Winter can be a time of ho-hum doldrum homeschooling. We get so stuck in the books that we forget that just outside our windows is a vast world to be explored. But, in winter we often don’t want to go exploring do we? It’s just too cold. But don’t let the cold stop you. You can bundle up and spend just a little time every few weeks doing a winter nature study.
Winter Nature Study Scavenger Hunt Show & Tell
Instead of spending hours on a nature hike, try doing 30 minute time spans.
Make it a fun game to see what each child can discover in the a short time span, say, 30 minutes. Who knows what they’ll bring back. Perhaps it will be an abandoned birds nest, or a long icicle. Whatever it is have them write a short presentation and do a show and tell for a quick and simple winter nature study.
Then again, they might discover something that requires more study. Let it serve as a prompt for a research project or the spine of a winter unit study.
What if it’s just too cold to get outdoors? Sometimes it is. Especially the further north you live. But, you can do a bit of planning ahead. During the fall months stake a shepherds hook or two near a window. Hang a couple of bird feeders and fill them with seed, or make your own suet cakes using peanut butter, lard, and corn meal, and sunflower seed.
There are a variety of ways to document your Winter Nature Study Bird Observations.
- You’ll want a good quality bird watching field guide. Have students keep a nature journal letting them sketch the different birds that they see. As they see new species let them add to their journal. By the end of winter they’ll have a nice record of the different birds they’ve observed throughout the winter season. This one has space for logging observations, and adding their sketches.
- Extend the journal learning by utilizing some Nature Study of Birds Notebooking Pages to learn about migration patterns, bird anatomy and more.
- Document the species and quantity of each bird that comes to your feeders. Using a simple chart, you can document which birds are most prevalent in your area during the cold winter months. Take it a step further and let your kids become resident scientist as part of the Great Backyard Bird Count with Cornell University and the Audubon Society.
- Learn to Identify different species by the songs they sing. Utilize this Identiflyer Machine to listen to the different birds. Then when your kids hear them outside their windows, document which birds are dwelling nearby during the winter season.
Winter Nature Study Science Experiments
▬ Borax Crystal Star/Snowflake – Steve Spangler Science
Make beautiful snowflakes, or stars, with this awesome science experiment as your kids watch crystals form and take shape using simple ingredients.
▬ Science Experiment: Blubber Keeps Whales Warm – Frugal Fun for Boys
Learn why whales have a thick layer of blubber that keeps them warm in the icy waters of the arctic.
▬ Snowball Experiments – The OT Toolbox
Discover the rate of melt when snowballs are placed in different locations.
▬ Instant Ice: Winter Science Experiment for Kids – Raising Lifelong Learners
Winter Nature Study Books to Read
- Winter Nature Activities for Children by Irmgard Kustch
Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter by May T. Watts
Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival by Bernd Heinrich
- Discover Nature in Winter by Elizabeth Lawler
Don’t miss out on this
The Mitten Unit Study.
Learn about Botany in the Winter
The landscape of winter may seem to offer less of interest to the botanist than to other naturalists. But William Trelease shows in this work that woody plants can be identified to their dormant state, sometimes more easily than when they are green and flowering.
Plus, discover here 10 more Botany Resources
Discover More Winter Nature Study Ideas
▬ 50 Things to Study this Winter – Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
“Just because the weather outside is frightful, you can embrace the season and get your kids (and yourself) excited about winter and all the great things that are happening!”
▬ Tracks in the Snow – Embracing Destiny
“Although most people think of nature studies at warmer times of the year, winter is still a great time to get outside and learn.”
▬ Ice Observations – Our Journey Westward
“Ice covered plants are one of my most favorite things to observe in the winter. There’s just something so magical about ice encapsulating the world. “
▬ Evergreen & Pinecones, Nature Study Craft – Teach Beside Me
“Once we had studied and collected all of our samples, the kids drew them in their nature notebooks…and.”
What does your family enjoy doing in the winter months to study nature? I’d love for you to share your winter nature study ideas with me in the comments