1. School Age
  2. Nutrition & fitness
  3. Physical activity

Winter activities to keep children active

1-8 years

It’s easy to think of fun, active things to do with children when the sun is shining. It can be harder in winter. Here are some winter activities to get you going when it’s cold or wet.

Outdoor winter activities: free

There are plenty of free things you and your child can do around your home and neighbourhood:

  • Put on coats, hats and gloves and head outside. Show your child what the beach looks like in wild weather, or visit parks and gardens when the plants are all wet and glossy.
  • Take your child to see how the flow of rivers, creeks and streams changes after rain.
  • When it’s wet, dress up in gumboots and raincoats. Look for some big puddles to jump in. An umbrella can be fun to take along too. Your child might have fun opening and closing it a few times.
  • If it’s darker, let your child play with a torch when you go out for a walk.
  • Gather leaves, sticks, shells and stones from outside. You can take them inside and use them for sorting, painting or building.
  • On a windy day, you can try flying kites, chasing leaves – or helping them ‘fly’ – and trying to find places to hide from the wind outside.

Indoor winter activities: free and at home

If you can’t face the cold and wet, here are some ideas for winter activities you and your child can do inside at home:

  • Line up some empty plastic bottles inside and use an old pair of socks to play indoor ‘bowling’. Make it harder by adding some weight (like sand or water) inside the bottles. Your child could then also recycle the socks to play other games like soccer or tennis, or even puppet plays.
  • Encourage your child to throw a scarf up in the air and catch it on an arm, leg, knee or head. Or let your child kick a balloon up as high as possible and then use a fly swat or plastic bat to hit the balloon.
  • Move to music, make up dances and play dress-ups. Maybe your child could act out a new adventure based on a favourite superhero or cartoon character.
  • Set up an indoor treasure hunt. 
  • If you have space, use chairs, blankets and boxes to build a fort or set up an obstacle course.
  • Use an old mattress as an indoor trampoline and get your child to try funny running styles, or practise jumping, landing and tumbling.

Winter activities you need to pay for

As a special treat, your child might enjoy some of these paid activities:

  • Indoor play centres, swimming, trampolining, ice-skating and ten-pin bowling can keep your child active inside.
  • Traditional winter team sports like football, hockey, netball or rugby can be great for children when they’re big enough and want to play. Look for sports where the rules have been modified so they’re fun and safe for young children.
  • If it’s not too far or expensive, a trip to the snow can be great fun for snow play or tobogganing.

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Raising Children Network is supported by the Australian Government. Member organisations are the Parenting Research Centre and the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute with The Royal Children’s Hospital Centre for Community Child Health.

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