Looking for a way to get your kids outside more this winter? But what can they do other than stand out there and freeze? Well, bundle up and let’s talk about five simple activities to get them exploring and enjoying what winter has to offer.
Benefits of being outside in the winter
While staying in a nice cozy house all winter long might sound appealing, getting outside is really good for your mental and physical health. So, bundle up the kids and get moving again! Enjoy the fresh air, make new nature discoveries, give your kids some space, get away from screens, and soak up some vitamin D.
It doesn’t have to be for hours at a time, you can start small. But make an effort to get outside with your kids this winter season and really enjoy everything it has to offer. I promise, you will not be disappointed.
Five Simple Outdoor Winter Nature Activities for Kids
1. Go on a nature walk.
I said simple didn’t I? Sometimes getting outside this time of year is simply putting your coats on and going for a walk. Feeling the crisp air on your cheeks, smelling wood-burning smoke in the air, and watching the snow birds flit between the bare branches.
This is a great time to observe the trees and any animals you might see out and about. It’s also a great time to talk about how this season looks different from fall. What plants look dead and which ones look alive?
2. Hunt for tracks and scat
Winter is the perfect time to look for signs of animals in your area. Whether is deer tracks, bear scat, or bird feathers, go on a hunt for evidence that animals have left behind.
Look for tracks in the snow or mud, take pictures, or do a quick sketch so when you get home you can find out exactly what animal you are tracking.
You could also make a plaster cast of the animals footprints or record them in your nature journal.
3. Go on a Winter Scavenger Hunt
Print out your favorite winter scavenger hunt and let your kids go searching for specific winter nature items. To sweeten the deal, have a prize of hot chocolate to end all the fun.
I love this activity because it gets kids looking for specific objects and details in nature. A specific tree, or particular color, or a unique plant that peaks only in winter.
4. Set out birdseed then watch the birds
With bare trees and snow covering the ground, winter is a wonderful time to set out a little bird seed and watch all the birds that come to feed.
Observe the birds and learn their names. Notice any interesting behavior? Are there any bird-bullies in the mix? Do they grab and run, or stay and dine?
In the Winter when we set out seeds, we typically will see Juncos, Black Capped Chickadees, Scrub Jays, Sparrows, and Towhees. (And of course squirrels.)
5. Listen for Owls
Owls are typically quite active in the fall and winter months. So, if you are quiet, you can hear their mating calls and screeches to one another. Take a late evening walk or bundle up on the back porch, and listen for their distinctive hooting.
While they are nocturnal, there have been a few times we have spotted them sitting on branches in the middle the day. One time, we had a Great Horned Owl perch in a tree in our backyard for a nap! It was magnificent!
What are your favorite outdoor winter nature activities?
More Resources on Nature Study
- Printable Nature Sorting Mats
- Books to Get you Started on Nature Study
- Picture Books About Gardening
- Printable Garden Journal and Activity Pages
- Ways to Make Geology Fun for Kids
- 33 Ways to Help You Get Started on Nature Study
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