The cold weather is upon us, but that doesn’t mean nature study must cease. I mean, let’s not be crazy–we don’t want any limbs lost for the sake of nature study. But we can still do plenty to study nature in the cold. Both braving the cold for limited times AND staying warm and cozy inside. This is a packed-full post of winter nature study ideas in many different ways. Pick and choose what will work for you and pin it for later when you’ve run out of ideas and you’re starting to get stir crazy!
Ready?? Let’s go!
100 Ways to Study Nature in the Cold
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Winter Nature Subjects to Study
First, these are ideas of things that are prime topics to study in cold weather. Pick one for each week or each nature walk. OR pick one and dive deep on it for a whole month or more!
- Coniferous Trees
- Animals Coping with the Cold
- Snow and Ice
- Study how nature applies to the holidays we’re approaching
- Winter birds
- Animal tracks in the snow
- Maple trees and maple sugaring (this is one of our all-time favorites!)
- Winter weather
- Bird migration
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(Mostly) Fictional Winter Nature Books to Read
We’ve read all these books over the years, but the books with the (*) means we own and love it!
11. Animals in Winter *
12. Over and Under*
13. Winter World: The Ingenuity of Animal Survival
14. Time to Sleep
15. Big Tracks, Little Tracks*
16. The Animals’ Sleep in Winter
17. First Snow in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy*
18. The Mitten*
19. Outside Your Window: A First Book of Nature*
20. Winter Bees *(a poetry book that we love in the winter!!)
21. The Story of Snow Children
22. Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night
23. Fox’s Garden (Stories without Words)
24. Winter is Coming
25. Before Morning
27. The Snow Rabbit
28. A Poem for Peter
29. Once Upon a Northern Night*
30. Adventures with Barefoot Critters
32. Aurora: A Tale of the Northern Lights
33. Best in Snow *(JUST ordered this book for our bookshelves…the photography is amazing!)
34. The Story of Snow
35. Snowflake Bentley
36. The Big Snow*
37. White Snow Bright Snow*
38. The Snowflake: Winter’s Frozen Artistry
39. The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story
40. Curious About Snow
41. First Snow
42. Winter Walk
43. The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice
44. Hibernation Station
45. A Bird in Winter (A poetry inspired by the art of Peter Breugel!)
46. Owl Moon*
47. Snowflakes in Photographs
48. Backyard Birds of Winter
49. Winter Birds of Christmas (but great for all winter!)
50. Chickadee Winter
51. Secrets of Winter* (a Shine-a-Light book….these are an ALL-TIME favorite in our house!!)
52. Waiting for Winter* (LOVE the illustrations in this one)
Winter Nature Projects
53. Use a macro lens for your iPhone and take close up photos of snowflakes and ice. Even take some photos of the frost on your windows in the morning. When you have a good amount of photos taken, have a book printed to show off all your child’s beautiful photography.
54. Create a nature table.
55. If you don’t have snow where you live, try preserving some of your leaves!
56. Make some Maple Sugar Snow Candy just like they do in Little House in the Big Woods.
57. Use some little sprigs from your coniferous trees as paint brushes and create some seasonal art.
58. Gather up some of your markers without much color left and use them to color the snow. You’ll be surprised how much color shows up!
59. Make some soap from dried herbs.
60. Make some soy wax candles and talk about where soy wax comes from.
61. Make snow cream!
62. Create a polar bear and his habitat from clay and read about polar bears.
63. Build a snow fort or a snowman.
64. Talk about surviving in cold weather outside. Make a list of what you’d need to survive a night outdoors. Research how to build a quinzee.
Make and Create
65. Make some simple clay snowmen with clay, beads for eyes, sticks for arms.
66. Make a snow gauge to measure the snow with a paint stir stick.
67. Draw or paint a snow scene using white paints and oil pastels.
68. Draw the Northern Lights with chalk pastels and blend the colors with your finger.
69. Cut out snowflakes with tissue paper
70. Have a snowman making contest with the neighbors!
71. Make some treats for the birds with dried fruits and nuts.
72. Build a birdhouse to put out in the spring
73. Make some wind chimes with things from your recycling bin.
74. Make wreaths from winter greenery for your doors.
Warm and Cozy Nature Games
75. Wild Craft!
76. Family Pastimes Harvest Time
77. Bug Bingo
78. Bird Bingo
79. Night Sky Playing Cards
80. Family Pastimes Snowstorm
81. Let’s Go Hiking!
82. Into the Forest, Nature’s Food Chain Game
More Cold Weather Nature Ideas!
83. Have a winter-themed Poetry Teatime
84. Look at the wintry trees in your yard. Do some bark rubbings for your nature journals.
85. Use the app NightWalk and go for a nighttime nature walk on a clear night and spot the constellations.
86. Keep a weather calendar
87. Go snow shoeing or sledding.
88. Measure icicles.
89. Graph the temps each day and watch them go down (and up again as the spring comes!)
90. Put out food for the winter birds and keep the feeder by a window so you can watch and journal about what you see.
91. Catch falling snowflakes on a black piece of construction paper and notice the different shapes.
92. Look at snowflakes under a microscope.
93. Tap your maple trees for sap or visit a local nature center that does this.
94. On an especially cold day, look through your seed catalogs and plan your garden for the spring.
95. Have you ever dissected an owl pellet?? This would be a great time of year to study owls. Read some owl books and dissect an owl pellet!
96. Talk about the make-up of snowflakes–prisms!
97. Measure the temperature within a snowbank.
98. Look for animal foraging signs.
99. Watch an icy sidewalk melt when you sprinkle it with salt.
100. Last but not least, take a winter nature course with your kids! Winter Nature by Learning Well Community is a video-based course with tutorials on many fantastic wintry projects you can make with your kids. PLUS videos from nature study experts with their tips and tricks on how to study nature in the winter!