Winter nature study: Taking your homeschool outdoors
While most would not think of winter as a prime season to study nature, the winter months are the perfect time to kick off the best of the year's nature studies. You will find there are many things to observe and experience during the winter months.
Bundle up, keep track of the amount of time you spend outdoors, pack a thermos of hot cocoa and prepare to discover the unique gifts of winter.
Winter is our favorite time of year to feed and watch birds. In the south, winter allows us the opportunity to see different finches, songbirds, waterfowl and other birds that typically stay in northern climates. Our feathered friends can offer us a fun outdoor classroom. Birdwatching can also be done from the comfort of a warm home through your windows. A fun activity that engages children in observing birds and learning about science is Project Feeder Watch science module for homeschoolers. Project Feeder Watch includes resources for math, science, writing, geography, history and art.
Nature scavenger hunt
Enjoy a fun day looking for items on a nature scavenger hunt. First have some fun and create a list of items you might find outdoors during the winter months. You can collect your items into a basket for further study at home or try a digital scavenger hunt to work on photography skills. Take your list and bring along a camera to take a picture of the things you find.
If you are lucky enough to live in a place where it snows, you can study and examine the beauty of snowflakes. All you need is felt-covered cardboard — preferably black — and a magnifying glass. Place your felt-covered cardboard in the freezer for half an hour to prevent the snowflakes from melting too quickly. Allow the snowflakes to fall on your felt and study them with a magnifying glass. Fact: The average snowflake is made up of 180 billion molecules of water!
More winter learning fun
- Study your own winter weather, such as rain, ice, hail, snow, fog and compare to spring.
- Study the bark, leaves, needles, branches and moss on trees and the animals that live in, on or off of them.
- Winter nights are darker and longer — bundle up and observe the moon stages, constellations and scheduled meteor showers.
- Nature walks are the simplest way to explore the outdoors any time of day. Walk in your neighborhood or visit a state park.
If the weather does not permit you to venture outdoors, you can always opt for online nature studies. There are a number of sites that offer complete nature studies, one of our favorites for winter being the Five in a Row Digital Winter Nature Study. Our Wonderful World by Emery Lewis Howe is another rich nature study book available for free download online.
Whether indoors or outdoors, there are many options for joining your children on an exciting winter nature adventure.