We are in the middle of the winter season, where the temperature drops and the temptation to hit the snooze button hard is extremely high.

Alongside the frigid Canadian weather, it can be difficult getting an entire family ready for an outdoor activity; just the thought is enough to break a sweat! This time of year, often sees many schools observing a winter break or a reading week, where students are off; free to do whatever… their parents allow them to do! Some reading weeks are an opportunity for a family trip to a warm locale, meeting Mickey Mouse or riding a lazy river on a tube around a lively waterpark. Other reading week plans are enjoyed closer to home. 

Time moves on (even though it often feels slower than the lazy river), and soon we’ll be in the middle of spring flowers. So, instead of giving in to the winter blues, why not turn cold weather time off into an opportunity for quality family time and quality memories? Let’s explore a variety of engaging and entertaining indoor and outdoor winter activities for families that will keep your crew happy and connected during these chilly months.

Grab a cozy blanket, put on your favourite pair of slippers, and let's start with a dive into the fun world of indoor family activities in winter!

Fun Things to do in the Winter – Indoors:

  1. Build a fort and have a movie night: Remember the days when you used to build pillow forts with your siblings? How would you recreate that magic with your own family now by building a fort using all the items that were off-limits as a kid, including blankets, pillows, rugs, footstools, and chairs? Take the time to plan your setup with your kids, allowing everyone to have a say. Everyone will have a dream fort in their mind; let them express their ideas. Once you have a fort plan in place, create a structure that can accommodate the whole crew safely and host board games or storytime. Once the fort is ready, grab some popcorn, put on a family-friendly movie, turn down the lights (glow-in-the-dark-stickers, activate!) and enjoy a cozy movie night together.
  2. Get creative with arts and crafts: Winter is the perfect time to indulge in arts and crafts activities. Set up a craft station with supplies like markers, paper, glue, and scissors. This is an ideal winter activity for kids. Ask each child what they would like to create. Show them options like cards, portraits, jewellery, DIY snow globes, LEGO action figures and so much more. Refer to Pinterest boards for ideas and inspiration. Encourage your family members to let their creativity flow by making whatever their hearts desire. These artistic efforts will not only keep everyone engaged but also create beautiful keepsakes or gifts.
  3. Have a family games night: Dust off those board games and gather your family (in the fort, perhaps!)  for a fun-filled game night. Set a designated evening each week where everyone can come together and enjoy some friendly competition. Let each person have a chance to choose the board game for the evening and allow them to MC (if possible)—from reading the rules, to helping set up, and choosing their colours first. Everyone gets a turn being the Games Master! From classic games like Monopoly and Scrabble to newer favourites like Ticket to Ride and Codenames, there is something for everyone. Let your crew vote on selecting a new board games to purchase for special occasions. Game nights not only provide quality bonding time but also enhance critical thinking and problem-solving skills.
  4. Cook and bake together: One of the best ways to bond as a family is over food. Working together to create something that can be enjoyed and shared is such a rewarding way to bond as a family. Great bonding memories often start around a kitchen island. Pick a recipe or two that everyone can participate in making. Whether it's baking cookies, whipping up a comforting soup, or trying out a new dessert recipe, the kitchen becomes a place of joy, laughter, and delicious aromas. This activity not only teaches valuable cooking skills but also encourages teamwork and creativity. Also, cooking with young kids can nurture developmental life skills such as math, ratios and vocabulary. Search online for a family friendly recipe, or consider a delivered-to-your-door packaged-to-prepare box , that can encourage family food-prep on an ongoing basis.
  5. Have an indoor picnic: Turn the winter weather into an opportunity for an indoor picnic activity. Lay out a picnic blanket, prepare some sandwiches, fruits, and snacks, and enjoy a picnic in your living room. Turn on a nature documentary and think about all the fun times you’ve had together in warmer weather. Go around in a circle and talk about your favourite places to picnic when the weather is warm. This change of scenery adds excitement to mealtime and encourages everyone to relax and enjoy their meal.
  6. Create a family book club: Reading is the perfect way to escape the winter blues and begin incredible adventures of the imagination. A family book club is a great way to pass the time, open up discussion, get to know each other and encourage critical thinking. Choose a book that appeals to everyone's interests and create a family book club; take turns choosing the book and encourage joint effort. Set aside time each week for a meaningful discussion about the book's plot, characters, and themes. This activity not only promotes literacy but also sparks thoughtful conversations and develops critical thinking skills.
  7. Organize a talent show: Unleash your family's hidden talents by organizing an indoor talent show. rope off a section of your house for a small stage or runway. Encourage each family member to showcase their unique abilities, whether it's singing, dancing, magic tricks, or even telling jokes. This fun and entertaining activity not only boosts confidence but also creates cherished memories that will be remembered for years to come. Don’t forget the video camera! Family talent shows can be a great winter activity for families, as they encourage children to be confident.

