Winter brings about fun outdoor snow activities for all ages such as skiing or snowboarding, snow shoeing or skating, curling or ice hockey. However, these are all activities that must be done away from home and can get expensive. So, what to do with the kiddos on those long snow days when they can’t go to school? Or even just a relaxing weekend at home with the family? There are many great winter outdoor activities that are not only inexpensive, but can be done right in your own backyard or in and around the local neighborhood. Here is our list of those top five winter activities for the family.

Top 5 Winter Backyard Activities:

  1. Build The Ultimate Snow Fort

One of the more popular and more exciting winter activities involving the whole family is building snow tunnels and snow mazes, which lead to a grand snow fort. With thick, heavier snowfall, you can make snow “bricks” by packing snow into plastic bins or wastebaskets, then letting it air-harden before building. These bricks can then be built on and added to by stacking bricks upon bricks until creating the ultimate fort wall. To add a nice finishing touch to any snow fort, you can “paint” your creations with food coloring, pine cones, tree branches or other flourishes.

This is certainly a project that can last all winter long – or at least as long as the snow and cold temperatures will allow. Like the snow fort Colorado mom, Brandy Morgan, built with her two sons and dad. For their fort, they had just purchased brick-building equipment and wanted to try it out, Brandy says.

“With so much snow in back yard (that year), we were wanting to be out in the snow, all hours, she recalls. “It started out as a weekend at home that lead to each night we had time, adding more tunnels and walls. The brick builder was helpful, but mostly you just push the snow together, building your bricks. You learn about snow that way. Sometimes it would be too fluffy at times to stick for bricks. Sometimes too wet.”

While specific themes or concepts can come into play in fort building, Brandy says they didn’t really have any particular theme in mind.  Instead, they just started building up walls to about four feet, “so we could comfortably sit and be covered and protected from the wind.” Their fort covered a quarter length of the backside of their house, using the exterior of the house as one wall for the fort. She and the boys worked on it daily – after school, on snow days, and weekends – recalling the project lasting through several weeks of winter, taking on many shapes as walls would collapse and they would rebuild new, different walls.

For Brandy, building a snow fort with her boys meant spending family time in the great Colorado outdoors.

“We mostly just had fun family time. We created slides and tunnels, fort walls for snowball fights,” she says. “We would also see traces of little critters and it was fun trying to figure out if it was a cat, bunny, fox, or dog who visited our fort during the night!”

“It’s a great way to be outdoors, enjoying the snow and your family, plus the growing build (of the fort) in your own back yard is fun to share with visitors and even admire yourself,” Brandy says, recommending fort building as just one of many outdoor winter activities to enjoy with your kids.

  1. Make Snow Angels And Snowmen

snowman buildingAgain, with thick, heavy snowfall, this is another family favorite especially for younger children. Bundle up the little ones in warm, water proof outdoor clothing, have them lie down in the powdery snow, and wave their arms and legs to make snow angels. Or, try rolling balls of snow to build snowmen, snowwomen, snow children, and even snow animals to create an entire snow family. To add even more creativity and fun, you can leave the heads off your creations, so the kiddos can stand behind them and add their own faces. These make great photo memories for years to come.

  1. Snowball-throwing Contests

Building snowmen can lead right into rolling smaller balls of snow for neighborhood snowball fights or contests. Whether it’s in the backyard or at a local park, try aiming snowballs at tree trunks or fence posts to see who can hit the target the closest. You can also see who can roll the biggest snowball or successfully form a mound of snow into a shape other than the traditional snowball.

  1. Sledding

Sledding is another family-friendly winter activity that can be enjoyed either at home or at a local park. If your backyard is not big enough to allow for building snow hills to slide down, then heading out to the local park may be a better option, especially if the park has a hill or even a slight slope – the perfect element for sledding. This is an activity Brandy has also enjoyed with her boys, especially since they do live just a few blocks walk to a neighborhood park with amazing sledding hills.sledding

“We love walking down with our chosen sleds – we acquire a new one every season! We also live within in blocks of a fishing pond. That is always fun to see changes in the water/ice over the season, how high or low the river gets how the pond freezes from the edges in. Lots to learn being out in nature as the season changes after a big snow or a chill.

  1. Winter “Horseshoes”

Traditionally a summer game played while camping or at family BBQs, with some modifications, this can also be a fun winter activity for the kids on a snow day. Simply bury a wide-mouthed water bottle in the snow so that the mouth of the bottle is flush with the snow’s surface. Then, gather sticks or small stones as the “horseshoes” to toss into it from a few yards back. Other variations can be created with things around the house like a can, bowl, or bucket, and can be played in the backyard or at the park.

Any of these outdoor winter activities can be done either in your own back yard, at a local park, or even at the school playground. Your child’s favorite summer space will be transformed by snow and ice into a whole new world of winter wonderland exploration. To sum up all that Colorado’s great outdoors has to offer just out your own back door, Brandy says this: “Being from Florida, I wanted more from the seasons for my children growing up. So much to experience here in the outdoors with every season!! Definitely recommend parents get out in the snow with the kiddos! You feel like a kid again and they get to see a really fun side of you. And always so much they can learn.”