20 Fun and Cheap Outdoor Winter Activities for Toddlers

As a new mom, I worried to no end about letting my little girl go outside in the freezing cold. Now, as a mom of two, I’ve collected quite a few outdoor winter activities for toddlers that allow my kids to get some fresh air and gives me a much-needed break.

How about you? Are you looking for ideas to pass time during the winter months? Are you ready to get outside and have some fun? Below are some of my favorite things to do with my toddler, plus a few best practice tips to follow when you’re playing in the cold. 

Winter Outdoor Activities for Toddlers -Little girl in snow suit

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1. Snow Painting

Hands-down one of the easiest, low-prep outdoor winter activities for toddlers you can try. 

Unleash the artist in your toddler with snow painting. 

The instructions are super simple. Are you ready for them? Mix 3-4 drops of food coloring with water in a condiment container (I like this). Take it outside, squeeze the bottle, and watch your toddler go to town. Your little one will be endlessly entertained for at least ten minutes.  

2. Building Snow Castles

outdoor activities for toddlers in winter- snow castles (1)
We never think to whip out the beach tools for snow! But it totally works

When you go to the beach, you always remember to bring your shovel, bucket, and other fun digging toys, right?

Why not do the same with snow? 

Creating snow castles is so much fun. It’s basically the same concept as building snowmen, except a little easier for your toddler to do. 

3. Make Snow Angels And Then…

This one’s a classic, but with a twist. You can direct your little one to make a snow angel (you might have to help them up if they’re wearing a bubbly snow suit). Then, try pouring warm water inside the imprint to melt the snow. This is just a fun experiment to show your toddler how warmer temperatures melt snow.  

4. Shovel Together

Does your little guy love helping you mow the lawn or vacuum with his mini-version? Well, Amazon also sells miniature snow shovels

This is a fun “game” to try when you’re shoving mountains of snow from your driveway. 

5. Scavenger Hunt

Winter Scavenger Hunt for Toddlers - Winter Activities for Toddlers  Free Printable
Save this free winter scavenger hunt for toddlers printable for your own adventure!

We actually love trekking through the woods more in the winter. No spiders. No ticks. Only fun! 

Turn your backyard into an adventure zone with a winter scavenger hunt. This is a great opportunity to teach your toddler new words and help them explore their senses. We look for easy winter nature items, like pinecones, icicles, and animal tracks in the snow (in our case, it was a herd of domestic goats that had escaped their outdoor space), 

I created the handy printable above to give you a few ideas! Feel free to use it!

6. Snowball Target Practice

Set up some cups and practice throwing snowballs at them to knock them down. This is a winter-themed toddler activity that’s fun and also helps improve hand-eye coordination. 

Realistically though, they might knock down two cups. Be prepared.

7. Laid-Back Sledding

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Sledding can be a little intimidating for a two-year-old. That’s why adding an older sibling to the mix or simply dragging their sled around can be a good compromise.

Depending on your toddler’s age, it might not be time to buy the toboggan. However, you can coax your kid onto a toddler-sized sled and lead him around the neighborhood.

Or, if there’s a sibling in the house, let the younger child ride in the front.

8. Garden Strolls

Did you know that many gardens are still open during the winter? Sometimes, we love strolling through the gardens just to look at the birds or stare at the icicles. 

If you don’t have a community garden nearby, try a nature trail. 

9. Snow Cookies

Instead of making snowmen, why not make snow cookies? This toddler winter activity is very simple.

Put some fresh snow on a sheet pan and use your favorite animal-shaped cookie cutters to make cookies.

10. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt

Things to do outside with toddlers in the winter - bear hunt (1)
Believe it or not, this is the dead of winter in North Carolina. Trekking through the woods “searching for bears” is one of our favorite past-times. The winter is the only time we can venture through the thick woods here. We find so many interesting things. Thankfully no bears though.

I sincerely love playing this game with my girls. If your toddler hasn’t heard the “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” song, play it now. It’s so fun!

My daughters and I love going outside and looking for signs of a bear. Then we act out all the steps of the song–sloshing through mud, “swimming” through rivers, etc.

11. Snowflake Catch Game

This is pretty simple, just let your toddler run around with a small glass or plastic jar, and let him chase falling snowflakes.

