Winter outdoor play for early years and primary – 11 ideas

Posted on | Posted in Education

We’re big advocates for the power of outdoor learning and play. The good news is that the value of outdoor play and learning for early years foundation stage (EYFS) children doesn’t stop when the summer ends. While there are more barriers to winter outdoor play, it is still worthwhile. When children are wrapped up warm and having fun outdoors, they don’t notice the cold.

Getting outdoors in the frost, snow and crisp winter weather promotes concentration and wellbeing. There are loads of ways to enjoy the outdoors and bring seasonality into lessons. See the 11 ideas below and get planning your winter outdoor play activities for early years and primary kids.

Winter activities for EYFS

Explore a variety of early years outdoor activities in the winter season.

1. Bird café

One fantastic outdoor early years activity for winter is a bird café. Winter is the best time to feed the birds as they need it most. Creating a bird café teaches kids the value of protecting wildlife along with making the feeders. Your bird café becomes somewhere for kids to visit, replenishing the food and reporting back about which birds they saw feeding.

2. Leaf collecting

Dry leaves are the starting point for all kinds of activities, including art projects and nature studies. Leaf collecting is a great outdoor play idea that engages children in the beauty of nature. Kids love running around collecting as many different leaves as they can find and comparing the colours and textures. You could invite them to find other bits like conkers and acorns too.

3. Print making

Encourage creativity and exploration through outdoor winter activities like print making. Winter gardens and playgrounds are filled with just as many textures as in summer. Collecting bark, sticks, stones, leaves and other things found outside provides a basis for making creative prints and pictures. Alternatively, you could create some potato prints to do outside.

4. Den building

What’s more exciting than building a den outdoors? Whether it’s with wood and branches or cardboard boxes, building a den together is a great team activity that gets kids problem-solving and learning to work with different materials.  It’s an ideal outdoor play idea for early years children that fosters both teamwork and creativity.


5. Get moving

Staying active in the winter is easy with early years outdoor activities that get kids moving. Keeping warm outside is as simple as running around and having fun. Playground games and sports bring everyone together and form part of a healthy, active lifestyle for kids.


6. Scavenger hunt

Challenge kids’ problem-solving skills with a winter outdoor play activity like a scavenger hunt. Giving groups simple clues to lead them on a hunt around the playground or outdoor classroom is a great team activity to get kids thinking. You could include prizes but it’s not essential. The fun of figuring out the clues as fast as possible will keep them engaged.

7. Frozen art

Filling small trays and disks with natural objects and pouring water on top creates beautiful frozen pictures. If it’s not cold enough for them to freeze solid overnight, put them in the freezer and get the kids to look at them in the light the next day. It’s the perfect outdoor early years activity for combining art and science.


8. Snow play

There’s nothing more magical than a snow day for kids, so make the most of it with fun and safe outdoor winter activities specifically planned with snow in mind. Planning and organising games in advance for snowy weather helps you avoid the chaos that can come with an unexpected snow day. Snowman-building competitions, snowy walks and tow sledging are fun and safe activities to do with groups of kids outdoors.

9. Nature trails

If you’re lucky enough to have a woodland or park nearby, going out on nature trails is the perfect outdoor winter activity for EYFS. Walking keeps everyone warm, and the kids can talk about the difference between the seasons and notice how everything has changed.


10. Chalk games

When the floor is dry, chalk games are always lots of fun. Kids love drawing pictures and writing words. You could even do short outdoor lessons using the floor as a canvas. This is an outdoor play idea that’s perfect for dry and crisp winter days but is also a great one to carry through to spring and summer too.

11. Natural decorations

Collecting pinecones, acorns, leaves, twigs, berries, and other wintry bits is a really fun winter activity, and the pieces you collect are perfect for crafting decorations. Be it for Christmas or an autumn display, kids will love to see the transformation made using paints, sprays, and other decorative methods on the objects they find.

Enhance early years outdoor activities with a school canopy

It’s clear that school environments and children’s learning can be enhanced by winter outdoor play and early years activities. These valuable outdoor learning activities are hugely beneficial for child development and should be integrated into the curriculum all year round.

We know that with unpredictable weather, outdoor learning and play can sometimes be limited. This is where a school canopy shines. It’s a versatile solution that helps you maximise the potential of your outdoor space, regardless of the season. Our canopies provide a sheltered environment that protect children from the elements, enabling them to explore, learn and connect with nature throughout the school year.

The benefits of a canopy for winter activities for EYFS:

  • Year-round learning, no matter the weather
  • Expanded curriculum with hands-on learning
  • Environmental awareness
  • Physical health and fresh air
  • Emotional well-being and reduced stress

Investing in a school canopy or outdoor classroom helps you invest in the well-being and educational development of your students. It provides a safe and sheltered space for them to discover the outdoors and makes outdoor play and learning a key part of their learning journey – no matter the weather.

The value of playing and learning outdoors for EYFS goes far beyond the lessons themselves and benefits kids throughout the week. That’s why incorporating winter outdoor play for early years and primary curriculums is so important.

We hope you found these winter outdoor play ideas useful. Find out more about outdoor classrooms or contact us on 01254 777 002 or