Activities and Games


It has been said that a snowshoeing trip is often more about the journey than the destination. With kids, the key is to keep that "journey" interesting. Below are some easy activities to keep kids active and engaged in the snowshoeing adventure. Some of these activities you can do during a short break or while snowshoeing along the trail. Other activities are better suited to longer breaks on the way. Either way, they are sure to help create a memorable day!

 

Happy Children Playing Snowshoes

 

CHECK-IN SHAKE DOWN

About 10-15 minutes into the snowshoe walk, take a quick break for a "check-in shake down." This is a great way to focus kids' attention, assess their level of comfort, and get them energized.

Check In with the kids to gauge their temperature and/or comfort level and adjust layers as necessary. They might not be able to know for themselves what is "too cold" or "too warm." Try giving them a reference point that helps encourage their imagination. For example, instead of asking, "Are you too hot?" give them a choice, "How would you describe yourself? Too hot like a big furry dog on a hot summer day, just right, like cuddling up on the couch to read a book, or too cold like a snowman?" Then you can help them determine whether to add or subtract layers or not.

Once layers have been added/taken away, it's time for the Shake Down. Ask the kids to follow your lead. Start by shaking your right arm to the count of eight (out loud), then your left arm, then your right leg and then your left leg - each time counting out loud and shaking to the count of eight. Move back to your right arm but this time shake it and count out loud to a count of four. Repeat the action with each limb always returning to the right arm and cutting the number in half with each set. Once you get to shaking each limb once - just do a silly dance shaking and dancing your arms and legs all at once and calling out "one, one, one" over and over.

After the shake down, check-in again asking the kids about their temperature level. Be sure to pay attention to backpack straps or snowshoes that might need to be adjusted for comfort before starting out on the trail again.

If kids are getting antsy, unfocused, or straying a bit to far from the trail, this is a great way to corral the group and keep their spirits up.

 

ACTIVITY IDEAS

 

Happy Children Playing Snowshoes

 

Scavenger Hunt
Before leaving, have the kids make a list of 5-10 things they'd like to see or will probably see on their snowshoe trip. Each time they spot something during the outing that is on their list, they get to check off the item.

Make it fun and help them use their imaginations. It doesn't matter if they think of an animal or item that they probably won't see while snowshoeing. If a brontosaurus ends up on their list, chances are they won't see an actual brontosaurus, but they might see a cloud formation or a fallen tree that looks just like one!

If by the end of the day the child still has an unidentified item on the list - that's okay! Use it as a great discussion starter on the way home - ask the child he or she thinks they weren't able to spot duck-bill platypus. It can be a great learning moment or turn into an imaginative story-telling session (i.e. the platypus was jealous of our cool snowshoes so he decided to visit another forest).

Snowshoe Trivia
Trivia games are an activity that can involve the whole family, especially if your kids are a bit older.

Snowshoe Spelling
This is a quick and easy activity that works great with a fresh snowfall. Just find a patch of snow that hasn't been trampled on and have the kids spell out a word using their snowshoes. It could be their name or something from their spelling list. You can increase the difficulty by putting certain restrictions on the activity such as working as a team or requiring that all snowshoe prints make up a letter of the word (no "excess" prints allowed!).

Nature Walk
Announce that the snowshoe adventure of the day will be focused on nature. Bring along a nature "kit" equipped with binoculars, measuring tape, camera, notebook, etc. Structure the snowshoe walk around using each tool to learn or see something new about nature on the snowshoe walk. Have the kids journal or draw what they learned so that they can share it with each other or friends at school.

Animal Tracking
Snowshoe trips are great for animal tracking. When you do come across some animal tracks, ask the kids what sort of animal they thought might have made the tracks. Bring a guidebook to check for the right answer. This is also a great opportunity to help kids use their imaginations. Ask why they that that animal crossed the path or what it could have been doing.

