Grandparents Teach, too

Children interacting with snow is great fun

Sabin, Davis, Hetrick, Anderegg, Macalady, Walker, Darling, and Katers

“There’s just something beautiful about walking on snow that nobody else has walked on.”

Carol Rifka Brunt

Winter trees

Being in a snowstorm is not fun, but afterwards when the sun shines, exploring places where children have not walked before is great fun. Look for evergreens. They offer a variety of sights, sounds and smells. Search for cones on the ground and some that are still on the trees. Without mittens find some sap on the cones and rub it on your fingers. Is there a smell and taste?

Children can rub needles together and smell. Do different kinds of conifers like pines, cedar, and spruce trees smell different? Don’t worry about the sticky fingers. A little butter rubbed on the fingers and wiped with a cloth will take it off.

Show the kids that white pines have five leaves (needles) and red pines have two in a cluster.

You can cozy up to a tree and look for whorls of branches. Count the whorls going up the tree to estimate the age of evergreen trees. Notice all of the needles under the trees. Children may think that they do not lose their needles. Point out that is not true.

Most conifers lose about one third of their needles every fall. Larch, bald cypress and dawn redwood are called deciduous conifers because they lose all needles every year.

You can talk about how the trees can give shelter to animals. It is also a quiet a cozy spot for a snack.

Winter critters

There might be some some tracks you can identify around the tree. Children can learn more about the animal species that stick around the winter months by making pine cone- feeders for them. Tie a string around a pine cone. Slather a mixture of peanut butter, cornmeal, and oats with a spoon. Roll the coated pinecone in a small bag of birdseed until completely covered. Then hang the pinecone feeders in a tree that can be easily watched. Children can keep a notebook and draw pictures of what visits the feeders. They can check library books for more information.

Freezing bubbles

Blowing bubbles is not only for summer. If the temperature is below freezing outside with no wind, put some soap bubble solution in the freezer for up to 30 minutes. With patience, children can blow some bubbles outside and watch as they crystalize in the three layers before their eyes. Some people stir in a little sugar before placing in the freezer.

The bubbles will also roll around on dry pavement instead of popping immediately. It is a great way to talk about the science of molecules slowing down and freezing from liquids to a solid and crystals.

For more see grandparentsteachtoo.blogspot.com and wnmufm.org/Learning Through the Seasons.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Grandparents Teach, Too is a non-profit organization of elementary and preschool teachers from Marquette, Michigan. The writers include: Jan Sabin, Mary Davis, Jean Hetrick, Cheryl Anderegg, Esther Macalady, Colleen Walker, Fran Darling, and Iris Katers. Their mission since 2009 is to help parents, grandparents, and other caregivers of young children provide fun activities to help prepare young children for school and a life long love of learning. They are supported by Great Start, Parent Awareness of Michigan, the U.P. Association for the Education of Young Children, Northern Michigan School of Education, the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum and the Northern Michigan University Center for Economic Education.