Winter Nature Walk: An Adventure
A snow day. Extra time on the weekends. The precious weeks when kids are between sporting commitments and have a few extra hours. These are great times to take a walk outdoors and explore the natural world in winter.
Involve kids in planning in order to build excitement for the walk. Start by conducting online research about what to expect. Kids can look up the types of birds, insects, and animals that are in their natural environment. They can learn about the animal tracks they might see and native plants in the area. When they’re finished, they can turn their research into a bounty list of things they can find on the walk.
Kids may also want to make a backpack with items they’ll use. These could include a kids’ camera, a ruler or tape measure, and containers or bags to take home things they find on the walk. If there are younger kids going, you may want to bring a sled to pull them along if they’re tired but still curious about what is ahead.
Give some thought to the time of day and the length of the walk. Consider if there’s an area you want to drive to instead of keeping close to home. Plan for any snacks you’d want to bring. Lastly, be sure to talk to kids about staying safe outdoors, leaving no trace, and keeping their distance from any wildlife they may encounter.
On the walk
Take things slow and enjoy what is around. If kids tend to rush, challenge them to see what they can notice in each moment or how many items they can find from their bounty list. A game of frozen statue can also help kids to slow down and experience the silence.
Kids can also be on the lookout for any signs of animals. These include tracks, trees with the bark rubbed off, feathers, or fur. During the walk, challenge them to use as many of their senses as they can to see what they notice. Ask them to listen for new sounds or identify the differences in a single shade of color such as white. Younger kids may also want to experience the texture of snow, or bark.
Arts on the Walk
Kids on the walk may want to keep a journal, drawing pad and crayons, pens, markers, or colored pencils. The can use them to sketch what they see, create a landscape drawing, write notes to refer to later, or craft a descriptive paragraph or poem.
You can also use natural materials to make land art. Use sticks to make spirals in the snow or arrange twigs, berries or evergreen leaves in a pattern. Challenge the kids to make art that you can see. Don’t get too elaborate, just have fun.
Once you’re all back home its time for hot chocolate – and to talk about the adventure. Kids may want to discuss it with each other or spend time alone to finish what they draw or wrote. They may want to go back online to further research what they saw. All these responses show they’re excited about their walk. You’ve probably shared a memory that will last for years.