10 Montessori-inspired winter activities your kids will love

Winter with children can be tough, but the entire family will enjoy these activities.

10 Montessori-inspired winter activities your kids will love

Winter with children can be tough. Outside time is often cut short as it gets dark earlier and little hands get chilly in the cold. That coupled with cold and flu season can often mean lots of time cooped up inside.

While unstructured free time is a wonderful way to encourage children to exercise their creativity and discover their own unique interests, it's also nice to have a few special wintertime activities up your sleeve for those days that just seem to never end.

Try these Montessori-inspired winter activities to make all of that quality time together a little more enjoyable.

1. Bake bread together

Winter is a perfect time to experiment with baking, as it warms the whole house and fills the air with wonderful, cozy smells. Bread is especially fun as children marvel at how it rises and how just a few, simple ingredients can transform into something so delicious.

Baking bread is also a great choice because children of all ages can participate. The youngest child can help dump and mix pre-measured ingredients while older children can measure and knead. Try including a book about bread to make it even more memorable.

2. Make family picture cards

If you visited, or plan to visit, extended family during the winter holidays, try making some simple picture cards for the different family members you'll see.

Simply print and laminate a photo of each family member and collect them in a basket on a shelf in your child's room. Spend time looking at the photos and talking about each person. Not only will this help familiarize your child with family they don't often see, but it is a great opportunity for you to share stories about your family and your own childhood.

For an older child, try adding labels with each person's name and let them practice matching the names to the pictures. If you're a close-knit family, have them match their favorite foods or something more specific.

3. Write cards for family

Invite your child to help create special cards to send to family. You can send holiday cards, thank you cards for gifts received, or even Valentine's Day cards if the holiday season is too hectic.

Younger children can help decorate while older children can help write messages and address the envelopes.

4. Grate cinnamon or nutmeg

Give your child a mini grater and show them how to grate cinnamon or nutmeg into a little bowl. They will enjoy the wonderful aromas of freshly ground spices and become more familiar with some of the ingredients that flavor winter food.

Your child can then help sprinkle the spices on apple slices or transfer them to little jars to bring as host or hostess gifts to holiday gatherings. The perfect blend of sensory details.

5. Host a tea party

Not only is tea a warm and cozy beverage, but a tea party is also a wonderful time to practice how to set a table, how to serve others, and how to keep a conversation going.

This book shares ideas on how to make the most of tea time, but feel free to keep it as simple as you wish. Practice the etiquette with your child and then invite a loved one or friend over to join you and let your child practice being a host.

6. Explore ice

Winter is a fun time to do some basic science experiments with ice. If it's below freezing outside, help your child fill a pot of water and put it outside. Check on it in the morning to see if it froze. Experiment with different liquids and see what freezes at different temperatures. If you don't live somewhere cold, you can, of course, use the freezer instead!

7. Study hibernation

Many children know that bears hibernate, but they may not be aware that other animals like hedgehogs, snails and snakes do as well. Talk to your child about how you have a warm house to keep you cozy when it's cold outside, but animals use different strategies, like migration and hibernation, to stay warm. There are many great books on animals in the winter and hibernation that can add to your discussion.

8. Rake leaves and plow snow

While these tasks can seem like arduous chores to us, many young children will delight in helping, especially if given tools just their size. Most children will enjoy this the most if they are working alongside you, so you're not totally off the hook.

9. Go bird or animal watching

As the leaves fall off of the trees and bushes, it can be easier to spot animals as they're less hidden. Talk to your child about how to walk quietly so they don't scare the animals away and what animals and birds they might see. If it's snowy, keep an eye out for animal tracks as well. Write down a log of the animals you see together this winter. You can use drawing, words or photos to make this more fun.

10. Celebrate holidays around the world

So many cultures have different winter holidays. Check out a book from the library or see if your city has any open celebrations from other cultures and introduce your child to the many ways people around the world celebrate the season. Making different foods traditional to these holidays can be a fun way to bring them to life in your own home.

Winter days can seem long, but they can also be magical. It can be a great time to slow down together and notice the wonder of the changing seasons. Next time your kids are getting stir crazy and you're longing for the summer sun to return, try one of these activities to brighten up your day and make this winter a little more memorable.

Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

You might also like:

These challenges from Nike PLAYlist are exactly what my child needs to stay active

Plus a fall family bucket list to keep everyone moving all season long.

While it's hard to name anything that the pandemic hasn't affected, one thing that is constantly on my mind is how to keep my family active despite spending more time indoors. Normally, this time of year would be spent at dance and gymnastics lessons, meeting up with friends for games and field trips, and long afternoon playdates where we can all let off a little steam. Instead, we find ourselves inside more often than ever before—and facing down a long winter of a lot more of the same.

I started to search for an outlet that would get my girls moving safely while we social distance, but at first I didn't find a lot of solutions. Online videos either weren't terribly engaging for my active kids, or the messaging wasn't as positive around the power of movement as I would like. Then I found the Nike PLAYlist.

I always knew that Nike could get me moving, but I was so impressed to discover this simple resource for parents. PLAYlist is an episodic sports show on YouTube that's made for kids and designed to teach them the power of expressing themselves through movement. The enthusiastic kid hosts immediately captured my daughter's attention, and I love how the physical activity is organically incorporated in fun activities without ever being specifically called out as anything other than play. For example, this segment where the kids turn yoga into a game of Paper Scissors Rock? Totally genius. The challenges from #TheReplays even get my husband and me moving more when our daughter turns it into a friendly family competition. (Plus, I love the play-inspired sportswear made just for kids!)

