5 Ways to Explore Nature in Winter
As the Lead of Children’s Programming at RPL, I am always looking out for things that will inspire our young customers to learn and discover. This year, most have had to be in the form of online offerings – but the great outdoors is still one of the greatest sources of inspiration we’ll ever know, and is a wonderful balance to our immersion in digital resources during the pandemic.
Of course, it’s easy for the family to get stuck inside when the cold weather hits, but winter gives us some special opportunities to learn together. I’ve compiled my five favourite winter activities to get you started! Throw on some layers with the kids and dive in.
Nature Regina has developed a series of self-guided hike guides to help families explore the green spaces in Regina this winter. Wandering Wednesdays outdoor guides will be posted on their site every few weeks starting the beginning of December.
Grab your binoculars and discover what kind of birds live in your neighborhood. There may be fewer birds around in winter, but with no leaves on the trees, they’re much easier to see! Check out Birds of Saskatchewan for an in-depth look at species native to our province.
- Identifying Animal Tracks
Fresh snow is great for showing tracks of animals. Try to guess what animals made the tracks, where they were going and what they were doing. If you don’t recognize the tracks, take photos of them, and search for the answers when you get home. The Complete Tracker by Len McDougall outlines the tracks and signs of North America’s most popular species.
Dark winter nights are the perfect time for families to learn about the constellations. In the winter, there are six constellations that can usually be viewed: Orion, Canis Major, Canis Minor, Taurus, Gemini, and Auriga. These constellations are known as the “Winter Six.” Sara Gillingham’s Seeing Stars: A Complete Guide to the 88 Constellations is a great way to get started.
Use a magnifying glass to examine the beauty of snowflakes close-up. Talk about how snowflakes are formed and their unique shapes. Look at the real-life story of Snowflake Bentley for inspiration.
You can find more open-air ideas on our Outdoor Fun booklist, or at our upcoming children’s program Get Outside Adventures with Nature Regina.
For expert guidance into how parents can incorporate learning into outdoor activities, check out our December webinar Empowering Parents, Engaging Learners: Outdoor Edition with author/educator Debbie Pushor.