12. “Ice Skating” on Frozen Puddles

Your little one is probably still too young to hit the ice rink, but you can let him experience the thrill (terror?) of slippery surfaces with some assistance.

I would take my daughters with both hands and gently let them step on a frozen puddle. It’s best if you can either support all their weight from above or grip them firmly while crouching at their eye level. 

13. Snow Maze

If you live in the north or the midwest, you know how huge those snow drifts can get! For this game, you just need to shovel the snow into a path. The sides should be about 24-30 inches high. To you, it seems small, but to your toddler it looks like an arctic labyrinth.

14. Follow My Footsteps

Outdoor Toddler Play Ideas (1)
This game is a lot of fun. Simply direct your child to try to walk in your footsteps.

Make footprints in the snow and encourage your toddler to follow you. We got a lot of laughs out of this game because, mean mom that I am, I always tried to lengthen my strides to make it more difficult. 

15. Build Ice Structures

This takes a little before-hand prep, but it’s totally worth it! Grab some of that leftover food coloring and create a make a few colorful ice cubes. 

Then, when the weather is nice and frosty, take the ice cubes outside and stack them to make fun ice buildings. Just like blocks, this teaches toddlers hand-eye coordination and develops their fine motor skills. 

It also teaches patience. Because, inevitably, the silly blocks always slide around. 

16. Make a Bird House

Technically, most of this activity is indoors. We decorated a bird feeder when my daughter was two that has become a priceless heirloom in our house. Personally, I love these because they also serve as windchimes.

17. Winter Color Hunt 

Turn the snowy landscape into a canvas for learning colors. Find objects of different colors in the snow and encourage your toddlers to identify them.

Just another way to make learning fun!

18. Go to a Light Show

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Christmas lights are free entertainment for little kids!

If there’s a park nearby, chances are they’ll have some sort of light show set up. If not, ask around. There’s usually neighborhoods that love setting up spectacular light shows all in the name of friendly competition. 

In the picture above, we visited a light show at our local garden. However, one neighborhood near our house was notorious for their lights. The displays attracted people from all over! My daughters loved getting into the stroller and walking through, rather than driving. It’s just a different experience.

19. Visit a Greenhouse

Okay, are you done with winter? Take a break by visiting the local greenhouse. Greenhouses are usually open year-round, completely free, and most of the time, allow strollers. It’s also a fun opportunity to toddlers and preschoolers about colors and different plants. 

20. Horse-Drawn Carriage Rides

‘Tis the season for romantic carriage rides! If you live in or close to a bigger city, check out the local horse-drawn carriage rides. They’re slow-paced and usually great fun for small children. 

Toddler Safety Guidelines for Playing Outside During the Winter Season

Dressing Toddler for Cold Weather (1)
Bundling up in layers is best!

At first, letting your toddler play in the cold winter weather can be intimidating. You don’t want them to be uncomfortable or compromise their health.

But did you know that medical professionals say that outdoor play in the winter can actually boost their immune system?

Yup. The Pennsylvania Department of Health actually published an interesting piece suggesting that playing outside helps little kids develop a stronger autoimmune system, escape from lingering indoor bacteria, and allergens that irritate the upper respiratory system.

The trick is to dress appropriately and be safe. 

Here’s a couple safety guidelines to keep in mind when you let the kids outside in the winter:

  • Play in 20-30 minute intervals: Don’t exceed 30 minutes without giving your toddler a nice break to warm up inside. 
  • Use layers: Did you know that your baby can still get cold when he’s wearing a super thick coat? The trick is to layer your kids in threes. This allows the air between the layers to work as an insulator. Start with a soft cotton onesie or footies. Add the snowsuit or coat. Then, finish off with mittens and a hat. 
  • Watch the wind chill: Don’t go out when the wind chill is -15 degrees.
  • Stay dry: kids need dry clothes. They can dress and layers and still experience frost bite if their clothes are saturated.

What Are Your Favorite Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids?

Outdoor play is so important. It keeps your toddler stimulated and entertained, and you sane. These are just a few of the fun outdoor winter activities my kids love. I’d love to know yours! 

Fun Winter Outdoor Activities for Toddlers (1)

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