When are the thoughts that come to mind when you think of nature study?
Splashing in the water after a summer rain.
Picking spring flowers.
Gazing at the clouds on a summer afternoon.
Skipping stones across a pond.
Picking the falling leaves and studying the beautiful colors of autumn.
Pressing flowers and leaves.
Toad and frog hopping.
All of those lovely activities bring warm and cozy memories. When nature study is thought of one rarely things of cold gray skies, wind, or snow. However, Charlotte Mason contends that children should go on a nature walk every day regardless of the weather. She suggested simply bundling up on cold days. I can admit I’m can fall into the fair weather nature studier myself. However, my kids love the snow and will go outside even in storm if I would allow it. Besides, snow is quite beautiful and winter carries a magic of its own not to be pushed aside for warmer days.
What to study in the winter on a nature walk:
Snowflakes: Snowflakes are a treasure. When it is snowing stand outside with a dark coloring jacket and see if you can catch a few. Observe closely and you can see the tiny beauty. Have your children go inside and look under a microscope if you can. The internet is full of images of real snowflakes that will spark the imagination. You can take a magnifier outside with you to catch a glimpse of this treasure. Crafts surrounding this activity are endless from cutting out your own snowflakes to growing your own crystals.
Winter Bird and Animal Studies: This is a wonderful time of year to see all the animals that brave through the cold or thrive in the cold. See if you can get a snapshot of a cardinal or draw a snowy picture featuring one. Look up your bird or animal and discover how this animal survives in the snow and what it eats and where it lives.
Sky, Moons and Stars: “After the polar constellations are learned, we are then ready for further study in the still earlier evenings of winter, when the clear atmosphere makes the stars seem more alive, more sparkling, and more beautiful than at any other period of the year.” Handbook of Nature Study, page 823
This is a beautiful time to study the night sky. Do not let the winter go by without gazing at the night sky as a family. See if you can catch a glimpse of Orion.