Winter often conjures images of cosy fireplaces and hot chocolate, but it can also present a unique landscape and opportunities for learning, especially for those homeschool families who get to enjoy the winter days while they’re bright. Here are four outdoor activities to get your children not only outside in the cold but asking to stay out longer. Just make sure to pack mittens!
1. Crafting Ice Sculptures: A Blend of Art and Science
Making ice sculptures can be both creative, scientific and a feat of engineering. Start by filling various sizes and shapes of containers with water and leaving them to freeze overnight. You can use ice cube trays, plastic food containers or even bowls. The more varied the shape the better. Once frozen, unmold these ice blocks and let your children's imagination take the lead. They can create structures or abstract forms. This activity encourages artistic expression and also opens discussions about the properties of water and ice, temperature, and even the concept of temporary art. For added fun, add food colouring to the water before freezing!
2. Nature Scavenger Hunt: Exploring Winter's Wonders
Organise a nature scavenger hunt in your backyard or a nearby park. Create a list of items for your children to find, such as a pine cone, a red leaf, or animal tracks in the snow. A nature walk is a great way to better understand your environment and looking out for specific things along the way can be great for improving observational skills and also make you and your child more present in the moment. Different age groups of children could look for different things; the older they get the more specific the tree or animal could be. It can also then extend into work back at home; creating a presentation to show what they saw on the walk.
You can find a winter scavenger hunt on our resources page by clicking here.
3. Building a Snow Fort: Lessons in Engineering and Teamwork
Building a snow fort is a classic winter activity that is both fun and educational. It requires planning, teamwork, and a bit of physical effort. Guide your children in designing their fort, discussing the strength of structures and the properties of snow. This hands-on activity enhances spatial awareness, encourages problem-solving, and is a practical lesson in basic engineering. Plus, once the fort is built, it becomes the perfect setting for imaginative play.
4. Winter Gardening: Understanding Ecosystems and Sustainability
Gardening doesn’t have to be restricted to the warmer months. Research plants that can be sown in winter or focus on indoor winter gardening. This could involve starting a herb garden on a windowsill or planting bulbs that will bloom in spring. Gardening teaches children about plant biology, ecosystems, and the importance of caring for the environment. It also instils a sense of responsibility and patience as they wait for their plants to grow.
You can find a list of winter friendly vegetables and flowers on our resources page by clicking here.
While winter's cold might seem daunting, it provides a unique sensory environment for children to explore. The key is to dress appropriately - in layers, with waterproof outerwear, and warm boots. Treat yourselves to a thermos of hot chocolate or tea mid trip to warm up.
Incorporating these outdoor activities into your homeschool curriculum is not only beneficial for physical health but also enhances mental well-being. It breaks the routine, provides a change of scenery, and can invigorate both you and your children with fresh air and a new perspective.
So, embrace the winter season with your children. Each flake of snow and icicle is a potential lesson in the making. Whether it's through creating an ephemeral ice sculpture, deciphering the story behind animal tracks, or watching a tiny seed sprout in a winter garden, the learning opportunities are as boundless as the winter sky. Let's bundle up and step out into this winter wonderland of education!