We absolutely love nature study in our home, however as soon as the cold weather hits it seems to get a lot harder to keep it up. The kids (OK, usually I) don’t love being out in the fierce cold for too long. It also seems like there is just nothing to study in the winter because so much of it goes away in the colder months of the year. Nature does still live on through the winter, though! You just have to get a little more creative in how you look at it. Today I want to share with you 10 ways to study nature in the winter so you can stay motivated through the coldest months.
1. Keep a cloud chart. The clouds do not go away in the winter! Study the clouds and their patterns. Learn about the different types of clouds with your kids. Look for cloud shapes. You can even do this from your window if it is too cold!
2. Measure the precipitation. Measure the quantity of snow that you get. Another fun thing to do is to fill up a container with snow and bring it inside to examine. The kids can play in it, or you can see how much water it actually contains once it melts. Last week, we filled up a bowl full of snow and brought it inside. We left it on the kitchen counter to melt. I wanted to the kids to see how much water is actually in snow. Then we discussed why it looks like there is so much more than there actually is.
3. Examine snowflakes with a magnifying glass. Let the kids see what they look like up close. They are magical!
4. Study geology. Rocks can easily be found and studied in the winter months. Learn to identify common rocks in your area. Let your kids have a rock collection of their favorites and teach them the names of each type.
5. Learn what the winter night sky looks like and study the constellations. There are different constellations visible in the winter months and summer months. Learn the difference!
6. Study Evergreen trees and their pinecones. We have a lot of different types of evergreens on our property, so it is a fun things for us to do in the wintertime. We compared the different types of pinecones and the different types of needles. We sketched them in our notebooks, too.
7. The moon is always there in the winter, too. Do your kids know the phases of the moon? My kids surprised my husband one day with their discussion about the terms waxing and waning. He was not even sure what they were talking about. They were excited to teach him! Observe the moon and chart it with your kids. There are some neat constellation apps you can get to watch it and learn about it, too.
8. Most birds leave our area in the winter, but there are a few that stick around. Learn about the birds that stay through the winter. You can also learn about bird migration patterns.
9. If it is too cold to venture out, of you have a case of the winter blues, stay inside and use your field guides to study some new animal and plant species that you are not yet familiar with. Find videos and pictures online, too. Nature can be studied from inside! A couple of our favorites are North American Wildlife by Reader’s Digest and The Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Botsford Comstock.
10. We have a spot on our house where some amazing icicles form. Learn about icicles. How and why do they form? Measure them for a few days and see how they change.
Now it is your turn to share. How do you study nature in the winter?