Snowshoeing for PE


Looking for a fun outdoor physical activity when it's snowy outside that won't break the bank?

Skiing and snowboarding generally come to mind when someone talks about Winter sports. Nonetheless, with hard economic times, activities that require expensive lessons, equipment, and lift fees probably don't register high on the to do list. However, there is an alternative that the entire family can enjoy on a budget, snowshoeing.

First used over 6,000 years ago by ancient Asians, they are one of man's oldest inventions and rank alongside the wheel in importance for human progression. Snowshoes allowed migration into unchartered northern territories and have served as a vital tool throughout history. Modern man has taken snowshoes from an item of necessity to a source of entertainment.

Materials and designs may have changed over time, but the science behind snowshoes stays the same. By providing a greater surface area to displace a person's weight, snowshoes keep the body from sinking deep into the snow. This allows for a person to walk somewhat "on top" of the snow making the entire trip significantly easier and faster. Don't be fooled though, snowshoeing is quite an aerobic work out and will burn 45% more calories than walking or running at the same speed.

One of the best things about snowshoeing is very minimal equipment is required, keeping costs down and storage a breeze. Modern snowshoes are produced for people of all ages and sizes, which is why it's so important to purchase a shoe that will fit each member of the family properly. Snowshoes are rated by a person's body weight and by length of the shoe. The heavier a person is, the longer their snowshoes will need to be. Most modern snowshoes are made of aluminum tubes and allow for adjustment in personal shoe size so they can fit a range of shoe sizes and also allow for foot growth in children. Just remember to purchase a pair that is rated for a weight higher than the person wearing them, and don't forget to include the weight of their snow boots, clothing, and any backpacks or gear they may carry. Trekking poles are not necessary, but are recommended for long hikes and those that have steep slopes. They can also be quite helpful for younger children as they learn to balance while walking, and are fun for writing in the snow when taking a break.

While awkward at first, snowshoeing can be quite easy to master. Anyone who can walk well, can learn. Which means that even small children age three and older are typically capable of the balance and coordination needed to snowshoe. However, just like hiking, they will walk slower and for shorter distances than an adult or older child can manage. Snowshoeing can be the perfect Winter activity. With a one time cost for equipment, a family can get years of enjoyment and exercise out in the fresh air. Get geared up and go have some fun!

Where and How Much?

Most shoes are pretty inexpensive and can be purchased at major retail sports stores like REI, Dick's Sporting Goods, or Sports Authority, or online at retailers like Amazon and Land's End. Childrens shoes run between $25-$80, while adult shoes run between $100-$300. Trekking poles can be found for $15-$20 each. Remember that these are one time purchases and you won't need to pay a lift fee on top of buying equipment every time you want to use them. Rentals are even available at some resort locations.

Preparing for a Long Hike

  • Before stepping out to snowshoe, make sure you follow the list of preparations below:
  • Dress in layers. It might be cold to start out with, but you will start getting warm as you get your blood pumping.
  • Wear sweat wicking materials. The harder you exercise, the more you will sweat and your clothes will become wet and cold in the Winter air. This is especially important for your feet.
  • Remember gloves and a warm hat or earmuffs.
  • Don't forget to apply sunscreen and chap stick. Snow reflects sunlight and can cause a sunburn, while windy days can dry out your lips.
  • The most important thing to remember is food and water. You will need nourishment to fuel your body and keep it hydrated just like a hike on a hot Summer day.


You can do more than just walk in snowshoes! Try one of these fun ideas to get used to your new snowshoes, or just to have fun!

  • Do the Hokey Pokey.
  • Have an early Easter Egg or scavenger hunt. Some families have contests to see who could find the first tree with a two trunks, or the littlest pinecone, etc.
  • Play Follow the Leader.
  • Try a game of Hide and Seek.
  • Many traditional games can also be played on snowshoes. Try a game of kickball or have races to a finish line.

More for our members on field trips:

At HECOA, we LOVE field trips!  They are a great way to enhance your academic content and they really help kids to get hands-on experiences to extend the learner to much deeper levels.  We have articles as well as recorded webinars on field trips, and we have TWO amazing field trips scheduled at the national level for 2016 - one is to Yellowstone National Park in June 2016, and the other is to Washington D.C. in September!


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