Winter outdoor play for early years and primary – 11 ideas

Posted on | Posted in Education

The value of outdoor play and learning for early years and primary age 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.


1. 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. 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

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.


5. Get moving

Keeping warm outside is as simple as running around having fun. Playground games and sports bring everyone together and form part of a healthy, active lifestyle for kids.


6. 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.


8. Snow play

There’s nothing more magical than a snow day for kids. To avoid the chaos, why not plan and organise some games for the snowy weather? 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 winter activity. 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.


11. Natural decorations

Collecting pinecones, acorns, leaves, twigs, berries, and other wintry bits 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.

The value of playing and learning outdoors for kids 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