"In our homeschool, winter is much more than a season; it is its own curriculum resource."
- Happy Homeschool Adventures
As the temperature drops and we experience our first light dusting of snow, I am inspired to share with you this awesome Winter Bucket List! If you're looking for a resource to help you create a manageable rhythm and set achievable homeschool goals this winter while also encouraging a connection with nature, this post is for you.
We enjoy all of the activities on this list during this exciting and chilly season of our homeschool year. It gives us plenty of downtime in between for rest and spontaneous activity. As a result, we think it's the perfect resource for folx wanting to be in tune with the rhythm of the seasons while sidestepping any overwhelming homeschool commitments.
What is a Winter Bucket List?
A Winter Bucket List is a list of activities or tasks to complete before the season is over. Rather than giving you an exhaustive list of items, I thought it would be more helpful to provide 12 meaningful experiences for your homeschool. This gives your kids the ability to accomplish about one item per week on average over the course of the season without getting weighed down by too many activities.
Of course, your kids can complete the activities as close together or in whatever order they prefer. We started our list with the Winter Solstice since it's right around the corner and it kicks off the season. However, this is a very flexible list as you'll see and that's why we like it.
What is the Winter Solstice?
The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year. It occurs every year between December 20-23 for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere when the Earth is tilted on its axis in such a way that we are experiencing less sunlight. As a matter of fact, you will notice the sun is positioned lowest in the sky on this day.
Not sure exactly how that works or how to teach it in your homeschool? Not a problem. We've got that covered in #2: Reason for the Seasons. This is an awesome and relevant activity for any season or day of the year so it's no problem if your kids choose a different activity on this day. You can always circle back to it when they show interest.
Why Celebrate Winter in Homeschool?
Celebrating winter is a great way to nurture a healthy Homeschool Rhythm for your family. As a matter of fact, we've noticed we tend to follow a pretty consistent rhythm that fluctuates with the seasons. Being mindful of our rhythm has helped me over the years to plan our homeschool activities accordingly. We hope you find this useful as you develop or maintain a homeschool rhythm that works for your family.
12 Winter Bucket List Activities for Homeschool
1. Celebrate with Winter Solstice Traditions
Why not celebrate winter with a party? Sharpen those Practical Life skills and enjoy a few laughs along the way while making some tasty treats for your family. Don't forget the animals too! Winter can be just as significant to them (see Activity #5) as it is to us, if not more. The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice has a couple great ideas for wildlife treats to add to your Winter Bucket List.
I've always been a fan of the peanut butter pinecones rolled in birdseed. I was a Brownie for a hot minute in second grade before it became a conflict with my soccer schedule. Hanging these homemade bird feeders and watching the birds enjoy them was my favorite activity during that brief stint with the Girl Scouts. It's a real pleasure seeing our kids excitedly participate in the same nature gift-giving experience.
2. Demonstrate the Reason for the Seasons
We like to use this Waseca Biomes Seasons Mat, Celebration Sun, Continent Globe, and the Parts of the Biome Readers for demonstrating the Earth's rotation on its axis and revolution around the Sun. The Seasons Mat and Celebration Sun each come with a guide.
The Seasons Mat guide walks you through the lesson step-by-step, including an explanation of what is happening during each season. Seasons cards and labels, along with the Celebration Sun, help reinforce content for kids while they make their way around the mat, examining each scene. The Biome Reader of the same name is a great extension to this work.
You can also combine the Seasons Mat with the Celebration Sun again for the Birthday Celebration outlined in the Celebration Sun guide and with several variations included. This is a popular ritual in Montessori environments and our kids love it. As a matter of fact, we even held a Sun Celebration for our son's first birthday during our Fifth Great Lesson. We get a lot of use out of this lovely mat.
Get $15 off your first Waseca Biomes purchase.
3. Identify Constellations with Kids
We use these Mirus Toys Constellation Tiles during our Astronomy studies. We have the Animals in the Sky (set of 6) and 4 custom tiles (Ursa Major, Draco, Orion, and Canis Major) for a total of 10 constellation tiles. This gives us a nice set of circumpolar (visible year-round) and seasonal constellations for our location in the Northern Hemisphere.
Our kids like to experiment with the distance between the flashlight and the constellation tile, as well as the distance between the tile and the wall. The resulting changes in size and appearance of the constellation visible on the wall make for great conversation.
They also like to compare the tiles to their constellation books and what they observe in the night sky. Here, our son is looking at What We See in the Stars.
