Create a little more fun with family outdoors this New Year

By Ron Lazzer

Happy New Year everyone!

This is a time when we reflect on our past successes and struggles and set new and exciting goals for the year ahead. Losing weight is a common one but so is spending more time with family and loved ones. Let’s add more time outdoors to the list and we can come up with some fun and interesting things to do.

I’ll admit that many days in January can be cold and gray, but gather the family together, bundle up and go for a peaceful walk in nature. To keep it interesting for the kids you can play games like counting how many bird’s nests you see in the trees now that the leaves are gone. Or try to guess what animal left it’s footprints in the snow, what it was doing and where it was going. This gives children many benefits you may not have thought of. It teaches them to be aware of their surroundings, it lets them use critical thinking skills, and it allows them to see their relationship to the animal world.

For something a little more intensive try cross country skiing or snowshoeing. You don’t need a deep forest to do this. Your local park can be large enough to explore. To create a little more fun you can always find a hill and toboggan down. On bright winter days the hills will be filled with children enjoying the thrill of racing down a snowy hillside. Just make sure safety comes first. Stay away from obstacles and everyone will have a great time.

Very few activities say winter fun more than ice skating. There are several indoor rinks in Emery Village but the real fun comes from being outside. You can build your own ice rink at home by putting up a few boards, spraying water over the ground in layers and letting it freeze. It won’t be as smooth as a professionally maintained rink, but think of how much fun it would be to have a skating rink in your backyard. If you’re mind isn’t naturally thinking about picking up a Hockey stick at this point then you’re not a true Canadian...yet. There’s something inherently fun about organizing a Hockey game with local friends in your own backyard.

Brighten up the days and your yard with some visitors made of snow. Snowmen are so much fun to build. Take a snowball and start rolling it around until it’s big enough to be the bottom off the snowman. Roll another smaller one and lift it on top of the first one and then roll a smaller one still for the head to cap off your creation. Old buttons are perfect for the eyes, nose and smile. Keep him company with snow angels on each side or build a snow woman to keep him company when all the children have gone inside for the night.

Igloos, snow forts, snow castles, snowball fights, the list is almost infinite. You can fill a book with all the possibilities and many authors already have. If you want more ideas check out your local library for some books on the topic. Just don’t spend all day inside. Get out there and enjoy winter!