Summary ꙳ Objectives
▹ Winter is here, and if for the regions away from the tropics it often equates to harshness and cold, it is also a period for nature to pause and slow down. It's a time where Life sleeps in dens, in buds and hidden places...
Throughout history, humans have observed this seasonal milestone and created spiritual and cultural traditions to celebrate the rebirth of sunlight after the darkest period of the year. For us, it is a time to reflect, gather together and celebrate this important phase in Nature's cycle...
Type » Lesson
Level » Eco-Artsy & Naturalist
When? » Winter
Where? » Indoors & Outdoors
Time » 2hrs+
Themes & Skills
Celebration ⋆ Focus ⋆ Systems thinking ⋆ Natural processes/cycles ⋆ Nature benefits ⋆ Temperate Regions
"In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer." — Albert Camus
This set of activities is an 'ode' to Winter. It reminds us of the importance of the season both ecologically and culturally. It connects us to its natural beauty and its promises of a warmer future. Happy Winter to all! ツ
Discuss animals and plants adaptation to Winter. For instance, explore:
- the physical and behavioral adaptations of animals such as physical changes (colors, weight), hibernation and migration
- the differences and the cycles of deciduous trees and evergreens
- human inventions to accommodate harsh temperatures (e.g., snowshoes, past and modern clothing)
Seasons follow the cycle of astronomical events marked by solstices and equinoxes. In the Northern Hemisphere, the winter solstice always occurs on or about December 21 and marks the beginning of the winter season. As many people notice, it's the shortest day of the year, featuring the least amount of daylight between sunrise and sunset. Once we pass it, the days slowly start to lengthen. That there are holidays at the time of this astronomical event is no coincidence. Since ancient times, people have celebrated the solstice and observed it with many different cultural and religious traditions...
Discuss with the group what Winter represents, and how each celebrates it. Share your best memories...
Find a quiet area and paint a wheel of the colors that you see or associate with the season. Paint the sky and the tree right next to you. The reflection of the sun on a building or a stone. What are the warmest and coolest hues of your palette?
Get out there and have fun studying the trees around—their bark, twigs, and buds. The buds fully form during fall before the leaves drop off. They are ready to burst in spring. Each tree has a characteristic bud design, which is an invaluable key to identifying trees in winter. Study their shape, their grouping, how they are situated on a twig (opposite, alternate or whorled). Check the scars left by previous leaves (bud and leaf scars), they form very unique patterns as well...
Make a list of 6 or more winter items for your group or yourself to find out there in your city, parks or local forests.
The list is more fun when its items cover all the sensory realm (sound, taste, shape, color...). Print it, grab your journal and pencils, your camera even, and get outside. Forage for those items in pairs or alone.
Each time that you find one of the items, rather than collecting it, take the time to sketch it. Take a snap if it's too cold.
At the end of the hunt, show your sketches and pics to one another. Share which is your favorite and how you find it...
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Here are a few items that we like to include in our winter list (in no specific order):
- a chirping bird
- a circled-shape rock
- the sight of an animal meal
- an acorn
- 3 types of leaves
- a feather
- a piece of ice
- an animal that does not hibernate
- a bud with leaves or flowers tucked inside...
- a pinecone
- a squirrel
- the bitter taste of a pine needle
- the track of an animal in the snow
- 2 different seeds
- a small wildflower
- a chickadee
- a Y-shaped twig
- the hoot of an owl
The internet is full 'Winter nature scavenger hunt' ideas. Explore what's out there and create your own list –The exploration activity alone is fun!
Activity » Winter Craft
Circling back to the first activity and celebrate the season. Gather together (alone is fine too), and create an ornament, or a mobile to add as a decoration somewhere in your house for the time of the winter.
Enjoy the Winter spirit of giving! Think about exchanging your ornament/decoration with someone in your circle, or offer it as a present to someone outside this circle. There is never a better time to give than now/'in the moment'.