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7 Fun Winter Nature Study Activities To Help Cure Cabin Fever

When it comes to winter, many people opt to stay indoors unless venturing out is necessary. However, nature has some pretty cool things to offer in winter, so it might be worth your time to go out and explore. Here are a few winter nature study activities that you can do with your kids on those days when you just need a break from cabin fever.

These winter nature activities are perfect for those days when you just need a break from cabin fever.

photo by Amy Law

Winter Nature Study Activities

Measure the Snow

If it snows during winter where you live, you and your kids could track how much snowfall your area gets during the season. All you would need is a ruler and notebook to record the measurements. You never know, it might become an annual tradition. It also might be interesting to be able to look back over the years to see which winters were the snowiest. Enjoy our Snow Homeschool Nature Study!

Make Snow Cones

When I was young, we would wait for the very first snowfall and as soon as there was a good pile of snow on the ground, we would go outside to collect some to make authentic snow cones. We weren’t fancy, so we would just pour a little fruit juice on top of scoops of freshly fallen snow, then devour it like it was the best treat in the world. Another option would be to make snow ice cream!

Study the Stars

Do your kids love watching the night sky? Bundle them up in some warm clothes, grab coats and blankets, load up on hot chocolate, and head outside to gaze at the stars. I personally think that winter is the best time to go star-gazing with kids. Why? Because it gets dark super early, so you can go out and watch the stars, but still have the kids in bed at their regular bedtime.

Look up at the nighttime sky and try to find the winter constellations, like Gemini, Orion, Taurus, Pegasus, and Cassiopeia. You can also look for bright stars like Betelgeuse, Polaris, and Rigel. Take it a step further by telling them the stories behind these celestial bodies. Enjoy our Spectacular Night Sky Nature Studies!

Here is how to make a snowman bird feeder in your own backyard. This is a fun winter idea for your homeschool nature study and feathered friends.


Although a lot of birds fly south for the winter, not all do. Try bird-watching to see which local birds stick it out in your area. Print out this Bird of the Day printable to keep track. Or, if you live in the South, see which ones come for an annual visit. You could even make homemade bird feeders to coax them into your yard, like this Snowman Bird Feeder!

Nature Journal

If you spend a lot of time outdoors, why not help your kids start a nature journal. They could draw pictures of things they see, scrapbooks some items, take pictures, or even just talk about the things that they experience during the winter months.

For younger students, we have a printable snowflake journal coming for you in the Preschool section of Homeschool Nature Study Membership. It’s easy to assemble and just their size.

Animal Tracks

Winter can be a great time to get an idea of the types of animals that live in your area. Especially when it snows. Walk around your backyard and neighborhood to see if you notice any animal footprints. Work with your kids to try to identify which animals they belong to. You might be surprised to learn about the various creatures that are all around you. Enjoy these winter nature study activities with Animal Tracks Nature Hunt: Mammals Homeschool Study!

Winter-Themed Books

And when it’s time to warm up back inside, having a book basket of winter-related books helps continue the conversation. Here are a few of our favorite winter books:

Snowflake Bentley: A Winter Snowflake Study – This winter homeschool snowflake study combines the beauty of winter with the fascinating life of Snowflake Bentley.

Stopping By The Woods on a Snowy Evening – we love this book and these tea time homeschool ideas!

And more wintry ideas here:

These winter nature activities are perfect for those days when you just need a break from cabin fever.

The Outdoor Hour Challenges Bring The Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool!

For even more homeschool nature study ideas for all seasons, join us in Homeschool Nature Study membership! You’ll receive new ideas each and every week that require little or no prep – all bringing the Handbook of Nature Study to life in your homeschool!

Be inspired. Be encouraged. Get outdoors!

By Maureen Spell, a long-time contributor to the Outdoor Hour Challenges. Maureen helps Christian mompreneurs operate their business from a place of joy, purpose, and excellence because they are clear on how their business is serving their family and others. As a homeschool mom, she believes success at home AND business without the mom-guilt, stress and burn-out is possible! Outside of work, she loves having good conversations over a hot chai or GT Gingerberry kombucha and spending time with her husband and seven children. Visit her at

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Simple Ways to Study Nature in Your Homeschool This Winter

There are so many simple ways to study nature in your homeschool this winter! From nature walks to indoor studies, use this guide as a starting point for making memories together.

Simple Ways to Study Nature in Your Homeschool This Winter

There are so many simple ways to study nature in your homeschool this winter! From nature walks to indoor studies, use this guide as a starting point for making memories together.
Photos by Amy Law

Take a First Day of Winter Nature Walk

Getting outside for a walk on the first day of winter may be one of the most refreshing activities you could do with your children. The temperatures drop and we huddle inside more and more, especially on the shortest day of the year!

