Winter Nature Walks for Kids

by Barb on January 31, 2014

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Winter nature walks for kids can be a lot of fun. I still remember the winters during our homeschooling years when we walked at a local wildlife refuge almost every week. At first glance the winter landscape seems bleak and dreary. Then you notice the little birds flitting to and fro among the trees and seed pods revealed on stalks of brown.

Winter Nature Walks for Kids

Getting Ready to Walk

Always dress appropriately for walking outside in the winter. Plan on setting aside at least an hour for the walk depending on the age of your kids. If you have little ones, check on conditions ahead of time. Some places have nice flat trails for jogging strollers while others may be a bit more rugged. When my guys were really little (under 6 months) I carried them in a Baby Bjorn. After 6 months we moved to the jogging stroller with a nifty little sack to keep them warm.

Winter Nature Walks for Kids: Cat Tails

Places to Go

To get started, try taking walks in the different habits in your area. For example, our hometown area, the Delaware Valley, is home to a fresh water marsh, salt water marsh, meadows, mountains, and woods. The fresh water marsh is the source for walks throughout the year since it serves as a stopping point for birds migrating in the spring and fall. The other spots can be visited seasonally to see what changes have occurred.

Winter Nature Walks for Kids: Animal Track Finder

What to Look For

Toddlers can look for leaf buds, common birds and animals, animal tracks, or signs of insect activity like praying mantis egg cases. Preschoolers can be introduced to the concept of seasons. They can also begin to differentiate between the different types of environments.

Elementary students and up can use nature journals to help them hone in on details in the environments such as tree shapes, different types of birds, and coniferous vs deciduous trees. Later in winter, they can look for migratory birds if they live near one of the migratory bird routes.

Elementary students are ready to understand concepts like the water cycle and the roles the different members of the environments play. Elementary students can also learn about recycling and how to preserve the environment for others.

winter-nature-walks-for-kids-5

Ways to Extend the Walk

  • Make small file folder books to use as nature journals for each walk.
  • Start a regular nature journal with a sketch book from an art store.
  • Learn bird calls for your area. Petersen’s Birding by Ear CD is one resource our family has used.
  • Have a visual scavenger hunt. Print out pictures of animal tracks, animals, birds, or trees to look for and have the kids match them up with the pictures.
  • Learn about animal tracks and make air dry clay casts of tracks you find.
  • Take a walk at night and listen to the sounds of the nocturnal birds and animals.
  • Buy your children disposable cameras if they’re young or lend them your camera if they’re old enough and take pictures of what they see. Focus on a theme for each walk.

Winter Nature Walks for Kids: Downy Woodpecker

Resources

Winter Nature Walks for Kids: John Heinz Wildlife Refuge

Places to go in the Delaware Valley

Bartram’s Garden
Fort Washington State Park
John Heinz Wildlife Refuge
John James Audubon Center at Mill Grove
Hildacy Farm Preserve
Morris Arboretum
Ridley Creek State Park
Scott Arboretum at Swarthmore College
Tyler Arboretum

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Meet Barb

Barb Hoyer has written 3762 posts.

After working in the fundraising world for over ten years, Barb is an avid runner, writer, photographer, parent volunteer, and lover of dictionaries and thesauruses. Wife to an engineer and mom to 5 kids, Barb lives in the suburbs of Philly. Her idea of relaxation is an afternoon on the couch with a stack of books.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

Heather January 31, 2014 at 7:17 am

Love these ideas! I had to pin so I could go on some winter adventures with my boys!
Heather recently posted..Makin’ Music for Families DVD Review

Barb January 31, 2014 at 1:13 pm

Wonderful! I can’t wait to read about your adventures.

lindsey January 31, 2014 at 7:30 am

Ok so when it gets a liiiiiittle bit warmer this is such a great idea! I am lucky to live around some beautiful colleges and we love to stroll around!
lindsey recently posted..5 Ways to show your skin some LOVE this Valentine’s Day {Rodan + Fields Giveaway}

Rachel January 31, 2014 at 10:26 am

That’s a great list! We’re always looking for new places to explore in the area :D

Gina B January 31, 2014 at 10:49 am

Well, I’d prefer it to warm up a WEE bit more, but I surely will be checking out some awesome walks in February!
Gina B recently posted..How to Have a Gluten Free SuperBowl Sunday!

Tina @ Life Without Pink January 31, 2014 at 11:42 am

Great ideas! I’m saving this for when it gets nice out :)

Barb January 31, 2014 at 1:09 pm

Yes! I miss last year’s mild winter.

