The kids are bored with their new toys, and they're starting to pick on each other. The cat just broke another ornament. Your mother-in-law is re-washing the pan you just washed. Your good holiday cheer and patience is wearing thin. How about a change of scenery?
Christmas break is a great time to take the kids outside and teach them about nature. It may be cold, snowy or muddy, but there's still lots to see and learn outside in winter! We've created a winter nature scavenger hunt, available to download for free on our website. With this list, even a short walk around the block can become an exciting adventure.
Before you go, be sure to check out our Winter Activities board on Pinterest for some great ideas on winter fun. For example, you'll find a winter suncatcher project.
CWC’s Dobbins’ Woods Preserve in Ashville is a great place for a fun winter nature hike with the whole family.
As you walk, have the kids collect things they find interesting, or things that are green, etc. Then, when you get home, place the items in a pie tin, fill it with water, place a string hanging out of the tin and freeze it. You'll end up with a great winter suncatcher to hang outside to remember your nature walk and the things you saw and learned.
Take along a field guide and see how many birds, trees or footprints you can identify. Look for winter insects. Take photos while you walk, then make a family photo book or scrapbook when you get home.
We love encouraging kids to play outside. It helps to develop an appreciation of nature and, hopefully, a desire to protect it as they grow older. That's why our fall coloring contest included prizes like snow shoe rentals from Evergreen Outfitters, a fishing pole from Hogan's Hut and a nature walk with CWC Conservationists. (Winners also received a play pass from Bounce A Lot Playland). We had a great response to our contest we received more than 100 entries! Each of these kids colored a picture that explained how they could protect their watershed. We'd like to congratulate our winners in the three age groups: 4-year-old Olivia G., 6-year-old Mallory D., and 9-year-old Nathan L.
CWC has many open-to-the-public nature preserves throughout the county that are great places to take a family walk, have a scavenger hunt, go geocaching and play in the snow. Visit our website at chautauquawatershed.org and click on Winter Activities for a list of our easy-access preserves and fun things to do outdoors!
So turn off the Xbox, tablets and smartphones, and head outside with the children in your life. You don't have to be an outdoor expert to instill a love of nature in a child, and you may even learn a thing or two along the way!
The Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy is a local nonprofit land trust and watershed education organization that works to protect water quality through the conservation of lands that store, filter and deliver clean water to the county's lakes, streams and wells. The CWC promotes healthy watershed practices and offers technical assistance and land consultations to landowners through its Healthy Landscaping-Healthy Waters Program. For more information or to sign up for CWC's e-news club, visit chautauquawatershed.org or Facebook.com/chautauquawatershed.