Stars are really fascinating and these Constellation Tiles are really helpful for extending the stargazing fun during the day or on stormy nights when visibility is an issue. If you struggle with light pollution in your area, these are a must-have.
4. Learn About the Phases of the Moon
If you haven't explored the Phases of the Moon in your homeschool, you can join in the fun using this Mirus Toys Moon Phases Puzzle - Moon Calendar. You don't need to have a strong understanding of the moon or Astronomy to introduce this puzzle to your kids.
This Moon Phases Puzzle comes with a very thorough guide and pictures for several lessons related to the moon. These lessons include how to introduce it to kids of various ages or levels of understanding, vocabulary, what causes the phases of the moon, eclipses, several types of demonstrations, and lesson extensions. It's very easy to follow and we found that our kids became more and more interested and inquisitive as they continued to work with it.
What makes this puzzle so special is that it's also a Moon Calendar. As a result, your kids have the opportunity to work with it everyday. We find that this continuous hands-on work reinforces the knowledge gained during lessons and follow-up experiences. In the picture above, our kids are using it to determine what phase the moon will be in on the Winter Solstice.
5. Track Animals in Winter
We use the Hibernate, Adapt, or Migrate Activity from the Winter Forest Unit Bundle by Raising Dinos to learn about animals in winter. This bundle was part of the Forest Schooling Mega Bundle Winter Edition. If you missed out on the Mega Bundle, you can still purchase this Winter Forest Unit separately using the link. It covers Science, Math, and Literacy. This is a really fun way for kids to sort animal behavior in winter.
For this Winter Bucket List, we're using the printables along with these really fun Mirus Toys Animal Tracks Play Doh Stampers to explore how different animal tracks look.
We extend the learning with books such as Over and Under the Snow, Atlas of Ocean Adventures, Natural World, and The Sockeye Mother. We looked at salmon migration in more detail in our Fourth Great Lesson.
You can find our complete list of Zoology Books in our shop.
6. Explore Weather and the Water Cycle
We use this Waseca Biomes Water Cycle Mat and We Are Water Protectors for our History of Earth for Kids: The Montessori Second Great Lesson. The mat provides a hands-on experience of weather and the water cycle for kids. We Are Water Protectors is an excellent book to pair with this activity for introducing the concept of stewardship.
Our kids love matching the arrows to the map features and talking about different types of clouds. This activity usually ends up being a great tool for prompting discussion about related health, ecology, and climate topics.
This is another great example of an activity your kids can enjoy year round. In winter, they can also extend the learning with snowflakes, icicles, and phases of water activities.
Save $15 on your first Waseca Biomes purchase here.
7. Enjoy Winter Watercolor Nature Journaling
We use our watercolor paints and nature journals year round. Encouraging kids to paint through the seasons in a journal allows them to look back and reflect on what they were experiencing and then painting as a result. You may find that the seasonal changes are noticeable even to the youngest of artists. This winter bucket list activity is also perfect year round.
8. Conduct an Astronomy Experiment
Our kids love experiments. This is Experiment #25: Spinner and our oldest two used some household items and the Animals of the World Measuring Tape to create a weighted disk on an axis made of string. Afterwards, they practiced swinging it around a 'sun' and observing the path of the disk. They observed that the path of the disk was very difficult to control unless the disk itself was spinning while it revolved around the sun. They each took turns being the 'sun'.
This is a great experiment for continuing the work of the Seasons Mat mentioned above (#2: Reason for the Seasons). Once kids understand how the Earth is moving around the Sun, they can begin to explore what conditions are necessary for that to occur. That leads them to an appreciation of the elegance of that system.
Also, it's just a lot of fun to to experiment. Our kids picked the experiment, determined what should be documented, and we shared the task of recording while they created the disk.
Save $15 on your first Waseca Biomes purchase here.
9. Explore Nature During Winter's Late Afternoons or Evenings
Take some time to observe plants and animals, weather, wind, temperature, etc. during the late afternoons and evenings of winter. Nature can appear and feel very different while the sun is setting during these cold winter months. Just as we aim to observe and experience the changes of the seasons, we find the same level of importance lies in our understanding of day and night. In our experience, nature education should take place in all seasons and at various times.
Whether that means taking an evening stroll or finding a comfortable sit spot, you can seek out whatever experiences work best for your family. We have excellent Nature Education resources in our Montessori Primary Curriculum and Montessori Elementary Curriculum. We also really enjoy Curious Kids Nature Guide.