Now, grab your mitts and scarf (indoor knitting project, perhaps) and let's jot down some family-friendly activities for those beautiful winter days.

Fun Things to Do in the Winter – Outdoors:
  1.  Build a snow fort: There are many ways to build a snow fort, from digging into a high snow ditch or pile, to cutting up snow bricks to create a physical wall. If you are up to the challenge, you could even try building an igloo with your family; it can be an educational activity that teaches teamwork and problem-solving skills, as well. Use large blocks of the snow to create your walls, and finish by designing your comfy interior. The experience can create lasting memories of building the fort, and hanging out telling stories or drinking hot cocoa, inside.
  2. Try an outdoor activity: There are so many outdoor activities available to Canadians, like snowshoeing, skiing, sledding, or snowboarding. Consider strapping on some snowshoes and exploring what the winter has to offer with your family. Enjoy the calmness of snow-covered forests and listen to the crunch of the snow beneath your feet. Snowshoeing is a low-impact activity that allows you to appreciate nature's beauty. Another option would be to challenge yourself a bit more and take the family up to hit the slopes for some snowboarding or skiing. Whether you are a newbie or an expert, ski resorts cater to all skill levels, offering lessons and trails for every family member to enjoy. These winter sports can bring excitement and adventure to your reading week and your winter activities with the family while keeping the whole crew active with some exciting memories.
  3. Go ice skating: one of the most classic outdoor winter activities that the whole family can enjoy is ice skating. Whether you are a seasoned skater or a beginner, gliding across the ice can be a thrilling experience. Many cities set up outdoor ice rinks during the winter, providing the perfect opportunity for families to lace up their skates and hit the ice. Skating together encourages teamwork and play, making it a wonderful bonding experience for the entire family. If you want to play a round of hockey, be sure the location allows pucks and sticks; also inquire ahead about sleds on the ice for little ones. These can be useful and fun items to bring, but it depends on where you go! Another option is skating on wild ice or natural ice on rivers, lakes or in the mountains, when ice thickness allows it. The experience is profound and will surely be one not forgotten.
  4. Decorate a winter bird feeder: Winter may not be the season for birds, but many do stick around up in the great white north for the season. Help your feathered friends out during the cold winter months by purchasing, decorating and mounting a bird feeder with your family. Hang it in your backyard and watch as colourful birds come to feast on the seeds. It's a great way to teach kids about the importance of caring for wildlife and learning about the different types of birds that are seasonal to your specific area. Keep a pair of binoculars handy, for a bird watching activity on indoor days!
  5. Have a winter picnic: Pack your thermos of chicken noodle soup, some sandwiches, snacks and an extra insulated mug of hot chocolate, and plan a picnic with your family. Be sure to include hand warmers, a blanket, a small Bluetooth speaker, cozy clothes and maybe even a deck of UNO cards. The location possibilities are endless. Consider parking at your favourite lookout, popping your trunk and sitting inside for a perfect set up to snack. Having a picnic in your own backyard yard can be fun too; make snowmen, and snow angels all while taking quick warm-up breaks inside.
  6. Go ice fishing: If you're in an area with frozen lakes, consider trying ice fishing. Teach your family how to drill a hole in the ice, set up the fishing gear, and patiently wait for a catch. It's a unique and rewarding outdoor activity that everyone can participate in. Be sure to reach out to professionals if it is your first time, as unseasonably warm weather can make the ice more compromised and unfit for walking or driving on. Always take proper safety precautions before trying any new activity.
  7. Go winter camping: If you like to adventure overnight on your family winter activities, consider winter camping! Set up a cozy tent, build a bonfire, and enjoy the starry night. Be sure to pack warm sleeping bags and bring layers of clothing to stay comfortable during the low temperatures. Enjoy telling stories around the campfire with hot chocolate and gazing at the starry skies. If you’re lucky enough you may be in an area where you can capture the Northern Lights. If you can help it, don’t miss the opportunity to see this breathtaking natural occurrence. Plan to stay up late, and bring along a decent camera that can capture the dancing colours. Seeing them light up the night can be a once in a lifetime experience, so enjoy the time adventuring with your family, and catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights!

Winter break is the perfect time for families to bond and create cherished memories. While it may be tempting to hibernate indoors during the cold winter months, engaging in outdoor activities can be just as rewarding. From skiing and ice skating to board games and movie nights, there are so many ways to enjoy the cooler months as we wait for spring. Take advantage of the time to get close, learn more about each other and create memories to cherish for many years to come.