“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1.
By Beth Pinyerd
I visited my son, Gus, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, this Christmas. And yes we had a beautiful white Christmas season with snow. Even though it was very cold to this Alabama gal, my son and I went on field trips to walk his dog Bear and let me see the sights of winter. Gus pointed out many things that he thought would be interesting for young children and families. I gleaned a lot from our walks on what I could share with the readers back in Lee County where we do see snow sometimes. We do feel the cold of winter each year in our region. I picked up some new ideas to share and reviewed some field trip lessons that I have shared in the past.
After the business of seasonal activities, it is so good to settle down into winter learning. I love the way early childhood teachers create a “Winter Wonderland” of learning in their classrooms. “No two snowflakes are alike” is applied in realizing that no two children are alike. Each child is unique in their own way. Teachers do a wonderful job of integrating winter into their reading, language arts, math and science lessons.
The purpose of this article is to pass on to parents, grandparents and caregivers ideas that your young children will truly enjoy. Let’s take a wintertime field trip. Nature’s handiwork can still be observed during its dormant state as well. You can divide your outdoor adventure into four mini field trips. Grab your coat, a pencil and paper to record your findings.
A listening field trip is done simply by walking quietly and listening for:
The wind blowing through trees
Leaves rustling and crunching under foot
A seeing field trip is a lot of fun as you can make several observations:
Shapes of clouds against the majestic blue sky
Colors of nature during the winter
Angles the sun is peeping through
Counting the varieties of animals and birds
Count the many bright stars in the winter sky as well as looking at how the moon changes shape
Comparing what trees retain their leaves and which ones don’t
Observing buds that have not yet opened
Invest in an inexpensive outside thermometer so your children can actually see how the temperature goes down during these winter months.
Your feeling field trip, of course with safety in mind, can include feeling:
Moss on a tree or rock
Soft sand or soil
Rough tree bark
Sun shining on your face
Wind blowing on your face
Prickly pine needles, pine cones and leaves
Your smelling field trip includes:
Fire burning in a fireplace
Cedar trees or wood
The different smells that the wind blows in.
Throwing pieces of bread out to the birds can create a bird sanctuary in your yard. Hours of looking, observing and comparing is a science lesson that could last for several hours. One of my favorite bird feeders is a pine cone feeder. Gently pick up a pine cone, put small spoonfuls of peanut butter in between the small cone leaves and sprinkle bird seeds in the peanut butter. This makes a bird feeder that your child will enjoy all winter. Just hang the pine cone bird feeder by a piece of yarn or string and observe the birds flying in over time. This is an idea that I shared at Christmas as well.
January is National Soup Month. On those icy, rainy, cold, yucky days outside, call all your little chefs to the kitchen. Children can decide what kinds of foods that they would enjoy putting into their soup. I love to read “Stone Soup” by Jan Eliot to my classes year after year. Take a winter field trip to the library to check out this book, then make a delicious crockpot of soup to share the smells and delicious tastes of warm foods. Other children’s favorite winter foods are chili, spaghetti and pizza, in which cooking lessons in the kitchen can teach math lessons on measurements, lessons on health and safe cooking habits, as well as cleanup time.
It may be cold and rainy outside but don’t forget the car picnic. It will be warm and toasty inside your car as children enjoy their favorite foods and visit their favorite sights. Talk to your child about what they like the most about winter. Their observations and insights might surprise you of what they see in God’s beautiful world during this season.