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Skating Fun for Little Ones

by Karen Ung

How to make skating fun for kids

Skating is a fun, inexpensive activity the whole family can enjoy. My daughter got her first pair of skates at 1.5 years old! While she didn’t skate a lot, she loved it. To make sure your first skating outings are a success, follow these tips:

    1. Bring a sled! When your little one needs a break, she can hop on the sled and have a fun ride. Seeing you and others skating will encourage her to try again. (Note: not all rinks allow sleds, so check before you go.)
      Big POG with a chair for support and Little POG in the sled

      Big POG towing Little POG on a sled at Bowness Lagoon
    2. Consider bob skates (double blades that attach to winter boots) or clip on skate supports (like skate training wheels, one brand is Skateez) for young first-time skaters. My oldest did fine with regular skates and a skating aid. My risk-averse younger daughter preferred bob skates until she was almost 5! Bob skates are very inexpensive and what I recommend for toddlers as tiny skates are expensive and usually not used many times before they are outgrown.
      Little POG (blue helmet) on bob skates at Winsport
    3. Bring a skating aid. Whether you bring a toddler chair, homemade skating aid, or store bought skating aid, your child will gain confidence from being able to skate on her own. Your back will thank you too (it’s no fun bending down and holding a small child up)! *Note: Most indoor rinks can loan skating aids; some rinks do not allow them.

      Skating aids (toddler chairs work well on outdoor rinks!)
    4. Always wear a helmet. You too, parents! A hockey helmet or snow helmet is best.
      Little POG in her Nutcase Snow Helmet at Hawreluk Park, Edmonton
      See my review here.
    5. Put risk-averse kids in hockey gear so falls don’t hurt. My youngest was afraid to fall, so we got some second hand ringette pants for her. She was a lot braver when she had padded pants. 
CCM Hockey Pants Available on Amazon (affiliate link).

6. Play tag. Parents and older children can skate backwards to give younger kids an advantage.

7. Play pass! As your child develops coordination, toss a stuffed animal and get your child to retrieve it, or get two kids to race to it. Stronger skaters can up their skills by kicking a ball/puck back and forth up the rink. We’ve even improvised with a chunk of ice when we didn’t have anything to play with.

Kicking the puck around with Dad and Uncle at Canmore Nordic Centre

8. Dress for the cold. Warm kids are happy kids! See my story: Keeping Kids Warm in Winter for tips on what to wear. Snow pants and mittens also provide protection when kids fall.

9. Allow time for snow play. When we go to outdoor skating rinks, about half the time is spent playing in the snow and half is spent on the rink. 

Playing in the snow at Hawreluk Park, Edmonton

10. Bring lots of snacks! Snacks are the other best part of skating (and hiking, biking, etc.). Things that are easy to eat with mittens on are best. Cookies and cocoa for the win!

Where to Skate

For beginners, a maintained indoor or outdoor rink is preferable to natural ice as the ice is smoother and easier to skate on. As skaters get better, they can graduate to natural ice. If you plan to skate on natural ice, please see my Pond and Lake Ice Safety Tips first.   We prefer outdoor skating rinks so we can combine skating with snow play and toboganning (and they’re free!). Check out Calgary’s Best Outdoor Skating Rinks for a rink near you! For places to skate in Canmore, Banff, and Lake Louise, see my Winter Activity Super Guide.   Where do you like to skate?  

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