6 outdoor activities for wintry weather
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If we think back to our own childhood, many of us remember splashing through puddles, scuffling through leaves, the wonder of a snowflake and the excitement of the wind. Winter offers children unique sensory experiences to increase their knowledge and appreciation of the world around them. Try these ideas from national charity Learning through Landscapes to liven up your winter days.
Winter scavenger hunt
Before a bracing winter walk, write a sheet of natural things to find while you’re outside. Get the children hunting for holly leaves, pine cones and needles, a leaf skeleton, some lichen, different types of bark, and so on. Make it more challenging by being more specific, such as looking for cones bigger or smaller than their thumb.
Make a natural gargoyle
Invest in some clay (some art shops) and before you head out put a small amount of it in a plastic bag to take with you. Once you’re on your walk, ask the children to look out for twigs, leaves, cones and other natural features. Once they’ve gathered a small selection, get them examining trees for natural features that could make part of a gargoyle’s ‘face’. Use the clay to stick their collected objects onto the tree trunk to develop the rest of its features, like eyebrows, eyes, mouth etc. Take a photo with your phone and leave the face for others to enjoy!
Once you come home from a winter walk with pockets full of objects the children have collected, why not make some ice art to hang up outside? Using a range of different-shaped containers, lay a length of string across the top and place your winter object on it at the bottom of the container. Fill the container with twice-boiled and then cooled water (to avoid bubbles), and place it outside overnight or in your freezer. Once frozen, remove your art from its container and decorate a tree in the garden.
Pine cone garlands
Collect a number of fallen pine cones when you’re out and about. Once home, screw a cup hook from a hardware store in the bottom of each one. Using a length of ribbon cut to reach across a window or fireplace, push each hook through the ribbon at regular intervals to make your very own wintry garland to hang. Get the children to decorate with glitter or snowy spray if you like.
Ice egg hunt
For a wintry take on your springtime Easter egg hunt, use a funnel to part fill some party balloons with water. Open the neck to drop in a toy or treat; you might want to add 2-3 teaspoons of food colouring too. Shake the balloons well for a solid effect when frozen, tie the ends and put them in the freezer. After 2-3 days you should be able to cut the balloon away and hide the eggs around the garden – then take the children out to hunt for them. What might hatch? Why not build a nest to collect them in and revisit as they melt?
If you’re lucky enough to get a decent amount of snow to enjoy as a family, nip to your local DIY store for some wireless, battery powered LED lights (they’re usually around £10 for a pack). Back in the garden, mound up some snow into ‘hills’ 2-3ft high, and scoop out two hollows where eyes might be. When it’s getting dark, insert the LEDs into the hollows and turn them on. The effect is amazing, and better still if you can make a few with different coloured bulbs for eyes!
Learning through Landscapes specialises in outdoor learning and play through education. They aim to enable children to connect with nature, be more active, be more engaged with their learning, develop their social skills and have fun.