Learning from nature: Winter Activities for Kids
Written by: Ernie Allison
Brace yourselves, winter is upon us. For parents, especially parents of homeschoolers, this can mean some very wound up children. If you live in a cold area, the kids will probably spend more time inside, which can lead to a lot of pent up energy.
Luckily there are a ton of activities that you can engage in with your kids that will not only keep them distracted from the cold, but will keep their minds working as well.
Some people think of winter as the time that most animals hole away and birds fly south. This isn’t completely true though. Not all birds are migratory, and the ones that are still around are still pretty active and would probably appreciate some food and water during the cold season when so much has frozen over.
Look up what birds frequent your area in the winter and find out what food will attract them. Then teach the kids about the birds and have them keep track of sightings at your bird feeder. This can be an exciting activity, and is relatively inexpensive. Keep in mind that you probably won’t need to put out as much feed as you would in the spring or summer since fewer birds will be around.
I wrote an article a while ago about what hummingbirds can teach you. You’d be surprised what you can learn by observing nature. Observation also encourages creativity, so this activity will be great for your kids!
Other lessons include:
- what different birds eat
- how species of birds differ from each other
- habits of different birds
- migration patterns
You can also draw comparisons between animals and humans in order to get them thinking about different behavior traits.
Watching the birds themselves can teach kids about the tendencies of animals. They can also learn patience, as bird watching is a “quiet” activity, not one where they are running around and getting instant gratification.
While Bird watching can be done from the comfort of the house, you shouldn’t let the snow scare you away from seeing wildlife in its natural habitat. Hiking in the snow can be a blast, provided you bundle everyone up. Start with short, easy hikes so your kids can get used to the physical activity in the inclement weather.
Snowshoeing is also a great winter pastime that I feel gets overlooked a lot. Both hiking and snowshoeing provide time for the family to do something together in a new environment. Whether you use it as a chance to catch up with each other, or an opportunity for introspection, a lot can be gained for some time in the wilderness.
Winter hiking affords your family a chance to see wild bird species they would never see at home. Snow makes everything look different, so the experience will be exciting and new, even if you’re in an area you’ve been before. It also comes with a built in second opportunity: snowball fights. Just make sure to stay safe!
If you want to get your kiddos outside, but don’t want to make a big venture, have them stay in your yard and embark on a project. Whether it’s a snow fort or a family of snow people, building will challenge their strategic senses, and give them something to do. When they’re done, all they’ll want is to curl up in a blanket with some cocoa.
What are your favorite ways to help your kids burn off energy and engage their minds during the winter?
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