How to Study Nature in Winter

Make the most of cold weather by learning how to study nature in winter!

Once it gets cold, kids sometimes end up staying inside and spending more time on electronics. It doesn’t have to be that way. Now is the perfect time to study nature in winter! When else can you see hundreds of empty birds nests way up in the trees where they’ve been hiding all Spring and Summer? Winter outdoors is full of treasure and will help inspire your kids to get outside all year long.

Don’t miss the free printable winter nature scavenger hunt below!

how to study nature in winter

Did you know the human body was made to be outside? We need the sunshine and the fresh air and the exercise found through outdoor play or work. Vitamin D helps with mood, sleep, and overall health. Fresh air helps us stay healthy. Outdoor smells are therapeutic, and fresh air is energizing. Indoor air can get stale and carry germs. The air outside has been cleaned by the trees and the ultraviolet light of the sun kills germs. Yes, we need to get outside to reap those benefits. Helping instill that habit and inspiring your kids to love nature now will benefit them for a lifetime. Studying nature is a valuable life skill!

Don’t miss the free printable winter nature scavenger hunt below!

winter chickadee

Five ways to study nature in Winter

Take a hike

Bundle up, stuff some tissues and maybe hand warmers in your pockets, and hit some local trails. Even if you live in the city, you can find a great hike. Do a little research and find a book for your city like Secret Stairs: A Walking Guide to the Historic Staircases in Los Angeles, which provides details for multiple trails, and a fantastic perspective of the city. Many cities have beautiful hidden gems in Metroparks. Alternatively, if possible plan a weekly trip to a local trail outside city limits. In Winter, trails are often clear of people, and the surroundings are just as beautiful. While on your hike, look for the treasures of winter nature and discuss them. Take along a sketchbook to draw in when you come across a bench. Make sure to take water, you still need to stay hydrated on the trail even though it is cold.

winter nature scene

Go to the park

Most parks do not close down just because it is cold. Parks often have flat trails for walking, playgrounds for climbing, and picnic tables or benches where you can sit and draw what you see. Local parks are perfect for Winter nature study. Look for signs of animal life, study the local plant life and talk about how different plants and trees react to winter. Talk about what’s happening inside the plants or underground that you cannot see. Encourage your kids to describe what they see using strong adjectives and complete sentences. Have each child make a list of observations in addition to drawing in a nature journal.

winter birdfeeder

Observe a body of water

Many parks are built around a body of water and have benches around the water. Take a seat with a sketchbook and watch quietly. What do you see? Make a list of what you see and draw the things that inspire you most. If there is a path, walk around the water for fresh air and exercise. Look for things near the water that provide food to animals in winter. Do you see berries? Seeds? Fish moving? Make a list of questions to research when you get home. If you can, collect a little water from a pond or stream to observe under a microscope.

winter ducks

Participate in the Great Backyard Bird Count

Set up a bird feeder and birdbath in your backyard, visible from a good window, and keep it stocked with birdseed. It will take a few days, but you should soon have birds visiting the feeder. You can observe the birds from the comfort of your home. Have your kids visit the Great Backyard Bird Count website, read the instructions together, form a plan, and participate. You might like this bird feeder which attaches directly to a window. As long as you don’t have a pet, birds will very quickly get used to the movement and even noise inside the house and still use the feeder. As a bonus, you may also be able to observe squirrels and chipmunks around your feeder. We have spotted finches, chickadees, cardinals, blue jays, nuthatches, tufted titmice, and house sparrows on our window feeder. My daughters love it!

cardinal in winter

Have a winter scavenger hunt

Once you have visited a few trails, parks, and bodies of water in your area, you will have a good idea of the perfect location for a winter scavenger hunt. It might even be your own backyard! Print our Winter Scavenger Hunt. You can work together in teams or as individuals so print the number of copies you will need. Give everyone a clipboard, a pencil, and a time limit. Plan where to meet once the time is up, and compare your scavenger hunt papers. Is there a clear winner? You might want to provide prizes for completed rows, completed papers, or whichever team wins. Or you might just enjoy hot chocolate from a drive-thru together when you are done.

Grab your free printable winter nature scavenger hunt by clicking the image below:

nature scavenger hunt printable for kids

Find Tracks in the Snow

If you are lucky enough to have a fresh snowfall this year, get the kids up early in the morning to hunt for tracks in the snow. You will have so much fun solving the mystery of each set of tracks. Find out who left the tracks and what they were doing. You can actually look for tracks any time but after a new snow and after rain are two great times to go track-finding. This book will help.

winter woods

Study Nature in Winter and have even more fun with these tools

Binoculars

Pocket Microscope

Pocket Scope

Macro Lens for a smart phone

Magnifying Glass

Prismacolor Pencils

The Lost Art of Reading Nature’s Signs

12 Months in the Forest: a nature study journal your kids fill out

Winter Nature Study Books

&

How to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, AttentionHow to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, AttentionHow to Teach Nature Journaling: Curiosity, Wonder, AttentionTree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)Tree Finder: A Manual for Identification of Trees by their Leaves (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)Winter Tree Finder: A Manual for Identifying Deciduous Trees in Winter (Eastern US) (Nature Study Guides)A Kid's Winter EcoJournal: With Nature Activities for Exploring the SeasonA Kid’s Winter EcoJournal: With Nature Activities for Exploring the SeasonA Kid's Winter EcoJournal: With Nature Activities for Exploring the SeasonWinter Weed Finder: A Guide to Dry Plants in Winter (Nature Study Guides)Winter Weed Finder: A Guide to Dry Plants in Winter (Nature Study Guides)Winter Weed Finder: A Guide to Dry Plants in Winter (Nature Study Guides)Over and Under the SnowOver and Under the SnowOver and Under the SnowThe Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter SolsticeThe Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter SolsticeThe Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter SolsticeThe New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern RegionThe New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern RegionThe New Stokes Field Guide to Birds: Eastern RegionTrack Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America (Nature Study Guides)Track Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America (Nature Study Guides)Track Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America (Nature Study Guides)Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)

Winter Fun Activities and Resources

You can find more winter learning ideas and freebies from my friends!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Sara
Follow on
kids subscription boxes

2 Comments

Thank you for taking the time to comment!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.