For many of us, the winter doesn’t lend to a lot of time spent outside. The cold, the wet, the snow is difficult to spend a lot of time in, and it can feel like there really isn’t much nature to study during the dark and dreary winter months.
Even if you’re in a part of the world that will keep you indoors most of the winter, there are ways to soak up all that wintertime nature has to offer! In fact, you may be surprised by just how much there is to do and learn all through the winter.
Continuing with nature study through the winter is an excellent way to beat the winter blues, so here are some ideas for a winter full of nature study fun!
Create a Weather Calendar
Observing the weather and tracking it on a calendar or in a nature journal is perfect for when the weather is simply too harsh and cold to be outside. Have the kids write down what weather they observe, as well as what the meteorologist predicts. Track the sunrise and sunset, taking note of the days getting shorter and then gradually getting longer again. You can track the moon phases, the sunny days versus the cloudy days, how many inches of snow has fallen. There’s plenty of winter weather to track from the comfort of your warm and cozy home.
If you live in an area that has snow, take advantage of it! Make a snow gauge and track how many inches cover the ground. Have you ever used a macro lens on your iPhone before? It’s perfect for getting amazing shots of the details of a snowflake. Or you could study snowflakes under a microscope. Research how snow forms and what conditions are necessary for it to snow. Crafting snowflakes is a fun indoor activity or drawing a winter scene. Sometimes the best learning happens through free play, so bundle up and head outside! Build a quinzee, paint the snow, build a snowman, create a maze through the snow, organize a neighborhood snowball fight. Let the kids’ creativity lead the way!
Make a Wreath
Gather materials to put together a natural wreath. Find some winter berries, conifer sprigs, pinecones, and twigs. Using wire and ribbon, wrap a wreath ring with your nature finds. Add some little extras like bells or burlap. If you aren’t able to find anything outside, head on over to a craft store. There’s plenty to choose from! Another option for a temporary wreath is to make an ice wreath by placing the nature finds in a bundt pan, filling with water, and freezing. Once it is frozen, loosen the ice wreath from the pan by setting it in warm water. Hang on a tree outside and observe how it melts over time!
With the days being shorter, there’s plenty of opportunities to enjoy some stargazing without having to stay up late. Head outside after dinner and search out some constellations. Bring along some hot chocolate! You could even get up before the sun and note the changes in the location of the constellations from the night before. While you’re out, take a walk together. Notice how quiet wintertime is and do some research when you get home to discover why. Or simply enjoy the peaceful winter night.
There’s something about winter that draws me to poetry! There’s nothing quite like curling up under some blankets together and enjoying poetry by a fire. Here are a handful of poetry books to read:
Winter Poems by Barbara Rogasky
Winter Bees by Joyce Sidman
Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening by Robert Frost
A Bird in Winter by Stepanie Girel
Studying nature in the winter may not be as easy as it is during the warmer months, but it can be just as beneficial and fun! When we take the time to observe and study nature all through the winter, we’ll begin to see what a wonderland it truly is!