Build a Quinzee

This quintessential winter activity is sure to get you moving! Get help from friends and adults to build this snowy structure and see what life is like under the snow! This activity will take several hours, and can be done over the course of several days. The effort required is worth the hours of backyard winter fun that can be enjoyed afterward!


  • Snow shovels
  • Snow pants, gloves, etc.


  1. Shovel a pile of snow into a mound at least 7 feet tall and large enough to fit one or two people.
  2. Shape the mound into a dome and allow it to settle and harden for at least 90 minutes.
  3. Hollow out the mound to create your shelter. Start with an entrance hole on the ground and hollow out until the walls are 1-2 feet thick. (Tip: Poke sticks of this length through the snow to measure how far to hollow out, then stop when you reach the tip of the stick on the inside of your quinzee).

Ask Yourself

  • How do animals such as mice, voles and weasels live under the snow? 

  • What is the subnivean zone? Why does it stay warm?

  • What other winter adaptations do animals have to stay warm in the winter?

Parent Notes

  • Ensure a parent or other adult assists with building the quinzee to ensure it is solid and constructed properly. Find more detailed instructions and illustrations here.

  • For an extra adventure, have a winter camp out in your backyard quinzee. Make sure you bring the hot chocolate!