“The most obvious work of nature has been the preparation for winter. A wide range of observation should be used to impress the truth: the trees and shrubs have lost their leaves, and stored the provisions for spring in the buds and branches; many softer plants die down to the ground, storing the food in roots, others in bulbs, and still others in tubers. The question may be asked for each plant that comes up for observation – How did it get ready for winter?”

Nature Study by Months
There are so many simple ways to study nature in your homeschool this winter! From nature walks to indoor studies, use this guide as a starting point for making memories together.

1. Take a walk this week and spend a few minutes looking at the plants in your yard and neighborhood. Look for bushes and trees without leaves, stopping to note that these plants are many times not dead but just waiting for spring to begin a new growth cycle. Don’t go into too much detail but allow time for quiet observation.

2. After your outdoor time, spend a few minutes discussing how plants get ready for winter. You can bring out the following points:

  • Some plants (Annuals) have seeds that survive the winter even when the plant does not.
  • Other plants (Perennials) have roots that survive the winter and start to grow again in the spring.
  • Deciduous trees shed their leaves, conserve food, and have buds that are waiting until spring to open and grow.

3. Make a nature journal entry recording anything of interest from your outdoor time.

Alternately, make plans to get outside for a brisk nature walk and then to follow up with a nature journal page recording all of the interesting things you found while outside.

animal tracks in winter

Animals in Winter Homeschool Nature Study

“The same thought should be applied to the animals. Most of the birds have gone south because of the cold, and also because their food is gone; the frogs, turtles, and toads are going to sleep all winter down in the mud or earth below the frost; the caterpillars are waiting in their cocoons for the warm spring sunshine; most of the other insects have laid their eggs for the next season, while a few of them have crawled into warm places to wait; the squirrels have gathered a store of nuts, and will soon be asleep in the old tree-trunks; the cats dogs, horses, and cows have grown a fresh coat of hair and fur. Nothing is forgotten; each is ready in its own best way.”

Nature Study by Months

Ideas to Prepare for Outdoor Study:

This will be another easy week of nature study that will blend easily with other Outdoor Hour Challenges. Take the opportunity to spend some time outdoors noticing the way that animals prepare for winter. Make this one an investigation!

You might prepare with a little discussion about the various animals and birds that live in your local area. Some ideas to get you started:

  • migrating or visiting birds
  • squirrels gathering nuts
  • insects in cocoons
  • changes in color of various animals as they prepare for the white of the snow time
  • You can also read this article: Animals in Winter.
snow homeschool nature study
Snow Outdoor Hour Challenge included in Homeschool Nature Study membership!

Get Outside!

Bundle up and spend fifteen minutes outdoors enjoying the December world. A good nature walk is pleasurable for everyone and allows you and your children to appreciate God’s beautiful creation. The best times I can remember with my children are the times we just took it slow and easy, looking for the little things that most people pass by.

Look for signs of animals and think about ways they prepare for winter. You can also make bird and animal observations, noting their behavior. How are they staying warm? finding food? sheltering from the weather?

Encourage everyone to use all of their senses on this walk:

  • Did they see something colorful or unusual?
  • How does the air feel on your skin?
  • Is there a particular fragrance to the air?
  • Can you listen carefully for a minute or two to distinguish any particular sounds?

Another idea is to ask your children to find differences in the landscape, comparing your neighborhood habitat on this winter day to what they remember about the first day of summer. This is a little harder and you may need to help them get started with a few of your own observations.

More Outdoor Hour Challenge Ideas:

  • Turn over a rock and see what’s underneath.
  • Look up in the branches of the trees and see if you can find any birds or other critters.
  • Sit quietly by the edge of a pond or stream and see what comes along.
  • Breathe the air and enjoy the day.
indoor winter nature study ideas for your homeschool

Follow Up Indoor Winter Nature Study Activities:

  • After your outdoor time allow time for a nature journal entry. Use the notebook page or the journal idea from the December Newsletter to record your observations of anything that your child finds interesting. I also have a December World Notebook Page included Homechool Nature Study Membership or you can use one of the journaling pages included in the free membership sample, below.
  • Maybe this week you could use a different art medium in your journal…many of us get stuck in a rut. Offer colored pencils, thin markers, watercolors, or pastels.

Paint a Winter Frosty Leaf in Chalk Pastels

Nana of You ARE an ARTiST offers a sample of her winter art lessons series in You ARE an ARTiST Complete Clubhouse membership. Suggested supplies: dark blue construction paper and leaf chalk pastel colors. Baby wipes or slightly damp paper towel for easy clean up.

  • You could also try offering modeling clay as an alternative to drawing the subject this week and then take a photo of the finished product to include in the nature journal.
  • Additional Link: Animals in Winter lapbook – free printable

Not all nature study needs to happen outdoors during the winter season! There are so many lovely ideas for you in Taking Your Winter Nature Study Indoors.

