Winter is now officially here, and our family is already enjoying seeing how the landscape is continuing to change. We have been trying to spend as much time outdoors as we can as our children seem much calmer and happier when we do. Research also shows that spending time in nature has numerous health benefits, including boosting our immunity.
We love going on walks and collecting treasures from nature that we can bring home and use in our play. Going on walks and outdoor adventures is an excellent way for children to learn about the natural world and to observe how plants and animals change throughout the seasons. My eldest son is noticing that many of the trees no longer have any leaves left on the branches, whereas the pine needles do stay on the evergreen trees. This week on our walks, we gathered lots of pine needles, leaves, and pinecones!
My children love playing and creating things with their natural treasures. They especially enjoy putting them in containers filled with water and then freezing them. These ice treasures are entertaining to play with and are a great sensory activity any time of year. Children can have a good time figuring out different ways to make the ice melt both faster as well as more slowly.
It’s always fun to give children containers and utensils (or a mud kitchen) to use with their ice treasures. They can create all sorts of things like tea for a tea party, soup, potions or whatever they like! It’s an enjoyable open-ended activity for using their imaginations to explore and create. I love watching my children working together to make something special!
We hope that you can spend time in nature this week to see what types of natural treasures you can find to expand your enjoyment of winter.
Sabrina Olizar-Smoke is a primary school teacher and helped her school gain awards in outdoor learning, linking the school's science curriculum to outdoor education. Since taking time out from teaching to raise her children, Sabrina has created a website, Play of the Wild to support parents and teachers with learning activities, particularly in the outdoors.