Carrie MkgLemonade January 31, 2014 at 1:39 pm

Great ideas, pinning for when the temps increase just a teeny bit!

Amiyrah February 3, 2014 at 9:49 am

What a great idea. I’m always trying to find new things for the kids to do in the winter, that doesn’t include a TV, laptop or video game. This is perfect.
Amiyrah recently posted..7 Things to buy in February

Life with Kaishon February 3, 2014 at 10:18 am

We have so many incredible places to visit in our community, don’t we? Thanks for taking the time to compile this list of locations!
Life with Kaishon recently posted..Well, the Super Bowl came and went and we lived to tell about it.

kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS February 3, 2014 at 11:26 am

I love all of your tips! There are so many beautiful arboretums around us, it’s our favorite place to visit. I never went to them as a kid, so I love reliving the new excitement with mine!
kim @ DESIGN + LIFE + KIDS recently posted..black, white + gold iphone cases

Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:51 am

You’re right. We have so many wonderful places to visit. You know I love Longwood Gardens! I could go there every month.

Carrie @ Chockababy February 3, 2014 at 12:59 pm

I wish I was as dedicated as you sometimes! I did get out with the kids yesterday as the temps reached high in the 40s but below that, I just can’t do it! We have great nature parks nearby too!
Carrie @ Chockababy recently posted..Allergy Friendly Valentine Treats

Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:46 am

This winter has been so hard. When I was pulling the pictures together for the post, I found lots of pictures from past winters which were clearly warmer than this one. It also helped to have a jogging stroller to carry the youngest child.

Jeanine @MommyEntourage February 3, 2014 at 1:25 pm

There is a small nature center near us and my son absolutely loved his first visit there!
Jeanine @MommyEntourage recently posted..The LEGO Movie Review and Sneak Peek!

Caitlin February 3, 2014 at 2:31 pm

I love taking nature walks! Thank you for the tips on extending the walk. I love the visual scavenger idea.
Caitlin recently posted..The Adventures of Elinor and Daddy

Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:45 am

If you google nature study or Montessori, you can find scavenger hunt aids like cards and printables to help the littles know what to look for.

Lauryn February 3, 2014 at 2:37 pm

We sure love nature walks! May even take one today…I know I know, snow, but still…lots to learn from that too:)
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Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:44 am

DD7 and I walked in the snow yesterday. We waited until the snow slowed down. My hubby wants to walk in the woods when it’s snowing.

Jessica @EatSleepBe February 3, 2014 at 2:47 pm

Great ideas. I’d love to do a geocaching adventure one day with the kids. Have never done that!
Jessica @EatSleepBe recently posted..10 Great Organizations that Support our Troops

Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:40 am

I’d love to do that, too! I have a friend who geocaches with her kids. Maybe this summer since my youngest will be 6 and up for longer walks.

Jennifer @Making Our Life Matter February 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

My boys love using the disposable cameras. We use them during walks during the Spring/Summer. Never thought to do it during the winter, though.
Jennifer @Making Our Life Matter recently posted..#Ad:Valentine’s Day Meal Ideas For The Entire Family #LuvTyson

Barb February 4, 2014 at 5:39 am

Yes, I don’t worry as much about my kids dropping a disposable.

Samantha @ Runamuk Acres February 4, 2014 at 11:01 am

Great post! We take regular nature walks as part of our homeschool Earth-education program, always taking a backpack with field guides to help us identify plants or animals. I’ve found that often younger children will want to turn back early–but you can “encourage” their participation by bringing along a snack and water, and taking a snack-break half-way through–as a sort of “mini-picnic”. This also lends makes a good segway to nature study activities. Thanks!
Samantha @ Runamuk Acres recently posted..Establishing a new farm: Where to start & how to prioritize

Barb February 4, 2014 at 2:09 pm

Yes, my kids always travel with food!

Nicky February 7, 2014 at 11:54 am

All great ideas for getting kids out and back to nature. We don’t get as much during the winter but try to whenever the weather is warmer. I found your site on the Family Fun Friday.
Nicky recently posted..Friday Pin Fest #17

Barb February 7, 2014 at 4:15 pm

Thank you! Up until this winter, we’ve been able to get out a lot. This winter, not so much, though I think the really cold temps are gone. We just have lots of snow.

Heather G. @ Golden Reflections Blog February 7, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Great tips, we love walking outside too! Thanks for linking up to Good Tips Tuesday!
Heather G. @ Golden Reflections Blog recently posted..DIY Tic Tac Toe Game: Pre-Writing Activities for Kids Series

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