The first dusting of snow fell last week, and today we have gotten several inches of the white stuff. My middle-school-aged son and I have been studying animals in science this year, so we are gearing up to have some fun with nature study in the winter. We have our bird feeders set out where we can see them from the warmth of the kitchen, and I am planning a hike or two as soon as it warms up just a tad. While spring and summer may seem like the optimum months for nature study, winter can be enjoyable, too.
Here are a few ways we enjoy nature study even when the temperature plummets outside:
- We put up bird feeders and keep a record of which birds visit our yard. We also like to experiment with different types of bird seed and feeders, to see which ones attract more birds. Right now, we have a clean vegetable oil bottle filled with regular bird seed and a suet basket.
- We check out animal tracks and compare them to our animal tracks guidebook to see if we can identify the animal that made each one. We see a lot of rabbit tracks in our neighborhood!
- Some years, we enjoy making temperature and precipitation graphs. We had so little snow last year that it wasn’t much fun, but we are off to a good start already this year.
- When it isn’t too cold out, we like using my son’s telescope to study the stars. We compare the stars that we can see in the winter to those that we normally see in the summer.
- We combine nature study and art by drawing winter landscapes. This is especially fun when we can take a trip to the lake and watch the geese on the water and the snow on the trees before we draw.
- When it is just too cold to consider going outside at all, sometimes we curl up with a good book about hibernation and stay indoors!
While it may take a little more planning — and a lot more clothing! — to do nature study in the winter, we feel it is worth it. With the fresh air, the peacefulness of being outdoors in the cold, and the different items to study, we have come to greet the first weeks of winter nature study like a long lost friend.
What nature discoveries have you found this winter?
Originally published at hedua.com.