Winter’s Natural Tools for Learning

Heather Fox, Education Specialist 
Dimensions Educational Research Foundation and Nature Explore

Winter is in full swing, transforming many outdoor classrooms into snow dusted wonderlands full of new possibilities and challenges. Like many of you, Robyn Jennings is looking for ways to keep her children engaged in their newly Certified Nature Explore Classroom in Boulder, CO and she asked for some ideas.
Here are a few things we do to embrace winter’s gifts with children outdoors. Please take a minute to add your great ideas and inspirations too.

Cold Canvas: Take advantage of the low temperatures and add colored ice cubes to you Nature Art Area. I have seen children create structures and patterns out of the ice cubes and use them as a type of paint as they melt into a white canvas of snow.

See Through Nature: Try filling cake molds with natural items such as seashells and seed pods then add water and freeze outside overnight. Watch iridescent ice structures emerge as they thaw.

Winter Writing: Encourage children to trace designs on newly fallen snow. Use wooden spoons, fir branches or pinecones as tools.

Down, but not out: Try adding used Christmas trees to your Messy Materials Area. Children will build forts, design their own pathways and explore trees from multiple perspectives.

Please comment below and share your ideas with Robyn and our entire Certified Nature Explore Classroom network.