Ways to Take Homeschool Outside in Winter

Published:
January 20, 2022

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While you might want to hibernate with the onset of cooler temperatures, it’s good for all of us to head outside instead. Here’s some ideas for taking homeschool outside this winter. The cold weather provides the perfect time to explore the natural world and intentionally change up your standard homeschool schedule. So, while some snow days are perfect for a cup of hot cocoa and a pile of board games, here’s what to do with the kids when you take the homeschool day outside and prevent cabin fever.

A group of people that are standing in the snow - text homeschool outside in winter

Nature Study

Your kids can enjoy an excellent time of outdoor learning with a winter nature study. Engage their natural passionate curiosity about the world around them as you encourage them to head out for some quiet time in the long winter months. This change of scenery provides just the perfect backdrop for noticing the changing physical world in the winter.

You can arm them with a good book on identifying animal tracks in the snow or the shape of tree branches when the leaves are all gone. Help them learn how to measure the inches of snow in the backyard as they keep track of what they learn in a nature journal. Or you can have your kids include their nature study adventures using notebooking when they come back inside from their nature walks.

Here are some unit study links for your winter nature studies:

Scavenger Hunt

The perfect way to engage even your younger kids in nature study is to add a scavenger hunt element in for a little fun.

There is so much fun in scavenger hunts! Add to that that this time of year, homeschool moms might not have much time to find extra activities for the kids to do on a snowy day. Well, if you grab this free winter scavenger hunt printable, then you’ll have no prep needed for a fun way to explore the great outdoors.

What can your kids search for outside?

  • Something that usually has color but doesn’t right now
  • Something that looks dead but will come back to life in the spring
  • A plant or part of a plant that is dead and won’t come back to life in the spring
  • Something that keeps its green color throughout the winter
  • A seed or something that holds seeds
  • Something different that flies
  • Precipitation or evidence of precipitation
  • Something frozen (or liquid too cold to swim in!)
  • Tracks (human or animal)
  • Something that breathes

Want some more scavenger hunt ideas? Here’s a bunch!

Field Trips for Winter Homeschool Outside

What’s on your winter bucket list? Where can you go for some winter homeschool fun and learning? You can find some fun activities in your own town that you’ve never tried.

Always check with your local library for their winter schedule. Many will offer a homeschool program or winter activities that you can join. Many include library story time for the little ones.

Local parks are a great place to visit. Or, if you’re experiencing some cold days, head inside to a local conservatory or botanical garden. Is there an aquarium nearby? Maybe a museum? These are all great ideas for field trips during the winter weather season.

How about finding an indoor pool and spending the day there? It’s the right time to head inside during bad weather. Plus, if public schools are still in session, your kids might be the only ones swimming. And that’s a wonderful thing!

You can homeschool outside by visiting some national parks, local monuments or government buildings. If the weather conditions are not too cold, take a tour of a Civil War battlefield within driving distance. Or, if the colder weather prohibits an outdoor field trip, you could always visit a local factory or business.

Your creative kids will love getting a peak into an art or pottery studio. Maybe they can even paint a canvas or sculpt with clay.

So, even if it’s a snow day, you can have some great educational fun by taking winter homeschool outside with a couple great field trips.

Photography

The snowy backdrop outside provides a great way for your older kids and teens to work on their photography skills. Even with just a smartphone in hand, your teen can capture some unique beauty this time of year. Consider simple pine cones and how detailed they look close up. Photographing winter scenes and items is a fun outdoor activity for all ages. Help your teens capture their favorite trees throughout all the seasons for a unique year-long project. Taking photos is one of the best ways to slow down outside and just enjoy the beauty of the season.

Encourage your teens on a photography learning journey with some simple tips that will improve their skills. They can learn how to take more professional photos by focusing on things like focus, exposure, editing, contrast, shadows, and more. Encouraging your older kids to head outside with their smartphone is a great opportunity for them to learn a new skill.

Science Experiments

The winter weather, and especially snow and ice, provide the best time to make plans for science experiments outside.

There are many free resources and printables for studying ice and snow. Use the winter time to dive into science topics like:

  • water play with ice shapes
  • burning ice science experiment
  • kids fizzing snow activity
  • ice melting science and art experiment
  • snow volcano winter science experiment

You can find links and instructions for all the science experiment ideas.

Winter Sports

Finally, the best way to take homeschool outside in the winter is to enjoy winter sports! Whether your family is into skiing or ice skating or playing ice hockey, there’s plenty of outdoor activities even for the non-athletic. Encourage your kids to build forts and have snowball fights. All of these activities are great for physical education in your homeschool. Plus, there’s just something about being wiped out from playing outside all day. It will help everyone sleep well.

What if you don’t have a foot of snow on the ground to play in? You could always head to an indoor play center for the day. Once again, if your local public schools are still in session, the play center may be mostly empty. Or you might meet some new local homeschool families. Either way, your kids will get a good dose of exercise and you can relax and read and homeschooling book or work on some lesson plans.

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