Nothing beats that first snowy day of the year: the crunch of snow underneath your boots, the taste of snowflakes. Did you know that a snowy day is just about perfect for your children to enjoy time in their outdoor classroom? Nancy Fusco Castaldo, author of The Little Hands Nature Book, has some fantastic suggestions for winter fun. For example, take your kids outside to your outdoor classroom. As you begin walking, ask them to look around the path. What is different in the winter than in summer? How do the seasons change where you live? Then, have a winter scavenger hunt: “Look for things such as a bush with red berries, a pinecone, a bird, an icicle, a fir tree, animal tracks, and a squirrel. Look for something beautiful” (p.136).
Another fun game is called “snowflake snooping.” All you need for this game is a dark piece of fabric or paper (allow it to chill outside for a few minutes) and a hand lens (or, just borrow a magnifier from your nature center). First, collect falling snow on the fabric or paper. Then examine the snowflakes with your hand lens. Are they all the same? Look at all the different shapes. How many sides does each snowflake have? Watch the snowflakes melt. How do their shapes change?
Finally, you could also mix some water and food coloring, pour it into a spray bottle, and encourage the children to “color” the snow! Not only is this fun, but you could also share a conversation with the children about mixing colors and creating new hues.
Have fun, and enjoying kicking up some snow! I think I’m going to build a snowman now….