Obstacle Course
An obstacle course is a perfect way to get kids focused back on snowshoeing after a lunch break. Bring along cones, hula hoops, balls, rings, etc. or use things found in nature to create the obstacle course (while still respecting the 7 Leave No Trace Principles). Set the course in a large area (or have the kids set it themselves). The possibilities are endless (relays, ball toss, in and out of cones, etc.), but try to use obstacle elements that encourage hand/eye coordination, teamwork, or agility on snowshoes.

Night Snowshoe
There is nothing quite like strapping on a pair of snowshoes and venturing out into a beautiful winter landscape at night. This can be a particularly exciting adventure with kids; just make sure to bring headlamps, snacks, and a thermos of warm beverages. Also try to snowshoe on an established trail for safety!

Snow Bowling
For a great lunch break activity, have the kids each create their own bowling "lane" complete with side gutters and five mini snowmen set at the end as "pins". The lane shouldn't be too long or else the snow bowl ball will lose momentum and not reach the "pins". Then have them create 2-3 snow bowling balls (basically gigantic snowballs) they can use to try and knock over the mini snowmen. If the kids are older, you can make it even more fun by increasing the difficulty. Try one-handed or blindfolded bowling. Or bowl on other people's lanes, trying to knock down other mini snowmen.

Other Activities
Snowshoeing can be great fun paired with other activities and games or activities that your kids might already know such as Freeze Tag, Red Light Green Light, Sharks and Minnows, sledding, snow fort building, etc. You can also incorporate it with more technical or fitness related skills like heart rate monitoring, geocaching, or map & compass navigation.

 

SNACK & FOOD IDEAS

 

Happy Children Playing Snowshoes

 

Snowman Pancakes
Use your favorite pancake recipe but instead of just making lots of circle pancakes, make a snowman! You'll want the batter on the thicker side (but not too thick that it won't cook well). Once the snowman is created, kids can decorate their own. Berries, Cheerios, or banana slices are great for shirt buttons, eyes, and noses. Yogurt or jam works great to "paint" on clothes and scrambled eggs can make a great hair-do. Because kids will get excited about all the decorating possibilities, make sure that they only decorate as much as they can finish eating!

Snowflake Cookies
The night before your snowshoe adventure, gather the family together for some cookie making! Use a snowflake cookie cutter and blue or white frosting to create sugar cookies as a snack for the outing. Not only is it a great way to involve the kids in "planning" for the adventure, the cookies will be a great snack while out snowshoeing and energy starts to run low.

Nut-Free Energy Bars
Energy bars are a nutritious and energizing snack for snowshoeing. If your kids have nut allergies, it might be difficult to find a good nut-free energy bar. 

Jell-O Snow
There is no better way to cheer up a kid who might have lost their excitement during a winter outing than with Jell-O Snow! We got this suggestion from a former ski instructor who has seen her share of snivels, tears, and pouting lips, and she says it works to lift the spirits every time and is remarkably easy.

First, find a patch of CLEAN snow (i.e. edible), sprinkle a pack of your favorite jell-o flavor over the snow, mix it up and enjoy! It is that easy. Try different flavors to create interesting color patterns. Just make sure to Leave No Trace and eat it all up before heading on down the trail.

Maple Syrup Snow Cones
Pack along real maple syrup and ice cream cones or the more traditional paper snow cone holders for everyone in the group. Making a the snow cone is easy; just find clean, edible snow, scoop it into the cone and drizzle maple syrup on top! There are innumerable options for flavorings including honey or juice concentrate from 100% fruit juice.

Another Option: Pack a backpacking stove. Heat up the maple syrup until it is bubbly and then pour it over the snow. When it hits the cold snow, the syrup will crystallize, transform to a taffy-like texture and then become rock hard. This is a traditional New England Maple Syrup recipe sometimes called "leather aprons" or "leather britches" for its chewy, leather-like consistency. It is a great way to teach kids about the history of maple syrup or to teach older kids how to use a backpacking stove safely. If you do go this route, consider skipping the cones and using a packable bowl instead.