Don’t let the winter weather derail your learning and outdoor exploring. Here are 6 winter nature studies for the Charlotte Mason Homeschool that are perfect for this time of year!
As you know, Charlotte Mason homeschooling has a focus on nature walks during all seasons of the year. Once a week you and your child should be outside enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature and just walking about. Not necessarily talking about what you see during this time, but viewing and visualizing the beauty of the Earth.
While this can be easier when the weather is nice, that shouldn’t stop you and your children from still getting out and exploring nature during the winter months. Plan ahead and understand that the weather will be cold, but with the right outdoor gear and positive outlook, the cold weather isn’t anything but a number. (maybe a low number…but still, just a number)
Without the warm weather enticing us to get outside, nature study often falls to the wayside. It’s understandable when the air is bitter cold and nature seems to have gone to sleep. But if we put off nature study until the weather turns, we’ll be missing out on so much!
Even your quiet, snow-laden backyard is teeming with life and learning opportunities. On the super cold days, there’s still plenty to do and learn inside your warm and cozy home.
Read Winter Books
Is there anything better than snuggling up under a warm blanket, sipping some steaming hot chocolate, and reading the day away together? This definitely makes my short list of favorite winter things to do. However reading happens in your home, winter is an excellent time to read a few extra books. Here are some fun winter-themed books to get your winter reading collection started:
Animals in Winter by Henrietta Bancroft
All About Animals in Winter by Martha E. H. Rustad
Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner
Best in Snow by April Pulley Sayre
Winter Bees by Joyce Sidman
Study Winter Subjects
Winter is unique. There are aspects of this time of year that we simply won’t come across in the warmer months. Don’t miss out on these topics that come alive in the wintertime:
Survival (How the early pioneers survived the winter or how you would survive in the cold.)
Grab a topic and spend as much time as you feel led to on the subject. Read books, research online, observe, and journal.
Animals in WinterAll About Animals in WinterOver and Under the SnowBest in SnowWinter BeesCoping with the Cold Nature StudyConstant ConifersSnow and IceWatercolor JournalWatercolor PencilsNature Study BackpackBuild a Bird Feeder Kit
Go on Winter Outings
Going outside in the winter isn’t always ideal, but when possible, there’s plenty to do out there! Hikes are a lot of fun in the winter. Even a familiar trail will have a whole new look to it. Take some time to listen to your surroundings. In the summertime, the woods can be surprisingly loud. But in the winter, it can be surprisingly quiet.
Hike to your favorite outdoor area and have the children sketch what they see
Combine two activities of a nature walk and drawing and turn it into one awesome winter nature study activity. Plan out a hike and once there, sit and have them draw anything and everything that they see. Make certain they each have their own sketchpad to doodle away.
Utilize the beauty that nature has to offer and try out some of these winter nature studies! Don’t miss out on some truly amazing activities that you and your children are certain to love just because the temperatures may be a little cold. Let the love of nature and learning warm you up instead!
Another benefit to a snow-laden hike is being able to see animal tracks easily. You may even be able to spot the tiny tracks of a bug across the top of the snow.
Use a Nature Notebook and have your child draw animal prints
Walking around in the snow during the winter, you’re certain to see animals prints and tracks along the way. Having your children use a nature notebook to draw what they see is a fun nature study for them to see which animals are still out and about exploring during the cold, winter months.
For this nature study, you’ll need a nature journal for your children to use and record what they see. Also, consider having a little backpack that they wear as well when walking in case they see any objects that they want to bring home with them.
There’s a lot to learn by simply playing in the snow! Build a snowman, have a snowball fight, and go sledding. You could also make a quinzee to go along with your survival study. It would make a fun place to read some winter books while all bundled up!
Study the trees and plants and talk about how they’ve changed since Summer
Watching the plants change during the course of winter is a great learning opportunity for homeschooling. Use journals and have your children write about how different the plants look now versus the other seasons, being as descriptive as possible. Make certain that they’ve got enough writing utensils as well!
Talk about how the snow changes quickly depending on temperature
While the snow may be beautiful to look at, it’s also really great to study as well. Snow outside during cold weather stays in snow form, but what happens when the temperature changes? Or what happens when that snow gets held in your child’s hand? Grab a few kid-friendly scoops and shovels and let them play around in the snow a bit to understand how it can easily turn to liquid.
Go on a winter scavenger hunt exploring everything in nature
Have fun creating a winter scavenger hunt that your children are certain to enjoy. Add items like pinecones, berries, leaves, and rocks to the list and let them explore the great outdoors trying to find each and every item. Make certain that they have their own buckets or containers to collect all their items on the list!
Make Winter Crafts
Don’t have any snow yet? Make snowflakes! You could also draw or paint winter scenes.
Gather some conifer sprigs, winter berries, pinecones, and twigs to make a winter wreath. Use a wreath ring, some wire and ribbon, and a little glue if necessary to design a wreath for the front door.
Practice photography using a macro lens for you iPhone. This will allow you to take a photo of a snowflake and see the intricate details God put into each flake.
Make a bird feeder for the winter birds to enjoy. Research what kind of food winter birds tend to like and either put it in your waiting bird feeder or make a feeder of your own. You could even just set out some fruit. Then watch as these tough creatures chow down. Track the birds you see, study them, and draw pictures.
Create Winter Memories
The best way to learn is to make it memorable. Take some evening walks. With the shorter days, you’ll be able to do lots of star gazing without staying up late. Enjoy the silence of the winter or talk about what you’re seeing. Listen for the owls!
Speaking of owls, a fascinating activity would be to dissect an owl pellet!
Birdwatch outside to talk about the ones you see
Ever wonder what birds are still out and about enjoying winter? Birdwatching is a great winter nature study! It’s easier to spot the birds with the trees bare. Listen to the various calls and try to identify them simply by listening. Make certain to have binoculars on hand so even far away birds can be viewed with ease. You can even introduce a fun bird feeder craft to do and place outdoors as well.
Capture Winter with Art
Join our friends at ChalkPastel.com for a fantastic winter art study!
Are you snowed in? Winter Video Art Lessons with Nana help you capture the beauty of this season! Just add a starter set of chalk pastels, construction paper (or your nature journal). No expensive, intimidating list of art supplies. Winter is a wonderful stand alone art curriculum or a perfect complement to your nature study learning.
Turn the dreary winter into a wonderland with nature study!
The great part about homeschooling during the winter is that there is so much winter nature to get outside and explore. Depending on where you live, your winter experiences may be different from others but still offer a great chance to introduce and engage in some amazing winter nature studies with your child.