Here in Australia we are in our first month of winter. For some parents it is that time of the year when you may be feeling a little reluctant to get outdoors with the kids. I personally prefer the warmer months myself and wrap myself up in the last days of summer hoping to carry some of the sunshine into winter with me. But there is just so much going on in the outdoors that you won't see in the middle of summer and many kids will miss these experiences if we don't provide the opportunity to explore. So pop on the gumboots and some warm waterproof clothing, a scarf, gloves and a warm hat...get into your yard or a nearby park...and lets explore!
Different types of fungus may be growing in the grass, on a tree or in wood mulch as ours is here. They can be really interesting to view at worm level. They are often beautiful but some can be poisonous, so do point out that out to your child if they are old enough to understand.
Moss is beautiful. I love to see moss in our garden. You may need to search for moss. It is often found in damp and shaded places and there are literally thousands of species. Allow your child to feel and explore moss to experience the textures and discuss what they see and feel.
Nuts and seeds are ever present in nature and they can be found at different stages throughout the year. If you find some dry ones in your yard collect a few and place them in a basket for further exploration. We use ours for open ended play and display on our back verandah. This basket of Banskia pods lives in our garden under a rose bush.
During a winter frost ice sometimes forms on our ponds and this can be an exciting discovery for children...even our bigger kids love the discovery of one of the ponds being icy! Ice is a great learning experience for children and you can extend the discovery indoors making ice plates! Cover a plate with a few flowers and leaves, pour over enough water to cover the plants pieces and freeze. Once frozen you can remove the icy disc and pop it on a suitable tray for discovery and play.
Exploring your environment can be a completely free or frugal experience for your children and one that might just provide a lifetime of self discovery and interest in nature. If our children learn more about the environment and just how unique, often fragile and beautiful it is, then they may care more about looking after it. What do you think?
Please share your ideas. Do you have a favourite place to visit in the cooler months, an outdoor activity or experience that only the winter months provide? What's going on in your park or garden in the winter...what animals are about or hiding away from the cold?