Cold temperatures and snow make it more of a challenge to get kids outside. Getting outside during the winter months can be well worth the effort. Remember to dress yourself in layers to set a good example for you students and children. Help your students learn that there is no such thing as bad weather (maybe rarely), only poor clothing choices. Layers allow you to regulate your temperature.
Besides layering and keeping your feet, hands, and head dry, create a basic backpack of items that may help in some of your discoveries: A notebook, pencils, a ruler, a magnifier, and a clear box. You may want to stick in a few extra pairs of dry gloves and whatever else might help you. Keep it simple, don’t weigh yourself down with too many supplies.
If being outside in the cold is not typically “your thing,” start out small and stay close to home-base. With each planned excursion, expand the activity in some way – length, topic, activity.
Here are some starters for you to try.
Winter nature walk ideas:
- Pretend to be different animals walking through the snow
- Build animals out of snow
- Shape walk
- Sound walk
- Paint the snow with spray bottles and food coloring
- Make a scavenger hunt list and take a photo of your findings with your phone, tablet, or camera.
Journal about your adventure!
It is fun to journal your findings outside. Did you see any tracks? Were they big or small? Can you draw a picture of what the track looked like? Did you find some winter bugs to “take a closer look?” Can you find some trees or plants that may provide winter foods for animals and birds? How many different sounds did you hear…was it natural or man-made? Can you write a poem or story about something that you found?
Have a discussion about animals in winter after your walk outside.
How do animals live outside in the winter? How do they walk? What do they eat? How do they find water/what do they drink? Where do they sleep? How do they stay warm? (Follow up with a study based on children’s answers/interest).
Trees in Winter
Go on a winter tree walk around the neighborhood or schoolyard to observe trees during the winter. If you can, scout your route ahead of time for trees with interesting shapes, bark, and trees without leaves and trees with needles. When you come upon an evergreen tree, ask your students to wonder about that tree. Why does the evergreen look different than that (point to one). Note the difference between evergreen trees with needles and the deciduous trees that lose their leaves during the winter.
Feel the different textures of the bark on different trees. This is a great time to have each student “adopt a tree” that they can observe throughout the year. Take a picture of each child with their tree, and let them make observations about their tree. Note which tree each child picked so they can return to visit their tree in the spring to observe the changes the seasons bring to their tree.
If you see downed limbs from both deciduous and evergreen trees, bring a few back to your classroom touch table for students to explore later. Smell them, scratch them, feel the difference in their bark, use magnifying glasses to look closer.
Looking for additional wintertime activities?
Try the KinderNature activity search and type in “winter” in the Search Activity Text box.
Let’s add books, too, from the KinderNature Book Search. Language and literacy are so important and KinderNature has built a searchable book list of nature-related topics. Try searching for the book category “seasons” and find some winter themed books.