Just because the temperatures drop and the leaves have fallen doesn’t mean it’s time to put nature study into hibernation. In fact, winter can be one of the most enjoyable times of the year to get outside and see what’s happening. There’s more there than meets the eye upon first glance!
The following list of books, apps, activities, and unit studies can be used as a Winter Nature unit study, an addition to your current science curriculum, or just for ideas for fun nature walks. Choose a different focus once a week, go to the library and gather books, make it as hands-on as you can. Have fun!
Kid Crafts, Printables and Activities
The Great Backyard Bird Count — February 12-15, 2021
Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the Great Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time.
Since then, more than 100,000 people of all ages and walks of life have joined the four-day count each February to create an annual snapshot of the distribution and abundance of birds. Download GBBC Instructions US/Canada Bird Lists
Winter Wonders (Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett)
Tremendous Trees (Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett)
Creation Camouflage (Unit Studies by Amanda Bennett)
Coping with the Cold (NaturExplorers)
Snow and Ice (NaturExplorers)
Constant Conifers (NaturExplorers)
Animal Signs (NaturExplorers)
Maple Syrup Unit Study and Lapbook (Homeschool Share)
Handbook of Nature Study by Anna Comstock A matchless handbook for decades, this classic work has been the natural history bible for countless teachers and others who seek information about their environment. Written originally for those elementary school teachers who knew little of common plants and animals, and even less about the earth beneath their feet and the skies overhead, this book is for the most part as valid and helpful today as it was when first written in 1911—and revised in the spirit of its authors by a group of naturalists in 1939.
Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin From the time he was a small boy in Vermont, Wilson Bentley saw snowflakes as small miracles. And he determined that one day his camera would capture for others the wonder of the tiny crystal. Bentley’s enthusiasm for photographing snowflakes was often misunderstood in his time, but his patience and determination revealed two important truths: no two snowflakes are alike; and each one is startlingly beautiful. His story is gracefully told and brought to life in lovely woodcuts, giving children insight into a soul who had not only a scientist’s vision and perseverance but a clear passion for the wonders of nature. Snowflake Bentley won the 1999 Caldecott Medal.
Snowflakes in Photographs by W. A. Bentley For almost a century, W. A. Bentley caught and photographed thousands of snowflakes in his workshop at Jericho, Vermont, and made available to scientists and art instructors samples of his remarkable work. His painstakingly prepared images were remarkable revelations of nature’s diversity in uniformity: no two snowflakes are exactly alike, but all are based on a common hexagon.
National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America by Jonathan Alderfer Featuring 100 species of birds from coast to coast this colorful guide helps kids identify and understand birds. The National Geographic Kids Bird Guide of North America will be both accessible and tons of fun. Fifty of the country’s most popular birds will be laid out in stunning two-page spreads that will include information such as their range, the sounds they make, and the food they like to eat. Each profile will also include a cool or weird fun fact, and a feature called “A Closer Look,” which digs deeper into once aspect of the bird’s life (eating habits, birdsongs, etc.). Each profile will also display a fact box with the bird’s scientific name, weight, length, and wingspan.
The Burgess Bird Book for Children by Thornton Burgess While “interviewing” Slaty the Junco, Redwing the Blackbird, Melody the Wood Thrush, Spooky the Screech Owl, and dozens of other common birds, our guides, Peter Rabbit and saucy Jenny Wren — and, of course, the reader — learn about their physical appearances, eating and nesting habits, and songs and calls. Over eighty years after its first publication, the book remains noteworthy and valuable for its extraordinarily successful blend of information and entertainment.
Scats and Tracks of North America: A Field Guide To The Signs Of Nearly 150 Wildlife Species by James Halfpenny This nifty reference packs a wallop of information. Scats & Tracks of North America covers nearly 150 of the continent’s most common or characteristic species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians north of Mexico. It also includes rare species of particular interest or significance, such as the jaguarundi, the polar bear, and the wolverine. Easy to carry in pack or pocket, this user-friendly guide is at the ready for frequent consultation in the field.
A Walk in the Boreal Forest by Rebecca Johnson An overview of the plant and animal life of the boreal forest. A map of North America early in the book delineates the location of this biome, which stretches across much of Canada and dips into limited areas of the northern United States. Johnson explains the interrelated nature of life in any biome and introduces a variety of birds and other animals that live together in this one. Excellent full-color photographs capture the beauty of the huge spruce, pine, and other trees as well as smaller plants. Close-ups of animals from tiny deer mice to the rapacious wolverine accompany brief introductions to many forest inhabitants. The author also discusses the climate, particularly how various animals deal with the lengthy winter.
The Maple Syrup Book by Janet Eagleson In this richly illustrated book, the authors explore every aspect of maple syrup. They relate Native legends surrounding its discovery and explain its importance in the pioneer diet. They cover the sugar maple’s exalted status in the maple tree family, and reveal why maple sap is still one of nature’s great mysteries.
Merlin Bird ID (iOS)
Window Nature Study (Kansas School Naturalist, 1967)
Backyard Birds (Kansas School Naturalist, 1996)
Free Nature Study Journal
Encourage your children to keep a nature journal with this free nature study printable for all four seasons. Includes scavenger hunts, draw and write pages, backyard bird count, and more! To receive your copy, enter your email below.