Outdoor Education in Winter Basics

Don’t let the snow and colder temperatures deter you from taking your students outside. There is still so much to learn outdoors, even when the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall. Learning can be taken outdoors in any weather with a bit of preparation. Students love exploring in the snow and learning about nature, even in the winter. Winter is a great time for outdoor education games and exploring their learning space from a different perspective. Keep reading to find out some of the different considerations for outdoor education in the winter. 

Preparation for Winter Outdoor Education is Key​

Making sure that students are dressed for the weather and prepared to be outdoors is exceptionally important. Students will enjoy their time outside more and will be more comfortable if they are dressed properly for the weather. Having students come prepared for the weather may require some teaching in advance about how to dress for winter. You may also have to educate parents on what is needed for outdoor education, especially during the winter. Having proper clothing and gear for outdoor activities can be a barrier to participation. However, there are ways that you can ensure that everyone has warm clothing for outdoor education.

Additionally, you will want to ensure that you are aware of some of the safety considerations for your area for outdoor education. If you are not familiar with the space take some time to get to know it and understand some of the potential hazards. Ensure that you are prepared for winter safety for outdoor education before you head outside. 

3 children laying in the snow outside

Keep Your Outdoor Education Classes Active​

With the colder temperatures, you are going to want to keep your students active. Unless your temperatures are extremely mild, activities that involve a lot of sitting or standing around can cause students to become chilled.

Some ideas to get your kids moving include:

  • Find activities that involve walking around to study an area or multiple different objects in an area
  • Go for nature walks or community walks and incorporate discussion into your walks, rather than having a sit-down talk
  • Create ways to turn your lessons into games
  • Find games that reinforce the topics you are studying
  • Create activities that involve students sharing their learning through building with the snow
  • Have students “become the animal” and act out how the animal might interact with the eco-system (works best with younger students!)

Let the Magic of Winter Inspire Your Outdoor Education Lesson​

You can’t study snowflakes in the summer. You also would have trouble building snowpeople in the fall. Use the materials that nature has given you as a way to inspire your lessons. Take some time to reverse-engineer your lesson and find some ways that outdoor learning can fit with your curriculum. Strategies for integrating your curriculum into outdoor education can be found here.

Studying snowflakes can fit in with so many different units and themes. For example, snowflakes can fit in to your science curriculum with weather, seasonal changes, structure, or phases of matter just to name a few. Why not study motion or energy using toboggans. You don’t just need to stick with your science curriculum either. Building snow people can fit in with structures, but also can be a form of artistic expression. Get creative and see how you can make your winter outdoor education fit in with your curriculum. Here are 11 winter outdoor education activities to get you started.

two children playing outside

Have Fun During Your Winter Outdoor Education Time​

Even if you can’t find a way to make things fit with your curriculum, you can use winter as a time to create a love of being outdoors through making your outdoor education time fun and exciting. Take some time away from the heavy academic work and allow your students to just have fun. Build snow structures, take out some toboggans, or just let your kids play. You can even try to tie some curricular objects to these activities if you want. Provide your students with the gift of spending time in nature and reaping the benefits of being outdoors. 

There are so many benefits for your students from spending time in nature including mental and physical health benefits as well as an increased connection to nature. You will probably even notice improved focus and concentration once you move on to the more academic subjects indoors. More information can be found here:

Now Go Get Outside And Have Some Winter Fun​

No matter how you choose to take your kids outside, don’t let the winter weather slow you down. Give your students the mental and physical health benefits of being outdoors. Allow them to build up their love of time outdoors and time spent in nature, even in the winter months. With a bit of advanced preparation, creative planning, and an adventurous spirit you can create fun lessons that get your kids outdoors.

Check Out Some Great Winter Activities…

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