The Joy of Winter

Here in the UK, it is now turning cold and the first snows are falling. It’s tantalisingly close to our house – I’ve seen cars going by with snow on the roof – but so far we’ve only had frost.

I love the snow for the way that it transforms the whole landscape, deadening noise and turning the black branches of trees into sparkling sculptures.

Of course, one of the most magical moments is when children experience snow for the first time. It is worth all the time getting on hats and coats and gloves and boots just to go out to feel this strange substance floating down from the sky.

I was waiting to collect my son one day from Reception class, just as it started to snow. Without exception, every child came out of the door, looked up and stuck out their tongue to catch a snowflake. It was such an instinctive thing for the children to do!

Even if it doesn’t snow this week, there are so many wonderful things to do outdoors in the winter:

  • collecting sticks, fir cones, evergreen branches
  • jumping in puddles, squishing in mud and finding frozen puddles
  • ‘painting’ by dripping liquid paint onto the wet paving stones and watching the paint spread and move
  • having boat races in angled pieces of guttering
  • spotting different berries, hips and haws on the bushes and trees
  • lighting a fire and cooking over it
  • looking out for bats and owls at dusk
  • using strings of lights, torches and lamps to light up the area after dark

Because it gets dark so early, there are plenty more opportunities to explore light and dark indoors, for example:

  • have a shadow puppet show using a sheet and backlit with a strong torch
    project stars, planets or shapes onto the ceiling
  • create a magical land by lighting the room just with strings of lights and draped fabric
  • paint using glow in the dark paints and then view the paintings with the lights off
  • for the more adventurous, use a black light torch that makes colours and white gleam out in the dark

Stories such as ‘Owl Babies’ by Martin Waddell and ‘Whatever Next!’ by Jill Murphy can start conversations about being afraid of the dark and the types of adventures that can be had once the moon is out.

For older children, there are opportunities to discuss the planets and stars. In the UK at this time, you may be able to see Saturn from dusk in the Southwest sky and possibly Mercury low in the sky after sunset.

Even if it isn’t winter in your part of the world – what are your favourite winter activities?

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