Living in Maine we get to experience all four seasons. Sometimes we joke about having a 2nd winter– which often occurs in late April. The cooler temperatures can arrive as early as September and stick around until May. This is a long period of time and it can require some real creativity to not get cabin fever and go stir crazy in the process.
One thing that is a real challenge for me in the winter months is getting outside. As much as I like to try and be thankful for seasons, I don’t really like winter. I am not a fan of the cold. And oh my, putting on all the layers of clothes. Not to mention the mess of wet clothing when you come inside. Yeah, I have to really pep myself up to get outdoors but my kids love it. So I try to love it. The one way I have found to make being outdoors in the winter fun is with some creative ideas that we can tie into our homeschool day.
Winter sports is a great way to get outside and exercise during the colder months. You can have your child participate in group sports or partake in individual sports. Here are some fun winter sports:
- Downhill Skiing
- Cross Country Skiing
- Ice Skating
The only downside to these sports is that you will need to either rent or invest in some sort of equipment. Our local communities sent up ice rinks in the community parts, they usually have skates for people to borrow but I am not sure if this will be true this year with the pandemic. However, local thrift stores, online town market sites are a good place to find used equipment for less money. Most ski areas do provide rentals of equipment, this is a good idea if you are not ready to invest in the sport 100%.
While it is not a winter sport, per say, sledding is a fun way to get outdoors too! The investment is small. All you need is a sled (we prefer the nice sturdy plastic ones) and a good hill! One time we even used a large box just for fun!
All of these are great physical education opportunities!
As winter begins to set in, my kids begin to notice a change in animals and their behavior. This is a great opportunity to talk about migration and hibernation. We have a pond that is partially on our property, so we are accustomed to a lot of wildlife and insects. So it was natural that my kids would begin to ask “what happens to _____ in the winter?” I got asked questions about everything from worms, fireflies, birds, turtles, frogs, and deer. While I could answer some questions, it was a great opportunity to find books at the library.
Probably, our favorite activity in the winter in regards to animals is finding and identifying tracks. Snow provides a great means of determining animals that have been roaming around an area. We have found some very interesting animals that have claimed residency on our property. One track had us a little perplexed, so we went to the local library and checked out a book to see if we could identify the animal. We had an idea but couldn’t be 100% sure, so we then set out a game camera. It is a little understatement to say we got more than we bargained for!
Residents living under our house
The opossum was really neat but the skunk would invite other friends over.
A favorite book of ours is Stranger in the Woods: A Photographic Fantasy by Jean Stoick and Carl R. Sams II.
Fun Outdoor Activities
In the spring months, we can get a lot of rain. This can be true for late fall too. During these storms you can hear people say “Imagine if that was snow, how much would it be?” Well, for kids that can be difficult to imagine. They see a lot of snow and think that must be a lot of water. So one day, I thought it would be fun for my daughter to go outside and collect a jar of snow. I then had her mark with tape how much water she thought would be in the jar when it melted? Now granted she knew that the measure of water would be less than the snow amount but she was amazed at how much lower it was. The “rule-of-thumb” that 10 inches of snow is equal to 1 inch of water.
Snowflakes really are amazing! It absolutely fascinates me and my kids that no two snowflakes are alike. Out of all the snowflakes that fall every single one is unique–HOW TRULY AMAZING IS THAT?? I tend to wear bolder colors like red, and when I have been outside for a bit if it is snowing, the snowflakes will land on my coat and stay visible for a few moments. The kids and I love looking at the unique patterns of them.
Many people think blowing bubbles is just a warm weather activity, but really it is kind of fun to do things differently. So go ahead on a nice sunny winter day and set up a bubble station. Then you can talk about if there are any differences from blowing bubbles in winter.
Snow art! Okay, so many people create snow sculptures and build snowmen but you can up your experience by painting and decorating your creations. We love to either paint the snow or ice, but we also like to decorate our snowmen with natural resources such as fruits and vegetables that can be beneficial to the wildlife. You can choose to put liquid watercolors or food coloring mixture in spray bottles but sometimes for fun I bring out some paint that we are just about done with and let my kids use paint brushes to paint the snow. The wonderful thing is that rubbing the brush in the snow removes the paint so you can easily change colors.
If it happens to be too cold or too icy to enjoy the outdoors, I will bring a little snow inside for the kids to play with at the table. They put plastic animals in the snow, cars, and make small snowmen.
Winter can feel long for my kids too! They experience cabin fever and boredom at times as the winter months seem to drag along. So it is important to have plenty of fun and different activities to keep them excited about getting outdoors.