Yes, your students can go outside and learn all year long, even in winter with snow on the ground. Just before the Christmas break, North Charlestown Community School's 4th graders bundled up and went out to explore the forest in winter.
Here are some of the things the students discovered and learned:
The leaves that are still attached to trees look and feel like they are rolled up - It reminded one student of how she curls up into a ball when she is cold.
A red-backed salamander was awakened from his slumber and found sitting on the snow - curious! He was carefully put back under the leaves.
A clump of multi-colored mammal fur was also found on the snow, right next to some footprints that looked a bit like deer tracks.
The tracks in the snow looked different. Some showed 4 feet in a square next to each other and some showed two in a long line.
Trees that are dormant for the winter store food in their roots and buds waiting for spring to become active again.
Green needles taste like mint or Christmas and are sour and bitter all at once.
A pileated woodpecker was heard and seen visiting a few trees.
Tips and Tricks for Winter Field Studies
DRESS FOR THE WEATHER. Most students do this for recess.
STAY HYDRATED. Drink lots of water before and after. Maybe even have some hot chocolate or tea available during if it is a long time outdoors.
CHECK-IN WITH A THUMBMOMETER! On a scale from fist to five, how comfortable are you? Fist is "I can't feel my toes and want to go inside now." and Five is "I could do this all day!" Make sure to check-in with anyone who is lower than 3 and see if you can make them more comfortable.
BE ACTIVE OUTSIDE. Plan time for journaling before and after the experience. Move around outside.
There are many topics you could focus on including winter survival (plants and animals), tracking, shelter building, and tree identification. Check out the Curriculum Spotlight below for more ideas.
If you would like to learn more about field studies or citizen science projects you can do with your students in your schoolyard this winter, please contact, Dawn.