Brrrr – it’s cold outside!
Winter is in full swing. This might seem like a silly time to suggest taking a nature walk, but creation doesn’t stop singing just because the temperatures are cold! In fact, winter is an awesome time for viewing things that we might miss other times of the year.
Besides studying the obvious topics of snow, ice and frost, an entire world of nature excitement awaits this season. Bird’s nests, burrows, rocks, animal prints, and the intricacies of a tree or bush are all things that are much easier to observe during winter when leaves have fallen and plants have died. During a winter walk, challenge your children to find at least ten things that would be much harder to see or find during the summer months.
Winter is also the perfect time to observe conifers (evergreens) and compare them to deciduous trees which have lost their leaves. Your child can create comparison charts and drawings, or complete mini-dissections on conifer needles and cones.
Believe it or not, the ideas above only scratch the surface of exciting nature study opportunities during the winter! If you’re hoping for loads of more ideas for both outdoor and indoor nature (aka science) studies for this season, you might consider one or more of the following NaturExplorers studies: Snow and Ice, Coping with the Cold, Constant Conifers, Animal Signs, Beautiful Birds or Hard as a Rock. NaturExplorers studies were written with the 1st-8th grader in m ind, but include extensions for high school students, as well as fun ideas for preschoolers. Since so many customers asked, I recently released a winter study called Nature by the Season written specifically for preschoolers and kindergarteners.
But, why study nature?
So many homeschoolers are interested in the idea of nature study, but never take the time to actually incorporate it into their homeschool. Many of them feel like nature study is one of the “extras” that’s all too difficult to fit into the schedule of “important” lessons. Or, worse, some feel like nature study isn’t even worthy of being an “extra”.
From my experiences, nature study has actually opened the doors to many of our “important ” lessons! Science takes on a fresh perspective as we learn outdoors and becomes invigorating in the naturally hands-on atmosphere. Nature study covers biology, botany, earth and space sciences in great detail – and more times than you might imagine physical science and chemistry.
Think of nature study as a wonderful science lab – free of charge! Instead of reading in a boring textbook about the life cycle of a flower, for instance, children actually observe life cycles time and time again. These real-life experiences are powerful, yet gentle lessons that help children internalize a great wealth of knowledge.
Besides the subject of science, it’s super-easy to integrate art, writing, geography, and even history and math into nature study lessons. As children paint a tree in a nature journal, write a spontaneous poem about blue jays, sketch a quick map of a trail, or calculate measurements, other subjects seamlessly “happen”. In fact, one joyful afternoon of nature study has often allowed me to check off several completed subjects in my lesson plan book! (The NaturExplorers studies give you many creative ideas for integrating several subjects into nature walks.)
As icing on the cake, nature study allows for time spent together as a family, fresh air and exercise. And, above all for my family, taking time to enjoy God’s creation is a super way to draw us closer to the One who made it!
So, what are you waiting for? Go take a hike today!
Comments11 Responses to “Nature Study in the Winter”
Leave a comment, and if you'd like your own picture to show up next to your comments, go get a gravatar!