Wonderful Winter Homeschool Nature Study Topics

In Homeschool Nature Study membership, each challenge gives you step by step instructions to get started with simple weekly nature study ideas…even in the middle of winter! This may just be what your homeschool week needs to get you through the cold winter days of January, February, and March.

Each challenge is written for you to complete in your own neighborhood or backyard and you can adapt each challenge to fit your local area with suggestions I offer with each topic. Don’t be discouraged if you look at the list of topics and think you don’t have that particular subject close at hand. I will guide you through finding a replacement to still offer you a weekly dose of nature study.

The winter homeschool nature study challenges were written for families with children of all ages. In addition to the regular challenge, I have bumped up the nature study for older or more experienced children, complete with their own set of notebooking pages. You will be able to use these studies with your whole family and pull it out from year to year and have a nature study resource for all levels.

Outdoor Hour Challenges for Winter – Bring the Handbook of Nature Study to Life in Your Homeschool!

Membership includes all you need for using the Handbook of Nature Study and enjoying learning together as a family. See a sample membership Winter Homeschool Nature Study by signing up with the form, below.

Membership includes all of this plus MORE!

  • notebook pages and coloring pages
  • Upper Level notebook pages for advanced or experienced students
  • Charlotte Mason style exam questions
  • Complete list of supplies needed
  • Detailed instructions for each challenge, including links and printables
  • Nature journal suggestions
  • Alternate ideas to adapt the challenges to your local area

Members also enjoy:

  • Bird in Snow video art lesson
  • First Day of Winter Walk and Observations Page
  • December World Notebook Page
  • Winter Weather Observations Journal Page
  • Window Observations Journal Page
  • December Words and Poem Journal Page

Special Outdoor Hour Challenges

  • Snow Study!
  • Red and Green Outdoor Hour Challenge
  • Moon and Moon Names
  • Study on Magnets and the Compass

And more challenges from all of the courses pictured above!

There are so many simple ways to study nature in your homeschool this winter! From nature walks to indoor studies, use this guide as a starting point for making memories together.

Get Your Free Sample Of Membership: Winter Homeschool Nature Study Download

Get Your Membership Sample of Winter Homeschool Nature Study!

Subscribe to get FREE Membership Sample of Winter Homeschool Nature Study.

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    Most importantly, when you get outside for your winter homeschool nature study, take along a good attitude and leave yourself open to whatever the experience brings. Allow your children to direct you to things they find interesting and then share in their excitement.

    Tricia and her family fell in love with the Handbook of Nature Study and the accompanying Outdoor Hour Challenges early in their homeschooling. The simplicity and ease of the weekly outdoor hour challenges brought joy to their homeschool and opened their eyes to the world right out their own back door! She shares the art and heart of homeschooling at You ARE an ARTiST and Your Best Homeschool plus her favorite curricula at The Curriculum Choice.

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    Winter Bird Homeschool Nature Study: Your Resident Winter Birds

    Winter bird-watching can be rewarding! Even when the landscape is covered in snow or ice or mud, there are always birds that will come to visit if you create a little bird-friendly habitat with some seeds, suet, and freshwater. You can observe birds right from your window if the weather isn’t friendly. Or, if you have the right conditions, take a bird walk in a nearby wood. Winter is an amazing time to stroll your neighborhood looking for resident or visiting birds.

    OHC Winter Bird Study – Looking at your resident winter birds.

    This Week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge: Winter Bird Study

    In addition to just enjoying your local birds, this week’s Outdoor Hour Challenge helps you to learn a little bit about bird migration using the information in the Handbook of Nature Study and a couple of online resources. Click over to the original challenge and see how easy this nature study can be for your family.

    I’m enjoying Project Feederwatch which helps keep me motivated to look for birds at my own feeder. Use this challenge as a way to motivate your family to look for birds during the winter months.

    Winter Bird Nature Study Handbook of Nature Study pages 35-37

    Make sure to note the links and additional resources suggested for your tree study.

    Check the Handbook of Nature Study index for the bird you observe this week or use the bird tab at the top of my website to see if there is an archived Outdoor Hour Challenge for you to use in your study.

    Winter Bird Nature Study Handbook of Nature Study pages 35-37

    Additional Ideas For Homeschool Bird Study

    Download and save the Cornell Feeder Bird coloring book. This book has many of the most common birds you will see in your backyard and it makes a perfect complement to your family’s bird nature study.

    Earlier this year I wrote about the book Birds, Nests, and Eggs as part of the Nature Book Club. You may wish to click over and read that entry and use the printables available in that entry for additional study.

    OHC Winter Bird Study – Looking at your resident winter birds.

