Cheap Fun: Take it outside
by Amy Brayfield
When the weather’s nice, it’s easy to find excuses to stroll through the neighborhood or play in the backyard, but when the weather gets cold, I tend to put the latch on the back door and keep it there. It occurred to me, though, that by shutting the door on the outside, I’m also shutting the door on one of the great free sources of fun, exercise and art supplies. So this winter, I’m breaking out the hats and scarves to get outside — and finding ways to bring the outdoors in when it’s really too cold to do more than sprint to the mailbox.
Here are some of our favorite cold weather nature activities — maybe they’ll inspire you, too.
My daughter has been keeping a nature journal for years, where she sketches pictures and writes descriptions of birds, butterflies, plants, animals and insects in our yard. The animals and plants that stick around for the cold weather are a totally different group from the ones who hang out in the backyard when it’s warm outside. My daughter loves when we can correctly identify a bird from her sketch and description of it, and we all have fun seeing what different things we notice. When it’s really cold, we sometimes do this through the window, but it’s really more fun when you can use all five senses.
Feeding the birds is a big activity around our house. We regularly smear pinecones with peanut butter, roll them in birdseed and hang them out for the birds to enjoy. (One of our neighbors turns their Christmas tree into a bird-feeding tree every January, putting it out in the yard hung with bird feeders. Genius!) Even our 16-month-old can help with the rolling, though we do have to watch him to minimize birdseed consumption.