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Ideas: Schools/Groups

Information for Schools

The winter provides endless ways for one to become creative, inventive and adaptive in modifying the elements. However, it is often difficult for kids to just “get out and play”, especially in the winter when the daylight hours are shorter and there are already fewer safe places where kids can engage in unstructured activity. Using the winter outdoors as a theme, an educator or school volunteer can provide an opportunity for kids to experience some winter fun and physical activity.

All you need is protective clothing and adequate supervision. So get on those woolies, hike up your boots, catch some fresh air, go for a hike and make the great Canadian winter as much a part of your educational program as you can.

What to do? Here are some ideas:

Organize a Winter Walk to School Day

Winter is as good a time as any to walk to school. Don’t let cold, wind, snow or rain keep you from trekking to school or in your community. Dress properly and practice winter safety and you’re ready to go! Click here to find out more about this fun walking event and to register your school.

Winter Active School Announcements

Start every day during the winter months with a tip on how to be active in the winter. Use the ideas suggested in this resource to help students get active. As the winter progresses let the students think of more ideas that they can use for the announcements. Make it fun and challenge the students to be more active this winter by walking to school and playing in the snow.

Getting ready

Using a black board or flip chart, have the children brainstorm as many winter physical activities as possible that they could do outdoors at school, at home, or in their community. Once the list is complete, develop an equipment list and some safety considerations for each activity. You then might finish by heading out to the school yard to play one of the school yard activities the class has listed.

Frosty Walks

Grab a breath of fresh air by taking a walk around the school yard or surrounding community. To add some fun, ask your students to estimate the time it will take them to reach a particular destination and then compare their estimates to your actual time.

Winter Lookout

Make a questionnaire that asks students to record the number of items that they can see from various parts of the school yard. For example: how many windows can you see if you are standing by the slide? How many trees are on the playground? Etc. With a clipboard and pencil, students move about the school yard for about 15-20 minutes with a partner to answer the questionnaire. You may even ask groups to develop a question and answer of their own that was not on the list. Come back inside and compare and discuss the answers.

Variation: Provide students with a list of locations on the school yard and ask them to record what they can see when they are standing in that location. For example, what can you see if you stand by the swings? Once back in class the items can be charted for all to see. Children can then create a word search from the list, alphabetize the items or make a spelling list for next week’s lessons.

Snowball Weigh-In

Take your class on a winter walk around the playground with the only task being to create their very own snowball by the end of the walk. Back in the classroom, students will weigh and measure their snowballs and record this information. Next, place each snowball in its own dish in various areas of the classroom (e.g. under the radiator, by the window or on the teacher’s desk) and have students monitor the time it takes for the snowballs to melt in each location and record how much water each produces.

Team Activities

Arrange the students into groups of 5 or 6 and have them perform the following activities:

  1. Snow Pile-Each team has five minutes to build the highest snow pile.
  2. Spoon Balls – Each team is given a spoon and a snowball. One at a time, each member puts the snowball on the spoon and runs around a marker. Variation: (1) students continue taking turns for a specified amount of time instead of stopping after each student has gone once
  3. Dog Sled Race – Students (drivers) take turns being pulled by their teams (dogs) around a marked course on a toboggan.
  4. Fill it Up – Teams fill a bucket full of snow using a scoop. See which team can fill the bucket the fastest or see which team has the most snow in their bucket after a certain period of time.
  5. Heart Energizer – Divide your class into 4 teams. Set up a four corner box using cones for each corner and make the box approximately 10 metres squared. Assign each team to a cone. Place as many bean bags as there are players in the centre and place one hoop around each team’s cone. On the GO signal one player from each team begins the relay by running to the centre, picking up one bean bag, and returning it to their hoop. Each player takes their turn repeating the action. When all bags are gone from the centre players are then allowed to take one bag from another team’s hoop (each time they have their turn). Play as long as you wish and add up the bags in your hoop at the end.

Contributor: Pat Doyle is a retired elementary school teacher and Past President of CIRA Ontario. He has authored or co-authored ten resources with CIRA Ontario and is presently working on a three year Trillium Ontario funded programme called Active Playgrounds, administrating over 120 workshops across the province. He is the owner of Creative Playgrounds Incorporated, which designs, paints, and offers consulting services to schools and communities wishing to have games painted on their playground. Pat can be reached at

Winter Obstacle Course:

Create a winter obstacle course with an additional challenge: all the participants must go through it “attached” in some way. It can be as simple as holding hands or with belt loops clipped to a rope.

Have everyone hold a circle made of rope with both hands and get up as a group, without letting go of the rope.

The group could also try to move an object (such as a large ring) through a circle made of rope as quickly as possible.

Once good teamwork is established, the next level of challenge is to use the circle of rope as a “catching” tool. Have someone toss an object and the group tries to catch it in the circle. Make this even more fun and challenging by blindfolding the person who is throwing.

Bullring Golf

You need a metal ring, approximately 1 1/2″ – 2 ” in diameter (smaller than a golf ball). You also need as many strings as there are players. The length of the strings depends on the age and ability of the players. Tie one end of each string to the ring and have each player hold the other end of the string. From above, this should look like a small sun with rays. Put a golf ball on the ring. The group needs to work together to lift the ring and the ball off the ground and to move the ball to designated points (golf holes). These golf holes can be as big as a coffee can or the size of a coffee cup. They can also be short plastic plumbing pipes put in the grass. The group gently deposits the golf balls in or over these objects. If you think this is too easy, choose an area where there are trees, picnic tables and other objects in the way.

Winter time scavenger hunt

In small groups, send students on a scavenger hunt in the school yard with a very specific list to fill (one pinecone, two black rocks, a hat, etc.). You can always “plant” objects if necessary. When they come back, ask them to create an “art” object. Match the request to their interests: a dinosaur, a kitten and his mom, a cartoon character, etc. Each team can then explain their creations. Consider pairing older students with younger students, or students with adult helpers or teachers.

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