11 Easy Winter Outdoor Education Activities

two kids building a snowman outdoors

The cold and snowy weather in winter makes many of us want to head indoors. However, winter can be a time of enjoyment and a chance for everyone to get outside and enjoy the beauty of nature in the winter. There are so many fun and educational ways to get outside and enjoy the outdoors, even in the winter. You can even cover your curriculum while getting outside! Sometimes all you need is some inspiration to motivate you to get outside. Here are some great winter outdoor education activities to get you and your class outside and enjoying the winter wonderland. 

11 Winter Outdoor Education Activities ​

1. Nature Journals​

A winter nature journal can provide your students with structure and inspiration for enjoying nature outdoors. Nature journals are a great place to start if you are unsure of what to do during outdoor education. There are 2 different approaches to nature journals:

  • You can buy blank notebooks for your students to record their observations in. Students may need prompts to get them started on what to record or write about.
  • You can purchase a pre-made nature journal from Teachers Pay Teachers or Amazon. 

2. Nature Walk​

Explore your outdoor education space from a different perspective. Nature walks or even a walk in your community can allow students to observe and record the changes that occur during winter. You can stop along the way to discuss student’s observations. You may also choose to incorporate other ways of recording information, such as having students photograph their observations or map the space. Nature walks are an easy (and sometimes no prep) winter outdoor education activity. A walk is a great way for the students to get to know their space and develop a connection to it.

3. Show What You Know in Snow​

Get creative with how your students share their learning. Instead of having students write or draw their understanding of different topics, why not have them build it out of snow? This works especially well in learning about different cycles, such as seasonal cycles or lifecycles or other topics that you can create models of. For example, I have had students recreate both the water cycle and the rock cycle out of snow. Students can also demonstrate different processes using snow. If you need a paper assessment, you can always have the students sketch or write about what they built afterwards.

squirrel in winter

4. Learn About Habitats in Winter​

Why not use your outdoor education time to learn about local habitats in winter? This is an excellent time to prompt students to ask questions about how animals survive in winter. Students can gain an understanding of the different ways that animals adapt to the winter as well as the challenges of winter. Younger students may even enjoy taking on the perspective of different winter animals and being that animal. 

Check out some great winter habitat study ideas here!

5. Study the Snowflakes​

Children love looking at snowflakes. After a fresh snow fall take your kids outside with the magnifying glasses and have them study the intricate details and patterns of the snow. If you have black felt or paper it can provide a base for the snowflake for clearer observation. You can use this as a time to teach about the water cycle, phases of matter, crystals, or the weather. Have students make sketches of the snowflakes to record what they have observed. 

Check out some great snowflake study activities!

6. Get Active Outside​

Turn your lessons into physical activity time. Take your students outdoors and get them moving and learning at the same time. The colder weather will make the students want to get up and move to stay warm. Find some ways to incorporate physical activity into your lessons here.

girl feeding a chickadee in winter

7. Feed the Birds​

Study the birds that have stuck around all winter and also lend them a helping hand. Create or buy bird feeders and watch who comes to visit. We created some easy bird feeders by placing bird seed in a pie plate, filling the rest of the plate with water, placing a string in them, then freezing them outside.

8. Learn a New Winter Sport​

Engage your students in outdoor education fun through learning a new winter sport. Many local sporting goods stores and recreation clubs have equipment for rent or even to borrow. Some even have programs where they will come to your school (or you can visit them.) Snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, and so many other sports can motivate students to get outside. Why not inspire your students to try new ways to be active all while being outdoors?

Thinking of trying snowshoeing check out:

9. Let The Winter Landscape Inspire Your Art​

Go for a walk with your students or sit outside and observe. Take note of the colours, textures, and beauty that winter has to offer. Use the winter landscape as inspiration for your next art activity. Why not try to capture the colours of winter or sketch the trees on the cool winter sky? Depending on the weather you may want to do your art indoors. Or you can try doing it outdoors. I have even had students do winter watercolours using the snow as the water to wet their brushes. 

Snow sculpture is another great way to get students to flex their creative muscles. You can give students an object to create or simply let their imaginations take over. Coloured water in spray bottles or squeeze bottles can also add an extra creative dimension to the creations. 

More winter art ideas can be found here!

10. Learn About Structures By Building in the Snow​

Building a snow fort might not seem like an academic pursuit. However, there are so many skills involved in building snow structures. You can even make snow fort building fit in with parts of your curriculum. For example, building a tall wall requires planning and supports. Creating tunnels requires that the snow be hard enough and thick enough. Give your students specific criteria for what you would like them to build and watch them learn and problem-solve. 

11. Just Have Fun​

Simply being outdoors has so many benefits for children. Why not just take your kids outside and have some fun? Spend the afternoon building in the snow or tobogganing. Although it may not be related to your curriculum, your students will be able to reap the physical and mental rewards of being outdoors. They will also build an affinity towards nature and want to spend more time in it. 

kids sledding down a snow hill

Now Get Outside and Try One Of These Winter Outdoor Education Activities!​

Don’t let winter cold stop you from getting your students outside. There are so many ways that you can take your students outside to learn. In addition, your students will get both the physical and mental health benefits of being outdoors. Get creative and find ways that you can get outside with your students this winter. Enjoy some of the winter outdoor education activities with your students and get them outside and having fun.

Remember that preparation is key for your outdoor education activities in the winter. You want to ensure that you are aware of the safety precautions necessary for outdoor education. You will also want to ensure that your students are dressed for outdoor education and prepared to be outdoors. 

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