It’s winter, and it’s snowing. What can you do when you’re feeling stuck on those long, cold days? Take the opportunity to explore outdoors with your children, of course!
Winter is the perfect time for a snow-study program. Whether you’re looking for a winter homeschool curriculum unit on snow or simply enjoying a winter day with a small child, play with these snowy day nature study ideas!
Explore Animal Homes As Part of a Winter Homeschool Unit
Where are animals living on these snowy days? Search for holes in the snow and look for burrows at the base of trees. Look up the tree and examine it to see if there are woodpecker holes. If the snow is not too deep, turn over logs and look for animals underneath. Some surprising animals thrive on snowy days. For example, woodbugs actually contain an antifreeze that prevent them from freezing in the cold.
Other animals are hiding from the cold. With your small children or young homeschoolers, read a book about hibernation like Bear Can’t Sleep by Karma Wilson. Talk about how some animals sleep in the winter while others migrate to warmer climates. What summer animals are no longer here? What summer animals are sleeping? This is the perfect opportunity to research a specific animal and do a study unit.
Homeschoolers Will Enjoy A Snowy Day Search For Animal Tracks and Signs
A snowy day is a perfect time for homeschoolers and other intrepid adventurers to head outdoors to look for signs of animal life. Find a good tracking book—Animal Tracks of North America is a personal favorite. It is pocket-sized and very easy to use. In addition to looking for tracks, look for signs like animal scat (poo) and bits of food that an animal may have left behind. For example, chewed branches are a sign that a deer or a porcupine might be in the area. The aim here is not necessarily for the children to be right, it’s to have fun and learn that different animals leave different signs behind.
Dress Up! Discover How Animals Stay Warm In the Snow
Animals use a myriad of different ways to stay warm during the cold, snowy winter. Snow itself is actually quite warm. Build a snow fort and discover how it provides shelter from the winter winds. Snow is an insulator since it keeps air in little pockets inside the snow, just like a thick sweater.
If it’s not too cold and you can experiment a little with outdoor clothing, try wearing different thicknesses and different kinds of clothing outdoors. What keeps you the warmest? Mammals often grow a thicker layer of fur to prepare for the winter.
Can you stay warm when you get damp? Many animals use waterproofing to keep the heat in since damp skin means that water and heat will evaporate off your skin, cooling you down.
Other animals use a thick layer of fat to stay warm. Place some lard inside a vinyl glove and put your hand inside, then plunge it into the snow. Do the same with a hand with just a glove and no lard. What’s the difference? The hand with the fat around it should stay much warmer.
Contrary to what some might think, winter is a fabulous time to do a nature study program with children. It affords an opportunity to talk about hibernation, winter food, animal tracks, and how animals stay warm. Enjoy a snowy day nature study program with your homeschoolers this winter season!