Kids are observers and notice everything around them. When the seasons change, they recognize things outside are different.
Take this opportunity to teach a lesson about seasons. In winter, as the ground freezes or becomes covered with snow, tell your child that there are four seasons: winter, spring, summer and fall. Explain that things die off in winter and prepare to “rest” in the cold weather until spring arrives.
As you may know, children learn through their senses by looking, touching, tasting, smelling and hearing. Nature provides an array of learning opportunities as the seasons change. As the changes occur, it is the perfect time to allow children to explore through their senses outside.
In winter particularly, children can feel that the temperature is cooler or cold outside. Loving adults must help children recognize that they need to dress for the weather by putting on hats, mittens and jackets. In some climates, children must put on snow pants and boots. When your child is suited up, go outside to explore.
Here are some lesson ideas to aid you in season-related learning:
- As children are outside experiencing winter, look at the different types of trees. Can you find some with no leaves? Do you see trees that are green? Explain that some trees lose their leaves while others keep their pine needles. Tell or ask your child what color the trees are. If desired, you can go online or to the library to find more information on trees.
- Also when you are outside, look for icicles. Explain that the ice is made when water gets very cold and freezes to form a solid. Getting back to the senses lessons, allow your child to hold the icicle, look at it closely and smell it. We advise you NOT to taste it since you don’t know what liquid has formed the ice. There also could be some road salt in the ice. (If you want to taste it, try the ice cubes you made in your freezer).
- To further enhance this lesson, bring your icicle inside and watch what happens as the ice warms up. Show that water has two forms- solid and liquid. (We will save the condensation lesson for later!)
- While you are outside, look around in the trees and find nests. What animals might live in these nests? Talk about this with your child.
- To attract the birds, consider putting bread crumbs out in your yard. Have your child help tear up the bread or fill up your bird feeder, if you have one. Tell the child what birds eat. Watch to see if birds come and enjoy a snack in your yard. When the birds show up, discuss their size, shapes and/ or colors. You could also count how many come. If you can identify the types, share these with your child- for instance, that is a blue jay, a large red cardinal and a small brown sparrow.
- When it snows, take the opportunity to learn about the snowflakes. Start by freezing a piece of black paper in your freezer. As soon as the snow begins to fall, take this paper outside and catch snowflakes. If you would like you can even catch a few on your tongue. Bring the paper in right away and look at the snowflakes. Use a magnifying glass to inspect the different shapes and sizes. Remember, no two snowflakes are alike. Explain this uniqueness to your child.
Enjoy your week learning about the seasons, winter and snow!