Celebrating the seasons is a wonderful way to help your child develop a relationship with nature, enjoy the outdoors, and build memories as a family. As the days become shorter, it may take some special inspiration to get outside, but there are still many wonderful things we can do together through art, storytelling, and play to enjoy the season. Here are some ideas for winter fun that will give your well-being a boost and spark joy in your family.
Connect with Nature
- Make garden ice decorations: Your child will have fun as a scientist as they experiment with ice and the melting process. Check out this short video from We Be Kids for instructions on making your own ice decorations.
- Make an edible holiday tree for wildlife: Your yard can be a sanctuary for birds and a wonderful place to observe wildlife this winter. Create your own edible ornaments and decorate an outdoor holiday tree!
Collect and Create
- Collect nature’s treasures such as pine boughs, pinecones, mistletoe, and acorns to make your own wreath, ornaments or table top decorations! You can buy straw wreath bases at local garden shops. You can also make a simple wreath using cardboard as a base.
- Bring in the warm and festive scents of the season by making Pomadores. Use cloves to press into oranges (these can be pokey, so your child may want to wear gardening gloves to do this).
Storytelling and Play
What happens to the sunlight at this time of year? How do the animals adapt as the days shorten and snow comes? Storytelling and play are wonderful ways to explore these concepts and connect with the rhythm of the seasons.
Use loose parts to tell your own winter story. Here is an example of a Waldorf story, Winter Warmth, told as a stop-motion animation. You can create your own winter stories through play using items from nature, such as pine clippings, sticks, and stones, as well as small treasures from your home. You could make your own characters from corks, fabric scraps, stones, pinecones, or any other treasures found in nature or at home. Play with your child and notice the stories that you create together!
Listen to a podcast! Super Great Kids Stories have wonderful seasonal stories. Why Evergreens Keep Their Leaves in Winter and Father Frost and the Star Child are a few of our favorites from Super Great Kids Stories.
Take a moment to turn off the lights and notice the darkness. You may want to go for a night walk to notice the winter night (or afternoon!) sky. Snuggle up by a fire or candles to share stories. You can make your own lanterns as well to bring a warm glow into your home. You can use any paper materials or dried leaves to make a decoupage lantern on a glass jar.
Celebrating the Winter Season in Early Childhood at School
Taking a walk around our Early Childhood center, you can hear and see children’s questions and ideas about this special time of year. As we are guided by the children’s interests, our center is an expression of their unique explorations, thoughts, and inquiries.
“Where do the animals go in winter?”
“What happened to all of the insects?”
“Everything is resting in the winter.”
Many children are enjoying collecting ice or putting water outdoors to freeze in unique shapes overnight. Children are engaged in ice experimentation with mixed media such as paint or salt and observations of the freezing and melting process. The forest is a source of inspiration, sparking curiosity and deep thinking as the children observe, interact and share their wonderings. The children are in the forest each week, feeling the seasons change as they notice the plants die away, mushrooms come and go and trees become bare. As frost and snow come, the children follow animal tracks and look for other animal clues. They investigate and explore as they dig under the snow and leaves looking for signs of life. Back in a classroom, we see sticks from the forest that the children have decided need to be shortened in order to build with them or bring them home. Some children use a woodworking table as they are supported in learning to saw wood. Others use wood to build a home.
What do you do in your family to embrace the winter season? Take time to reflect and have a conversation with people in your world, big or little, about how you spark light and joy at this time of the year!
If you would like to share ideas or find out more about connecting with your child through nature exploration, storytelling, and play, feel free to reach out! firstname.lastname@example.org Catlin Gaensler is the EC Story Integrationist at AISB. She brings over 20 years of early childhood education, arts, and outdoor learning to her perspective.