This month we wanted to take a look at what games you can play in the garden when the weather is being typically British. If your grandkids or kids are anything like mine, then it can be difficult to get them to disconnect from the Matrix. Be it gaming or scrolling TikTok videos, leave them unchecked and they’ll sit on their iPads all day!
However, at this time of year, Mother Nature can be a little unpredictable. Wind, rain, snow, we could see any or all of them in one day. But we all know that even a little bit of fresh air each day is important for us and our children, so finding things to do when the weather is bad can be tricky. Getting them outside, even for an hour or so will help to improve health and wellbeing, and playing out in the garden is a great way of giving children a greater appreciation for nature and wildlife.
According to the World Health Organisation, we spend about 80-90% of our time stuck inside. That’s a really sad figure, and it has probably only increased during the pandemic. Combine that with the cost of living climbing, a desire to be more energy-efficient and the abundance of recent high winds and storms, it is no wonder that we are hibernating a little at the moment. Although, all these recent storms probably have the most to do with that.
We need fresh air though. Our children need fresh air. It helps us to feel energised and is the best tonic for a good night's sleep. It has real measurable physical health benefits, not to mention the fact that cold weather play will actually help to boost our immune systems rather (as many believe) lead to more colds. There’s a reason many of the health/government messages around Covid were telling us to meet outdoors and open windows to keep our homes, etc well ventilated!
If it is cold outside, then just get those warm/waterproof layers on. Multiple layers of lightweight clothing are the best solution to keeping you warm. Just don’t forget the hats and gloves though, especially for the kids. Their bodies lose heat faster than ours, so as a rule, I always make sure my kids have an extra layer or two on than what I will be warm in. Worst case, they can always take a layer off. Better to be too hot than too cold. And as the old Scandinavian saying goes; there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes!
Our favourite bad weather garden games
So, what is going to entice them off Fortnight, Roblox or whatever it is they play and into the garden? It needs to be something fun if you want to get them out and willingly participate. We looked at some of our favourite garden games last month but many of them you need good weather, so this month we thought it would be nice to follow that article up with a few suggestions of what you can play when the weather isn’t so good.
Our biggest piece of advice is to try and work with the weather rather than against it. If it’s raining, think about what games can you play to make the rain fun? If it’s windy, what can you do that’s safe and uses the wind? For example, you could fly a kite if the wind is right or hunt for worms when the rain is coming down. It’s often a change of mindset (in us more than our kids if we’re being honest) to see the bad weather as a fun challenge. What can we do with it rather than in spite of it?
What garden games can you play if it’s cold outside?
If it is just cold then there’s nothing stopping you. In fact, personally, I love nothing more than a crisp sunny winter's day. Just wrap the kids up warm and get them out in the garden. Ball games, etc are all possible and you’ll soon find yourself taking off a layer or two once you all warm up. When it comes to the garden, then our suggestion would be to try things like a treasure hunt or a good old fashioned game of tag:
Send them on a treasure hunt
Get wrapped up and go on an expedition around your garden. Make a list of 10 things you want the kids to find. Hide items such as sweets, small gifts or interesting old ‘treasure’ such as old keys or costume jewellery. If your garden is small, use the front garden, close to home if safe to do so. Create a map with clues to follow. If you want to make it a little more competitive, divide them up into teams and see who can tick everything off the list first.
You can play tag whatever the weather but it's a great way to get a group of kids running around when the temperature is low. Keep everyone moving by swapping who’s ‘it’ regularly, and create safe zones so they can catch their breath. If it snows try footprint tag whereby the kids can only step in the footprints others have made in the snow. If they step outside of a footprint, they are ‘it’.
Make a nature picture
Children of all ages can make some great pictures out of twigs, leaves, stones, etc. You can collaborate together to create a big masterpiece or challenge them to create a picture of something and then the rest of the family have to guess what it is. Or what about getting them an old container and making a 'mini garden' from found objects?
Play in or build a den
Build your own den or let them get set up in the playhouse. It could be a teepee-style or a tree fort if you have the space and trees. You could challenge older kids to create a shelter that would help them survive the cold or for the younger ones get them to build a mini beast hotel to keep them safe from the cold.
What garden games can you play if it’s raining?
Waterproofs are a must but getting outside in the garden even when it's raining can still be fun!
Go on a bug hunt
Just like the cold, if it is raining get the wellies and waterproofs out because a rainy day is perfect for looking for beasties such as worms as they move up to the surface. See how many they can find in the garden.
Follow the rain
Let them follow the rain when it falls on the ground. Where does it flow? Into puddles? Down the street? Into a drain? Can they channel it into different places or build a dam?
Throwing stones in puddles
If there are some good puddles, let the kids throw small stones into them to see who can make the biggest ripple. Drop a leaf or an old piece of wood into the puddle to make a target they have to land the stone on. Just be careful to pick a puddle away from any windows!
What garden games can you play if it's windy?
Let’s be honest, we seem to have had our fair share of the blustery stuff of late. And, OK, some of the storms are maybe a little too windy for garden play. However, today (as we write this) the sun is shining, and whilst the wind is up a little, it is safe for the kids to get out in the garden.
Create a wind target
If the wind is up, rather than trying to fight it, the best garden games to play are the ones that make use of it. For example, place a target such as a hula hoop or bucket on the ground and select found items such as leaves and feathers, and see who can get their items blown into the target area.
Play leaf chase
Another game my kids have always loved playing in the autumn is leaf chasing. Maple tree seeds (whilst not technically a leaf) are perfect for this game. Give them a spin and release when the wind picks up and just watch them fly. Challenge the kids to catch them when they come back down. Younger children love nothing more than picking up the leaves and throwing them about, just make sure you don’t throw them all into the neighbour's garden!
What garden games can you play if it’s snowing?
You don’t have to work too hard if it snows. This is the bad weather you can’t get them to come inside. Sledging and snowman building will entertain them until they can’t feel their fingers and toes. However, even if you don’t want to venture too far, there are some great games you can play in the back garden too.
Follow snow footprints
We all love to make footprints in the snow. You could make a maze of footprints or a trail for the kids to follow. You could set up a game and maybe incorporate a winter treasure hunt where they have to follow tracks left in the snow.
Make a tree snowstorm
If you have any trees in your garden, give them a gentle shake. Younger kids always love getting covered in snow!
Just remember it's supposed to be fun for all the family. If the kids get too wet or cold or they’re no longer having fun be prepared to go back inside. Playing outside is supposed to be fun, so there’s no point in staying outdoors if your child isn’t having a good time.
Focus on the sensory and make education fun
The best garden games to play when the weather is bad is ones that make the most of the conditions and stimulate their senses. Catching raindrops or throwing snow is a great wait to get them outside and have fun.
You could look at setting up some fun science experiments for them, such as building a mini rain garden as shown in the video below. Bad weather is also a perfect opportunity to teach your kids about mother nature. Explain why we get different weather conditions and how they help the planet.
While, Raising DaVinci have this great video with some interesting science activities that will definitely beat the winter blues:
If you need a little further inspiration then this fun video from Jimmy Ward has some fab garden game ideas for when the weather is bad:
If you have any suggestions for what garden games can you play when the weather is bad, then please drop them in our Write A Comment section below: