Teaching Outdoors in Winter
Winter Lesson Resources
Animal Track Resources:
Animal Track Identification Sheet (can be used to create a track ID card on a lanyard)
Animal Tracks for Lanyard (example 2)
Animal Track ID: Gait Patterns
MN DNR Animal Track Activity Pages
Animal Tracking Tutorial (Resource for Educators by The Old Naturalist)
Three Rivers Park District: Animal Tracking
Three Rivers Park District: Tracking Tunnel Activity
Animal Tracking (Beetles Focus Lesson)
What Lives Here? (Beetles Lesson)
Tracks & Signs Lesson by Wargo Nature Center
Mysterious Animal Signs by Wolf Ridge
More Lesson/Activity Plans:
Wildlife Scene Investigation (2nd-3rd grade) Curriculum, Journal page, Leader Guidelines
Students will learn techniques biologists use to better understand the wildlife found in the refuge. Using wildlife tracks, students will gather and interpret wildlife data through observation and measuring.
Wildlife Walkers (Kindergarten) Curriculum, Journal Page, Leader Guidelines
Students learn and then practice walking the 4 most common wildlife walking patterns. They discover how an animal’s body shape relates to its walking pattern. A trail hike will challenge students to locate and follow animals tracks and learn to recognize other common wildlife signs.
Wolf Ridge: Animal Tracks Video
Gait, Stride, Straddle Defined, shows a Naturalist demonstrating how animals move
Jeffers Foundation ECO Time
Greeting: Whose Track is That?
Activity: Walk This Way (Prints)
News and Announcement: Tracks are Everywhere
The Greatest of Feet (MN DNR Young Naturalist): Story and Teachers Guide
Animal Adaptations for Surviving Winter
Resources for Teachers
Animals that adapt picture cards
Animals that hibernate picture cards
Step Outside Guide: Getting Ready for Winter (lesson plans and activities)
Survivor: Minnesota Winter (K-2nd Grade): Curriculum, Journal Page, Leader Guidelines
Students will explore a variety of techniques Minnesota animals use to cope with harsh winter conditions. Students will participate in an outdoor hike to search for signs of these winter survival techniques.
Migration Matters (4th – 5th Grade) Curriculum, Journal page, A Bird's Solution Data sheet, A Bird's Solution Data sheet with answers, Group Leader Guidelines
Students will learn how and why scientists collect data about individual bird species and bird migration patterns by participating in a bird migration game, a bird banding demonstration, and a bird hike with binoculars.
Resources for Students
Winter Wildlife Signs Checklist - from Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge
Winter Wildlife Signs Checklist (a variation of the checklist above)
How Minnesota Animals Prepare for Winter - Video featuring Carly, an Interpretive Naturalist at Jay Cooke State Park
Wild Things in Winter (MN DNR Young Naturalist Article): Story, Teachers Guide, Study Questions
Splendid Fliers (MN DNR Young Naturalist Article): Story, Teachers Guide, Study Questions
Jeffers Foundation ECO Time:
Greeting: Honk, Hiss, Ribbit: What’s Migrating? (Activity Cards)
Activity: Migration Racin’ (Activity Cards)
News and Announcements: Animal Migration
Snow & Snowflakes
Snowflake Study Resources
The following resources are from the snow crystals website
Snowflake Type - Formation by Temperature chart
Use black construction paper, felt or winter clothing (mittens, jacket) to catch the snowflakes. View using a magnifying glass.
Use I Notice, I wonder, It Reminds me of Exploration Routine (from Beetles)
Snow Activity Ideas
Andy Goldworthy: Snow and Ice Art
Build a Quinzee - Here's how
Snow Sculpting Tips - How to build with snow
Jeffers Foundation ECO Time
Painting Ice/Snow Tips
Use liquid water color paint in spray bottles. Food coloring will stain clothes and hands.
Keep the bottles in a cooler to keep them from freezing. Put a warm glass jar in the cooler to keep it warmer inside.
Water color paint trays or tempera paint cakes/water color discs work well to paint ice.
Ice for Building & Exploring
Freeze water in rinsed out milk cartons to create ice bricks
Freeze water in cupcake trays or cookie molds for loose parts play
Freeze objects in ice. Students have to figure out how to get the objects out
Freeze natural materials into the ice shapes to create ice art
Plants in Winter
Tree Shapes in Winter Activity
Three Rivers Park District: Meet a Tree Activity
How Big is that Tree (Mn DNR Young Naturalist: Story, Teachers Guide, Study Questions
Sugar from Trees (MN DNR Young Naturalist): Story, Teachers Guide
Winter Tree Math (2nd-3rd Grade) Curriculum, Journal page, Leader Guidelines
Students will use a variety of methods to measure the size of trees. The activities will help them to understand why scientists have established standardized measuring techniques for data collection. Through a hands-on activity, students will use forestry equipment and techniques used to collect tree data.
Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge Lessons
Birding Basics (3rd-6th Grade)
Curriculum, Journal page , & Group Leader Guidelines
Students will learn about birds and some techniques for bird watching and identification. Students will learn the proper way to use binoculars and will practice their birding skills on a hike at the Refuge.
Video links for Birding Basics:
Book Reading: “About Birds” (click for audio described version)
How to be a Bird Detective (click for audio described version)
Birds, Beaks, & Adaptations (2nd-6th Grade)
Curriculum, Journal page, & Group Leader Guidelines
Students will investigate bird adaptations first-hand by rotating through a series of feeding stations. Using a tool that simulates one style of bird beak, they will learn how adaptations connect birds to certain habitats and behaviors. Students will then take binoculars on a hike to observe other bird adaptations.
Let's Go Snowshoeing (MN DNR Young Naturalist): Story and Teachers Guide
Check out the Snowshoeing Curriculum from Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It includes journal pages to go along with your adventure.