My girls look forward to winter as a magical time when the snow blankets the ground and clings to the pine trees around our house. It is so pretty and so irresistible that of course we have to spend time outside in spite of the freezing temperatures! Although most people think of nature studies at warmer times of the year, winter is still a great time to get outside and learn.
Since we live in a rural area, we are fortunate to have a lot of wildlife around our yard. We decided it would be fun to look for the tracks of different animals we’d seen before. On Thanksgiving, we saw a flock of wild turkeys cross our yard. There were 23 turkeys altogether according to our count as we watched them from our window. After that big snow, the girls and I decided to look for tracks. It wasn’t long before we found these going across our side yard and into the woods:
We followed up the tracking by reading about wild turkeys — what they eat, how and where they make their nests, and other information like that. The girls then did some artwork, drawing pictures of the tracks and what the flock looked like when it crossed our yard. It was a great nature study with minimal planning on my part.
We also found the tracks of some of our other backyard friends. I mentioned before that we have a raccoon family living behind our garage. We were able to see their tracks as well, following them straight to our garbage can that they like to knock over, even though we have it closed shut with a bungee cord. Those raccoons are resourceful! We found deer tracks nearby and even the tracks of the stray cat that we see and feed from time to time in the hopes that she’ll keep mice away from our house. =0) I know we also have foxes and coyotes, but we didn’t see any of their tracks when we were looking. It was a fun day of tracking for us!
We like unit studies a lot around here. The girls like to thoroughly investigate a topic of interest and I like it that we can combine activities for each age into what we’re studying. We’ve used Amanda Bennett’s unit studies, especially the Download N Go series, quite often. Winter Wonders is one of our favorites. My girls love the lapbooking elements combined with it and I like it that the schedule is all laid out for us so I know which library books to get and the links are already embedded so we can just read and click.
If you’ve never read any of the Discover Nature series for children, I recommend it. It’s a great intro to nature studies and activities that can be done easily around home or in a nearby park. They cover many different topics (garden, around your house, wetlands, etc.), but this one happens to be all about winter, including winter star gazing and what goes on with trees during the winter. There are some great meteor showers in the winter and watching the night sky is one of our favorite family activities!
Here are some of the books we found at the library to use with our nature study. Everything from snowflakes to tracking animals in the winter to The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder because we love all things Little House and it’s a great read-aloud for the winter!
I highly recommend Snowflake Bentley and the free lapbook/unit study to go with it on Homeschool Share. It’s a close-up look at snowflakes and the life of the man who first took pictures of them with his microscope and camera.
When we came in from the cold to warm up with the mandatory hot chocolate, we watched some of these just for fun. My girls love both of them!
Avoid cabin fever this winter and try a nature study! Have you ever gone looking for animal tracks in the snow?
Visit other bloggers in the Homeschool Blogging Network for more ideas:
Winter Notebooking Pages by Living Life and Learning
Ice Skating Notebooking Pages by In All You Do
Arctic Unit Study and Sensory Bin by A Sip of Southern Sunshine
Build a Snowman Sensory Play by Stephanie Rose Knows
Writing Frosty Winter Poetry by Classes By Beth
Winter Nature Study – Embracing Destiny
Winter Fun With FREE Print Packs – Simple At Home
Winter Books and Activities – Amy’s Wandering
Snow Books and Activities – Proverbial Homemaker
Preschool Polar Bear Activities – Sight and Sound Reading
Short story about rainy season – by Maria Magdalena Husain
Winter Themed Units and Free Printables by Chestnut Grove Academy
Ice Skating Coloring & Notebooking Pages by Year Round Homeschooling
Winter Counting with Snowflakes and Ice Skates by Homeschool Preschool