3 Things Kids Worldwide Do in Winter
It’s winter. In most places, the temperature has plummeted, icicles hang from the roof like dragon teeth, the sidewalk looks and feels like a convenience store slushie, and some of the things you usually do with your kids just aren’t possible.
Sound familiar? In regions close to the Arctic circle, life can feel like that a lot of the year—with only a little daylight in midwinter to boot! But people living in Alaska, Russia, and Scandinavia have come up with creative ways to celebrate the cold. And one of them just might bring some winter joy to your corner of the world!
Alaska – Fur Rondy
There’s nothing like a carnival to make kids smile, no matter what time of year it is. The official name of Alaska’s biggest, oldest winter carnival is the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous, but locally it’s known as the Fur Rondy. Held in Alaska’s largest city, Anchorage, in late February and early March, it started in 1936 as a three-day chance for miners to blow off steam. Today, it’s a 10-day festival that features events like an outhouse race and a chance to outrun reindeer as well as serious dogsled racing. Fireworks, games, and arts and crafts markets round out this fun celebration of winter.
Russia – Ice Slides
In Moscow, Russia, the city builds ice slides for families to play on in public parks. The largest can be as tall as a three-story house! People ride down the slides, many of which are free, with a variety of sleds, including saucers and inflatable tubes.
Russia’s ice slides have a famous history as the precursors to roller coasters. As far back as the 1400s, Russians erected huge wooden slides in the winter and slicked them with ice and water. The slides eventually caught on with Russian royalty, then were built at world’s fairs in the 19th century. They helped inspire the development of the roller coaster, so much so that the words for roller coaster in French (montagne russe) and Spanish (montaña rusa) translate as “Russian mountain.”
Scandinavia – Friluftsliv
In Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, the concept of friluftsliv, made popular by the 19th-century writer Henrik Ibsen, is about embracing nature as a part of everyday life, whenever you can, wherever you can. But that doesn’t mean you have to buy ice axes, strap crampons onto your boots, and tackle a frozen winter peak as a family. Smaller doses of the outdoors—like a quick walk around the neighborhood or a trip to a favorite park or playground—can be just as revitalizing.
Try bundling your kids up for short trips outside to see how different the world is in the cold. Point out how you can see your breath when conditions are right. Keep an eye out for squirrels digging through snow and dirt to retrieve food buried in the fall. Watch a piece of ice reflecting afternoon sunlight. The natural world goes on in the winter, and you can be a part of it!
Try creating your own silly version of Fur Rondy by putting on a winter carnival in your backyard!
- play “Simon Says” with snow angels. (“Simon says, ‘Make a snow angel that looks like a duck!’”)
- set up a hot chocolate or popcorn ball stand.
- race the family dog across the yard.
- see who can make their winter hat the silliest by adding craft materials to it before heading outside.
- pick an animal for your kids to try to build out of snow.
- see who can drag a parent farthest on a sled.
Or come up with your own fun ideas!