COVID-19 has affected all of us and has placed many restrictions around the activities we enjoy.  With my two children ages 4 and 1 we used to go to indoor playgrounds, have playdates and attend music classes weekly. The increased restrictions with COVID-19 has forced our family to start thinking of more COVID safe outdoor activities.

Prior to this year, we didn’t spend much time outside during the winter.  I’ve never been a fan of cold weather.   In order to enjoy outdoor winter activities, our family invested in getting warm winter gear. Being comfortable and warm makes outdoor play much more enjoyable. 

Outdoor Backyard Activities

  • Build snowmen and snow forts
  • Have a backyard fire (if safely able to do so) and roast marshmallows
  • Search and rescue of dinosaurs (or any plastic toy). Make a designated area and hide your child’s plastic dinosaurs in the snow. Tell your child that he or she will need to rescue these dinosaurs in the snow and provide them with a little shovel or a big spoon to help dig out the dinosaurs 
  • Enjoy a cup of hot chocolate after all of the backyard play

Outdoor Exploring Activities

  • Go for a family walk in your neighbourhood.  To keep the walk interesting, you can search for pinecones or leaves or allow your child to bring a stuffy for the walk
  • Go for hikes on local trails.  If you little one is too little to walk the trail consider using a baby carrier or hiking backpack carrier

Outdoor Community Activities

  • Some provinces are allowing recreational sites like skating rinks, toboggan hills and playgrounds to be open. If your province is open these are great activities

Indoor Activities at Home

  • Scavenger hunts with written clues.  This activity can involve the entire family. For example, I will write clues on a notecard “where does Madi sleep?” and my husband will read out the clue and then Madi will look for the next clue. I throw in a complicated clue or activity to keep my husband interested such as “make your favourite cocktail before proceeding to the next step.” Once they get through all of the clues, they will find the surprise which may be a treat or a toy that my child hasn’t used for a long time.
  • Rescuing favourite toys. I hide my child’s toys throughout the house and often tape them up so they look trapped.  At the end when all of them are rescued, we have a “party” with all of the toys. 
  • Indoor picnics. My kids love eating on the floor. We turn on music and put a huge blanket on the floor to prevent floor mess and make clean up easy. For something extra special, we do takeout and make sure to have a yummy dessert at the end
  • Dance parties. We have been having more dance parties during this pandemic than ever. To make it extra fun, use glow sticks or have a little disco light to turn on with the music. 
  • Baking. Our family has done more baking this year than we ever have. It has been so much fun (and messy!) baking with my daughter. There are lots of educational opportunities like counting and fine motor skills with cracking eggs, or measuring.  

This post was co-authored by Stephanie Liu, MD, MSc, CCFP, BHSc and Erin Manchuk, BScPharm, BCGP.