STEM Pipeline Blog / December 2, 2022
Winter Fun and Learning @ the Chippewa Nature Center
Winter is perfect for fun and learning!
When the chill of winter comes, many of us dream of curling up on the couch with a hot beverage. However, if there are children in your life, you know that they have no such desire and their energy soon becomes uncontainable. With a little creativity, winter can be a fun and engaging season for everyone, and you can offer activities to engage the young engineers, artists, and scientists in your circle!
Science in Winter
The weather and wonder of winter provide a rich landscape for children’s natural curiosity. Embrace their questions and energy by providing tools and time for them to explore the winter world. Offer cups of hot and cold water or ice, space on the kitchen counter or in the freezer for snow balls, pots and pans to pack full of snow, and tools for shaping or breaking ice (you might want to include safety glasses). You can lead children through structured experiments but they are naturally curious and inclined to experiment on their own. Children get the most out of the experience by taking the lead and guiding their own play with you along for support and fun. Through playing with tools and the winter weather, children can learn about states of mater, principles of physics, and more.
Building is also a great winter activity. Whether you’re working on a snowperson, a snow fort, a unique sculpture, or a bunker for a snowball fight, there are so many lessons to be learned. As you’re playing along, encourage children to ask questions and try different ways of doing things. If they get to the stage of the snowperson building where they need to place the center snowball on the bottom one, instead of just lifting it up for them, help them problem solve how to accomplish that task. You might be surprised when you end up digging supplies out to build a ramp or a lever is employed to lift the ball. If the wall of the fort keeps collapsing, help them brainstorm ways to make it stay and then try them out. Trial and error are key parts of the learning process, so encourage them to try a solution even if your experience as an adult tells you it won’t work.
Winter is also a fantastic time to encourage children to explore their artistic side. Grab a stick, a dead flower stem, or a fallen pine bough and use it to draw, write, or make patterns on the snow. Play a game of Pictionary or see if you can fit the whole alphabet along the snow-covered sidewalk. If you want to add a little color to the world, provide liquid water color or fruit and veggie juices and paint using brushes or spray bottles. Consider making sun-catchers by placing natural materials such as berries, pine cones, twigs, and old flower heads in muffin tins or plastic bowls, filling them with water, and letting them freeze outdoors. There are a multitude of ways to get creative outdoors during the winter months.
Need help getting started?
If these all sound like great ideas, but you need a hand getting started, or you’re looking for new ways to engage children outdoors, check out the programs and resources available at Chippewa Nature Center. Twice a month on Sunday afternoons, volunteer families host Nature Play! at The Woods Nature Play Area at Chippewa Nature Center. During this free program, children and caregivers are encouraged to play and explore themed activities. A variety of other free programs and activities are offered at Chippewa Nature Center throughout the winter months – check out the calendar for details. You can also stop by the Visitor Center from 8am-5pm Monday through Saturday and 12pm-5pm Sunday to chat with a naturalist and choose your own adventure at Chippewa Nature Center.
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