    Please note this challenge is found in the Winter Series course available to our members. Log into your membership to download the Handbook of Nature Study Winter curriculum. There is a custom notebook page for this challenge included in the nature curriculum.

    You can find even more winter bird nature study ideas in the Learning About Birds curriculum from the Outdoor Hour Challenge. This nature curriculum is available in membership.

    Join The Homeschool Nature Study Membership

    Our nature members have access to all the curriculum books, an interactive calendar and a brand new, weekly Outdoor Hour Challenge post each week.

    An image showing the full collection of Nature Study courses

    Connect With Our Homeschool Community On Social Media

    Did you enjoy this Outdoor Hour Challenge? Be sure to tag us on Instagram @outdoorhourchallenge and use the hashtag #outdoorhourchallenge so we can see and comment!

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    Winter Homeschool Nature Study with Art and Music Appreciation

    This winter homeschool nature study curriculum contains all the nature study Outdoor Hour Challenges, custom notebook pages for nature study as well as art and music appreciation, and three months’ worth of art and music appreciation.

    Writing this winter homeschool nature study curriculum has helped us appreciate the winter season more than we ever have before. Part of our enthusiasm has come from spending more time outdoors bundled up with our families exploring the winter landscape.

    Blankets of snow for your winter homeschool nature study!
    Image by Amy Law

    Winter changes our normal view of things by emptying the trees of their leaves and covering the ground in thin or thick blankets of snow. The colors of winter are more vivid and the sky seems more brilliantly blue at times with its puffs of white clouds dotting the horizon.

    The season of cold can bring surprising nature study subjects your way and if you are open and aware of these opportunities, you will soon find yourself loving or at least appreciating this winter season.

    Our sincere wish is that this book will help your family find some joy in winter homeschool nature study. In addition to nature study, this curriculum offers you a chance to include some winter artist study and music appreciation as well. Give everything a chance and see what happens!

    With much joy,

    Homeschool Nature Study Team, Home of the Outdoor Hour Challenge

    Winter Homeschool Nature with Art and Music Appreciation is available in membership, along with access to 26+ Outdoor Hour Challenge Homeschool Curriculum and courses, weekly Outdoor Hour Challenges, a monthly nature calendar with daily nature study prompts and more!

    This winter homeschool nature study curriculum contains not only nature study but notebook pages plus three months’ worth of art and music appreciation.
    You ARE an ARTiST Clubhouse members also enjoy this course! Image by Erin Vincent.

    The Winter Homeschool Nature Study for Members Includes:

    You will have a complete plan at your fingertips for your spring nature study, art appreciation, and music study. You will need to have the Handbook of Nature Study in order to complete the nature study challenges. All of the art prints are included in the curriculum and there are links to viewing them online as well.

    • 10 Outdoor Hour Challenges – All the Outdoor Hour Challenges in this curriculum are based on the Handbook of Nature Study and include page numbers and suggested learning observations. More about the Handbook of Nature Study, here.
    • 10 Outdoor Hour Challenge notebook pages and nature journal suggestions.
    • 3 months’ worth of art and music appreciation- 3 composers and 3 artists with links, prints to view, coordinating projects, a coloring page, and notebook pages. More on our sister site and the Homeschool Fine Arts curriculum, here.
    • Links for further enrichment for each Outdoor Hour Challenge, artist study, and composer study.
    • Complete list of resources and instructions to get started with your winter study.
    • Topics Include: winter cattail study, tree study, sky, weather, pine tree, salt study, winter bird, small square study, early spring flower, signs of spring walk
    winter homeschool nature study - snow melting activity
    Image by Amy Law

    Nature Study Outdoor Hour Challenge Homeschool Curriculum Included

    Each challenge has three parts: inside preparation work, outdoor time, and then a follow up activity. You can complete all or part of each challenge as you go along. Each challenge is written so you can adapt it to your own backyard or local area. Use the ideas as a way to get started with simple weekly nature study using the Handbook of Nature Study. Some of the challenges include pages to read from the Discover Nature in Winter book.

    Winter Series Art Appreciation Curriculum Included

    Each month there is a suggested piece of artwork to study with your family. You can view the print on your computer, print out the page from the curriculum, or you can follow the provided link to see the artwork in a larger format. Plans for viewing, studying, and then completing a follow up piece of artwork are included with each painting.

    Music Appreciation Homeschool Curriculum Included

    To enhance your winter nature study, this curriculum includes a suggested piece of music for your family to listen to each month. The plans for each composer include links to biographies, links to listen to the music online, suggestions for CDs to purchase, and plans for completing your music appreciation studies. Each month has a suggested art activity to go along with the musical selection as well.

    We have aimed to keep these challenges and studies as simple as possible with very few additional resources needed.

    This winter homeschool nature study curriculum contains not only nature study but notebook pages plus three months’ worth of art and music appreciation.