A Roundup of Seacoast Outdoor Education Programs


Getting kids outside in nature is so important, but can feel so hard right about now. I don’t think I was cut out for this NH winter weather when we moved here. But I’m working on it. Getting them dressed for the weather, braving the cold, and sticking it out long enough to become immersed in play is tricky. Its easy to put it off until “tomorrow” or “when the weather breaks” or on the “next snow day”. I know my kids, they want to go out NOW, it’s me that’s the stick in the mud! Kids’ activities in the winter are a necessity to get their energy out!

So, how do I get our “green time” in?

(my kids hear me saying “Green Time before Screen Time” in our house as we do our best to embrace screen free activities after school).

Consider one of the Seacoast Outdoor Education Programs

I try to sign my kids up for one “seasonal” class each winter – right now its ice skating, and some ski lessons. Honestly, this is mostly for my benefit – because it forces me to get into a regular habit of being outdoors with them. When left to my own devices, I am less likely to follow through! If you need motivation (or a kick) like I do – check out these nature-based outdoor programs in our area. You can sign up for weekly, daytime, after-school or week-long programs depending on your needs.

TimberNook – their Barrington NH location offers year-round programming for children starting at 18 months and summer camps in the fall in various locations like Madbury.

White Pine – based in York ME, they start Forest Kindergarten starting at 4 and offer after-school programming based on location. They also offer summer camps.

Tinkergarten – year-round programs in Portsmouth NH, offer a free trial class. 

Merrohawke – in the north shore MA area, they have preschool programming through middle school, as well as after-school sessions in Newbury MA

Coyote Club – this Seacoast outdoor education program offers year-round after school programing at various Seacoast schools in addition to Saturdays, teen programs and summer camps.

Great Bay Discovery Center – Offering vacation week programing (and even summer camps) at their reserve in Greenland, NH.

Seven Rivers Paddling – Serving the Newmarket community with after school adventure clubs that vary their focus seasonally from kayaking to hiking (and more).

*note: many of these programs offer scholarships! Be sure to inquire if cost is an issue.

Kids’ Outdoor Winter Activities don’t have to be scheduled or programmed! You can get outside any time you want!

When I know we need a chunk of outdoor time, we take a quick walk/hike/snow shoe on a local trail, often meeting up with some friends who are like-minded. I will pack some sleds in the trunk if we are near any hills! Keeping them moving is important when you’re out for any length of time, so they stay warm. Be adventurous and even hike in the White Mountains this winter! Don’t be afraid to get out, even if you have a baby in tow- Lindsey wrote a post on everything you need to know to get outside and hike with littles in the winter!

When we are just kicking around the house, I keep these outdoor winter activities for kids on hand for the backyard:

  • Blow Bubbles – not just for summer! Did you know that bubbles freeze? Make sure the temps are below 32F, and start with cold bubbles. Resist popping them!
  • Snow Painting – water down tempura paint and put into spray bottles. I swear this keeps half of our block happy – the kids make art in the snow, “decorate” the tips on the trees.
  • Climb something – the piles of snow from the plows amaze me too. My boys, however, are determined that they are Mount Everest and must climb to the top. Find a pile that is safely away from cars and go to it. When we snow blow our driveway, I try to focus my efforts into one pile for them!
  • Snow Kitchen – break out the beach toys, and any old kitchen utensil and create some cakes, pies, cookies and castles
  • Snow Forts – whether its for defense during a snowball fight or a magical place for make-believe, we all have some fond memories of forts. Consider decorating with colored fabric, boughs from the tree, pinecones, etc. I want to make an igloo (or at least a wall) with colored ice cubes this winter, here’s my inspiration:

Make an Ice Block Igloo

  • Track animals – my first grader is SO into this right now, he runs outside the morning after a fresh snow to do some detective work. Here’s a free printable  if you need one (I know I did)!
  • Feed the birds – make a pinecone bird feeder, hang it outside and wait quietly! How still can you be while you wait for the birds to come?Making pine cone bird feeders with kids
  • Pull a sled – get one with a rope (or fashion one on a toboggan). Take turns pulling friends or making “deliveries” to neighbors. This activity is “heavy work” for their bodies and targets the sensory system which is responsible for body awareness (its called proprioception).  These types of tasks are organizing and help with sensory regulation – shoveling is another great one!

Finally, (my kids are like their mother), we come in for hot cocoa as a reward. We deserve it!

What are your favorite outdoor winter activities for kids?