Winter Nature Walks for Kids

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: At first glance the winter landscape seems bleak and dreary until you notice the tiny details.

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.

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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 have your kids take pictures of what they see. Focus on a theme for each walk.

Winter Nature Walks for Kids: Downy Woodpecker

Resources

Find More Fun Ideas for Kids on my Kid Fun Board

Follow Barb Hoyer: A Life in Balance’s board Kid Fun on Pinterest.

Places to go in the Delaware Valley

Outdoor Photo Challenge for Kids

Outdoor Photo Challenge

Meet Barb

Barb Hoyer has written 4008 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

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

    • says

      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.

  1. says

    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

    • says

      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.

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