10 Activities: Winter Nature Study

It’s cold. What type of nature study activities can you do in the winter? Here are several ideas pulled from a variety of sources:

1. Make a bird feeder.

There are several great plans for building a simple bird feeder. Use a bird identification form and keep track of the birds that visit your feeder. You can also consider joining the backyard bird count.

2. Learn how animals hibernate in the winter.

What do animals do in the winter? How do they adapt to the cold weather? Who stays snug in the snow?

3. Track animal tracks.

What type of animals visit near your home in winter? Identify the animal tracks nearby. And follow them if you are brave!

4. View the constellations.

The winter sky is perfect for viewing and identifying the constellations. You may want to start indoors to learn what types of constellations you will likely see this time of year where you live. Then head out with your free Star Stories printable:

Find the Constellations

5. Investigate ice — freezing water in all of its forms.

Why does water freeze? What are the characteristics of ice? What is frost and why do you see it on your windows? You can experiment with the three states of matter, or read about glaciers, or investigate water and ice!

6. Learn about the habits of owls.

Most places will find owls still busy outside. Winter is a good time to learn about owls and their habits. Can you spot one?

8 Winter Reading List Favorites
  • Free Nature Studies: Bird Guardians
    Information, owl pellet resources, and even poetry!
  • Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
    “If you go owling, you have to be quiet, that’s what Pa always says.” A young girl out looking for a great horned owl way past her bedtime on a cold winter night — something she waited a long time to do. Wonderful story and beautifully illustrated winner of the Caldecott Medal. “When you go owling you don’t need words or warm or anything but hope. That’s what Pa says.” Going “owling”?

7. What do trees look like in winter?

Most are rather unimpressive. But then there are conifers.

8. Chart the winter weather.

Is it cold where you live? What type of precipitation can you expect in the winter? Do you notice that the days are getting longer? Keep a temperature chart. Do you have snow? Sketch their pattern. Can you tell by looking at the clouds whether you will have rain or snow? Investigate the importance of snow in winter for areas that are typically dry during other seasons.

9. Enjoy a winter scavenger hunt.

What type of things can you search for in winter? Seeds? Cones? Bird tracks? Nests? Icicles? Or simply buried treasure?

10. Experience winter from your cozy armchair.

When you’re all cold-weathered out, pour a cup of hot cocoa and visit cold places from the warmth of your couch!

Additional Resources

101 Things to Do Outside in the Winter
Need more ideas? How about 101 of them from the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies?

Nature Study in Elementary Schools: January
Helps from a great free resource: Nature Study in Elementary Schools {Free Teacher’s Guide}.

A Kid's Winter EcoJournal

A Kid’s Winter EcoJournal With Nature Activities for Exploring the Season by Toni Albert
Information and activities include making a nature wreath, building an observation bird feeder, making nature gifts, learning about hibernation, experimenting with snow and ice, tracking animals in the snow, making ice cream in a snow freezer, and a list of winter food for wild birds, among many others.

10 Ways to Overcome the February Blahs!
Other ways to enjoy winter.

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