Most people don’t see winter as the ideal time for getting outdoors with our children; the days are shorter, being in the UK the weather is often less than inviting, and it’s hard to motivate ourselves to leave the comfort of our cosy houses. But children just don’t think this way. As far as my toddler is concerned, when it comes to getting outdoors the weather is pretty much irrelevant. As long as they’re dressed to suit the weather, children will happily romp around regardless. And in the world that our kids are going to grow up in, it is important that our children are eco-conscious and aware of the environment and natural world around them. The sustainable ideas for winter nature activities that are listed below can be a great way to instil the love for the environment and nature in your kids and have some great family time.
Make a birdfeeder
Winter is the perfect time to feed the birds in your garden and is a great opportunity to observe them. There are so many great ways to make simple bird feeders with kids (Pinterest is your friend here). Set the feeders up in your garden where you can easily observe them from a window.
Winter scavenger hunt
Scavenger hunts are fun outdoor activities for kids that can be enjoyed all year-round. Winter scavenger hunts can focus on items that can be found outside in the colder months, like pinecones, acorns, frozen puddles, evergreens, etc. You can find a lot of examples on Pinterest or make your own.
Make a winter mandala
Making a mandala, especially from natural items, is a wonderful activity to do any time of year. In its simplest form, a mandala is a circular structure with a design that radiates out symmetrically from the centre. You can find natural mandalas in flowers, tree rings, spider webs, seashells, and more. There is no right or wrong way to make one which is why it is such a wonderful way to engage children to make their own mandalas using items they find in nature.
Go for a walk to collect items to use in your winter mandala and let the children’s imaginations create something beautiful! This is a great time to discuss symmetry, shapes and colours, and just let their creativity roam.
Go on a Muddy Puddle Walk
On of my daughter’s favourite things to do outside is to jump in muddy puddles (Thank you, Peppa!) So pop on your waterproofs and head out to the park, the woods, wherever and have some fun splashing around in muddy puddles!
Geocaching is a great way to explore outside and it’s a great outdoor nature activity for winter. It is free, easy, fun, appropriate for all ages, and it’s outdoors and amongst nature! People set up hidden treasure “caches” and then upload the coordinates so that other people can find them. You use an app on a smartphone to find them so it’s great way to lure techy kids outside!
Explore a beach (or other nature abundant area)
Obviously this depends if you live near a beach or not, if you don’t why not try a nature walk in a local woodland or nature reserve. You can look for minibeasts, birds, plants and other animals.
Living in Cornwall, we like to make the most of the fabulous coastline available to us, whatever the weather. So beach trips happen even in the winter, the wind, the chill and the rain included. We just wrap up warm and waterproof the toddler, as far as she’s concerned if she’s in her puddlesuit and wellies she’s unstoppable anyway.
Beaches in the wintertime are magical places. While the cooler temperature makes the water far too cold for swimming, there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy during the winter months. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend some time at your local beach, looking at shells, drawing in the sand, and observing birds and marine life. Look for a place where the sand is dotted with rocks so that the water get’s trapped when the tide is low; you will find many critters in these small rockpools. You can take magnifying glasses for identification and paper or journals to do some observation drawings.