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Keyword: nature

by Michael Schneider, Baltimore County Recreation & Parks 

Hike our beautiful parks. Have a great time. Get fit and fresh air. Earn prizes. Such a deal!

Nature Quest is back at Baltimore County’s parks. Grab your Nature Quest passport and hike 13 trails throughout Baltimore County to find Nature Quest posts. Complete a rubbing of the plaque in your passport. Collect five rubbings and you’re on your way to free tickets to the Nature Quest Fest this fall. Collect nine, and you’ll earn Fest prizes.    

Pick up your passport at Benjamin Banneker ParkCromwell Valley Park, Oregon Ridge Park, Honeygo Run Regional Park, Maryland Center for Agriculture and Farm Park, Marshy Point ParkLake Roland Park, Red Run Stream Valley Trail or Fort Howard Park.  You can also get a passport at your local Wegmans grocery store or online at Nature Quest .

Your passport to outdoor fun is waiting.

photo of kids on an indoor playgroundLinda S. Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health

Physical activity is important to your child’s health year-round, but staying active during the winter can be challenging.  While outdoor activities are good for kids, sometimes it is just too cold, windy and wet to be outside for long. 

There are lots of ways to keep your children active indoors. Keep in mind your child and his or her interests:

·        Turn on the music and dance! Let your child pick the music, make up moves and have a dance party.

·        Make an indoor obstacle course. In a basement or activity room, make tunnels to climb through by draping blankets on chairs or a table, use pillows, cushions, and stools for things to climb over, and include stations for activities like jumping rope, jumping jacks or hula hooping.  When they have mastered the course, time them to see if they can do it faster.

·        Develop a game or a competition.  Throw rolled up socks at a target on the wall or on a door or into an indoor basketball hoop for points or have a competition about who can do the most jumping jacks. 

·        Get an active board game or play a videogame which involves physical activity. Twister is clearly active, but even games that require some movement like Guesstures or Footloose can help burn some energy.

·        Consider a gym or indoor pool membership for the winter if the facility is child friendly.

·        Visit community resources – walking around a museum or visiting a science center or the B&O Railroad Museum provides some activity and a change of scenery.

·        Visit a mall and play a variant on “I Spy” – who can spot ten blue things first or find a red flower in a window.

·        Find an indoor playground or go roller skating. If a fee is required, it may be worth it for an active outing on a cold, wet weekend day.

Also, check out our recent blog about outdoor play ideas.

For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit

photo of boys building snowmanBy Linda S. Grossman, M.D., Chief, Bureau of Clinical Services
Baltimore County Department of Health

Physical activity is important to your child’s health year-round but staying active during winter when the days are shorter and the temperatures colder can be challenging for adults and children alike.  Outdoor activities, except when exceptionally cold, continue to be good for children for a variety of reasons.

·        Contact with nature improves a child’s mental and physical health

·        Outdoor physical activity encourages use of a child’s imagination

·        Outdoor play helps foster collaborative play and the development of problem solving skills

·        The opportunity to spread infections is reduced since, in fresh air, children are not “rebreathing” the germs of the group

Generally children, when dressed appropriately, can safely play outdoors for at least limited periods of time anytime the windchill is above zero degrees Fahrenheit.  Under wet or windy conditions, the time a person can play comfortably outside is likely to be shorter.

The three layer approach to dressing seems to work best to stay warm.  This three layer approach should be accompanied by gloves or mittens to keep hands warm as well as a scarf and a hat (or a hood) to help protect the head and neck.  Boots are also a good idea if it is snowy or wet out.

Layer One:  An inner layer of fabric that will wick moisture away from the skin, such as polyester

Layer Two: Wool or fleece to provide some insulation

Layer Three:  A material that is wind and water repellent (nylon and Gore-Tex are good examples)

As your child is more active (and depending on the outdoor temperature and wind), he or she may need to unzip or even remove some of these layers to stay comfortable.

Some ideas for outdoor activity include:

A family walk where you make a game out of spotting different animals or decorations

Playing in the snow

Hide and Seek

Ice skating, sledding, skiing or snowboarding

For more ideas on keeping your children active this winter, visit

Revised September 26, 2016