10. Tell Stories as a Winter Bucket List Activity
Whether your homeschool is making up their own stories, borrowing them from a good book, or tuning in to an entertaining podcast for kids, there are tons of ways to enjoy stories. You can gather around a fire, or snuggle up on the couch and enjoy a magical experience together.
We do independent reading and family read alouds in our home, especially in the winter. We find that this winter bucket list activity is a great bonding experience for everyone.
11. Create Something for a Friend or Loved One
We usually complete at least one handwork project every winter. We created this Hanging Heart Pillow for preschool a couple years back. This winter bucket list activity was a lot of fun and it comes with a free printable of materials and instructions. We've also created Three Part Card holders using the same felt and sewing materials we used to create the heart pillow.
If you're looking for a wintery Art project, Kelly from Wings, Worms, and Wonder has a really cool Solstice Snowflakes activity.
12. Make a Donation
As we bundle up for icy temperatures and sift through holiday music selections, we are mindful of how impactful resources such as food, clothing, toys, or cash can be for folx. It's always a good time of year for donations but we like to be more intentional with our homeschool lessons during the fall and winter months.
If you're interested, Britt Hawthorne has some excellent suggestions for talking to children about housing.
Winter Bucket List Conclusion
We hope you've enjoyed our 12 Winter Bucket List Activities. Don't forget to download this FREE 12 Winter Bucket List Activities for Homeschool printable! The Winter Bucket List checklist, combined with the printable Materials List below, is everything you need to enjoy the winter season in a meaningful way and without the overwhelm of an exhaustive list of activities.
If you decide to do the 12 Winter Bucket List Activities, let us know how it went!
More Seasons Activities and Resources
- Montessori Continent Study of Antarctica
- Penguin Art for Kids
- Easy Baking for Kids Using a Visual Recipe
- Kids Cooking Ethiopian Sambusas: A Printable Recipe with Pictures
Thanks for stopping by!
- Winter Solstice Party Food
- The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice
- What We See in the Stars
- Over and Under the Snow
- Atlas of Ocean Adventures
- Natural World
- The Sockeye Mother
- We Are Water Protectors
- Astronomy for Every Kid
- Curious Kids Nature Guide
- Change Sings
- Tumble Science Podcast for Kids
- Mirus Toys Constellation Tiles
- Mirus Toys Moon Phases Puzzle – Moon Calendar
- Mirus Toys Animal Track Play Doh Stampers
- Waseca Biomes Seasons Mat
- Waseca Biomes Celebration Sun
- Waseca Biomes Continent Globe
- Waseca Biomes Parts of the Biome Readers
- Waseca Biomes Water Cycle Mat
- Waseca Biomes Animals of the World Measuring Tape
- Watercolor Paints
- Watercolor Journal
- Play Doh
- Hanging Heart Pillow printable
- Spanish Moon Phases Three Part Cards printable
- Bilingual Spanish Nature Cards printable
- Winter Forest Unit Bundle printable
- Scientific Method Package printable
- Solstice Snowflakes
- Cooking utensils
- Celebrate winter with Winter Solstice Traditions. Make food for your family, community, and/or wildlife.
- Demonstrate the Reason for the Seasons using the Seasons Mat, Celebration Sun, Continent Globe, and Parts of the Biome Readers.
- Identify Constellations with Kids using Constellation Tiles and What We See in the Stars.
- Learn About the Phases of the Moon using Moon Phases Puzzle and Bilingual Language materials.
- Track Animals in Winter using Winter Forest Unit Bundle, Animal Tracks Play Doh Stampers, Play Doh and Zoology books.
- Explore Weather and the Water Cycle using Water Cycle Mat and We Are Water Protectors.
- Enjoy Winter Watercolor Nature Journaling using watercolor paints, watercolor paper, and paintbrushes.
- Conduct an Astronomy Experiment with Astronomy for Every Kid, Animals of the World Measuring Tape, and Scientific Method Package printable.
- Explore Nature in Late Afternoon or Evening with Curious Kids Nature Guide.
- Tell Stories with imagination, Change Sings, or Tumble Science Podcast for Kids.
- Create Something for a Friend or Loved One with Hanging Heart Pillow printable or Solstice Snowflakes activity.
- Make a Donation to your favorite cause.
Full Lesson Info and Pictures at: https://happyhomeschooladventures.com/winter-bucket-list
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