My daughter loves the simple Shake Ups at the beginning of the episode and is usually hopping off the couch to jump, dance and play within seconds. One of her favorites is this Sock Flinger Shake Up activity from the Nike PLAYlist that's easy for me to get in on too. Even after we've put away the tablet, the show inspires her to create her own challenges throughout the day.

The best part? The episodes are all under 5 minutes, so they're easy to sprinkle throughout the day whenever we need to work out some wiggles (without adding a lot of screen time to our schedule).

Whether you're looking for simple alternatives to P.E. and sports or simply need fun ways to help your child burn off energy after a day of socially distanced school, Nike's PLAYlist is a fun, kid-friendly way to get everyone moving.

Need more movement inspiration for fall? Here are 5 ways my family is getting up and getting active this season:

1. Go apple picking.

Truly, it doesn't really feel like fall until we've picked our first apple. (Or had our first bite of apple cider donut!) Need to burn off that extra cinnamon-sugar energy? Declare a quick relay race up the orchard aisle—winner gets first to pick of apples at home.

To wear: These Printed Training Tights are perfect for when even a casual walk turns into a race (and they help my daughter scurry up a branch for the big apples).

2. Visit a pumpkin patch.

We love to pick up a few locally grown pumpkins to decorate or cook with each year. Challenge your child to a "strongman" contest and see who can lift the heaviest pumpkin while you're there.

To wear: Suit up your little one in comfort with this Baby Full Zip Coverall so you're ready for whatever adventures the day brings.

3. Have a nature scavenger hunt.

Scavenger hunts are one of my favorite ways to keep my daughter preoccupied all year long. We love to get outside and search for acorns, leaves and pinecones as part of our homeschool, but it's also just a great way to get her exercising those gross motor skills whenever the wiggles start to build up.

To wear: It's not truly fall until you break out a hoodie. This cozy Therma Elite Kids Hoodie features a mesh overlay to release heat while your child plays.

4. Have a touch-football game.

Tip for parents with very little kids: It doesn't have to last as long as a real football game. 😂 In fact, staging our own mini-games is one of our favorite ways to get everyone up and moving in between quarters during Sunday football, and I promise we all sleep better that night.

To wear: From impromptu games of tag to running through our favorite trails, these kids' Nike Air Zoom Speed running shoes are made to cover ground all season long.

5. Create an indoor obstacle course.

Pretending the floor is lava was just the beginning. See how elaborate your personal course can get, from jumping on the couch to rolling under the coffee table to hopping down the hallway on one foot.

To wear: These ready-for-any-activity Dri-FIT Tempo Shorts are perfect for crawling, hopping and racing—and cuddling up when it's time to rest.

This article was sponsored by Nike. Thank you for supporting the brands that supporting Motherly and mamas.

Our Partners

Here are the self-care items you desperately need right now

Self care is not enough, but with the news, the ongoing pandemic and just life, it can't hurt to self-pamper to make the world feel less heavy.


This week has felt like a month. Between the debate, Chrissy Teigen's heartbreaking news and now with President Trump tweeting that he and Melania have tested positive for COVID-19 it's hard to not feel overwhelmed. On top of that, we are still in a never ending historical pandemic, people are still losing their jobs and moms, well, we are at the end of our rope.

Yes, motherhood is political, and no, self care is not enough to fix burn out, but if all you need right now is to turn off your phone and cozy up to a soft blanket because you've had enough, I hear you. Hard same. So we picked some stuff for you to buy and pamper yourself. No regrets, we all deserve some self-love right now.

Here are things that will make you feel hugged:

Keep reading Show less

Every week, we stock the Motherly Shop with innovative and fresh products from brands we feel good about. We want to be certain you don't miss anything, so to keep you in the loop, we're providing a cheat sheet.

So, what's new this week?

Happiest Baby: Baby sleep solutions designed by the experts

Created by renowned pediatrician, baby sleep expert and (as some might say) lifesaver Dr. Harvey Karp, Happiest Baby has been helping new parents understand and nurture their infants for close to two decades. Building on the success of his celebrated books and video The Happiest Baby on the Block and The Happiest Toddler on the Block he's developed groundbreaking, science-based product solutions that conquer a new parent's top stressor—exhaustion.

WSEL Bags: Dad-designed diaper bags that think of everything

WSEL stands for work smart, enjoy life—an ethos we couldn't agree with more. Founded by a stay at home dad who struggled to find a diaper bag that he not only wanted to use, but one that would last far beyond the baby years, these premium, adventure-ready backpacks are ideal for everything from errands to week-long getaways.

Codex Beauty: Exceptionally effective sustainable skin care

Codex Beauty's line of sustainable plant-based skin care blends the science of plant biology with biotech innovations, to create clinically proven, state-of-the-art products for all skin types. They're all vegan, EWG and Leaping Bunny verified and created in collaboration with Herbal Scientist Tracy Ryan who uses concepts dating back to the 8th century leveraging plants like sea buckthorn and calendula flower. Not only are we totally crushing on the innovative formulas that are in the packaging but we're in love with the sustainable sugarcane-derived tubes as well.

Not sure where to start? Here's what we're adding to our cart:

Keep reading Show less