4 levels of skill and age based programming. It is based on the Canadian Sport of Life Long Term Athlete Development model and is a great way to get kids out there and active!

It has four components, endurance, speed/power, strength/agility and navigation, 2 of which are done each week on a rotating basis. I was so impressed the first night with the obstacle course the kids did I wanted them to set up an adult program for me!

I loved the fact that my son was getting outside each week on a regular basis, rain or shine, and playing in the outdoors (as he spends far too much time on electronics). He was active, with his peers and really challenging himself. I also loved that we got to enjoy and explore different natural areas in Calgary, as the locations rotated every few weeks.

Sogo Adventure RunningHe looked so vibrant and alive after each class. We would often leave in a rush to get there; he would say he was tired and didn’t want to go, but once we got there he got right into it, literally glowing and happy afterwards.

I was also pleased to be part of Sogo Squirts (3-5 year olds) pilot program last spring with my younger son and daughter, as I am a strong believer that when you introduce things to kids at a young agethat it sticks with them. An active foundation is so important for children. This program had the same components but was set up through games and activities for their age. Both my younger children loved looking for the orange and white flags and punching their cards on their navigation course.

This unique program is part of the Foothills Wanderers Orienteering Club and with registration allows youth to participate in their Family Fun nights on Wednesdays, where kids get to put their skills to work!

I was so pleased that this low cost, active program (all you need is a pair of running shoes) was available to all my children and I look forward to participating again! It is an experience like no other!Sogo Adventure Running

For more information on Sogo and registration go to their website sogoadventurerunning.com

Winter Inside and Out

IMG_6907Often in winter it’s challenging to get active. Our bodies slow down, we just want to cozy up on the couch and watch movies. It can be a challenge in the cooler weather to not only get outside but to find fun and engaging winter activities. Both you and the kids start to experience cabin fever as you’ve done all the regular activities inside and out. Not only is everyone bouncing off the walls but you need some fresh ideas to enjoy the winter season. With Calgary winters often being long and chilly it is time to get creative!

For me I like to google it and see what’s out there for indoor and outdoor activities in the winter. Not only does it get my own creative juices flowing and I create activities of my own, I find some really cool ideas. These are just a few of winter activity ideas I recently found, but these are my favorites! So whether you’re inside or out, here are some unique indoor and outdoor activities for winter that will not only keep the kids occupied, but engage their imagination as well.

Outside

You’ve gone skiing, skating, tobogganing, and built many snowmen. There’s even a giant snowfort in your front yard that if it gets any bigger you will not be able to get to the front door. These outdoor activities will expand kids fun time outside and will definitely expand their horizons and create something new.

1-     A winter picnic. Pack sandwiches, cookies, and thermos of hot chocolate. Take a blanket and enjoy a picnic in our winter wonderland.

ice castles2-    Ice castles. Fill a variety of ice cream and yogurt containers with water; let them freeze overnight. Once they are frozen, take them out of the containers and build your castle. For a splash of color, put food coloring into the water before freezing.

3-    A scavenger hunt. Make a list of winter items, get the kids to help you with this beforehand, then go out and see how many you can find. A short list of 10 items is great, and learning about what there is in nature in winter.

4-    Snow mini-golf. Set up a mini golf course in your backyard using a variety of items from the house. Tramp down the snow to make paths, uneven surfaces and use things like hoola hoops, plastic rings, and balls to set up a course. Grab a putter and you’re ready to go.

animal track5-    Look for animal tracks. Winter is one of the best times to find tracks as the snow makes it easier to spot them. Go for a walk and bring a guide book to help the kids figure out what the track is (find one at the local library, find one online or purchase one like Animal Tracks of Alberta
on Amazon). As an option, bring your camera to take pictures of the tracks, so you can look at and identify them at home.

 

Inside

There are many indoor venues to go to in the winter to keep busy; the swimming pool, library, and local museum. At home it can be a bit more challenging, and after baking the 12th batch of cookies, and having multiple friends over, you need a little variety.

1-    Build a fort. Use couch cushions, blankets and cardboard boxes. Let the kids be creative as they build, let them knock it down a few times – and rebuild. Once completed they can enjoy playing in it. (Ensure it is safe and under adult supervision).

2-    Create a play. Have the kids write their own play, assign parts and do a performance. Kids can create the stage, costumes, props and present to friends and family.

IMG_69113-    Make an indoor snowman. This works great with a big group of kids; split them into 2 teams, give each team a roll of toilet paper. One team member is the model and the others wrap the model in tp to turn them into a snowman. Use construction paper to make the nose, eyes and other features.

4-    A puppet show. If you have puppets grab them, otherwise the kids can make their own. They can also make their own puppet theater and present to friends and family.

5-    Play hide and seek. Who says this is just an outdoor game? Set clear guidelines and boundaries about where to hide and let the game begin.

Do you have any great indoor or outdoor winter activities? Share your favorites below!