3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)

Looking for ways to get outside and explore nature during the cold winter months? You’re in the right place! Today I’m sharing three easy ways to explore nature when winter comes around.

Better yet, I’ve also got a FREE Winter Scavenger Hunt Printable to share with you!

3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)

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I know winter looks different for each of us. In fact, most of the time, even when it’s cold it doesn’t look very wintry in my corner of the world. Even so, we’ve been heading outside, exploring what’s around us, and finding winter inspiration in lots of places.

One of those places of inspiration for us is When Winter Comes, a lovely picture book by Nancy Van Laan and Susan Gaber.

When Winter Comes is a great picture book to enjoy in winter, but it also encourages lots of nature discussion and discovery.

It follows a family who heads outside to explore during the first snow of the season. While outside, they wander around, observe, and discuss what happens to the flowers, insects, birds, rodents, and other animals as they cope with the harsh winter conditions.

How to Explore Nature When Winter Comes

One great takeaway from When Winter Comes is the simple reminder that exploring nature in winter doesn’t have to be fussy or complicated. There’s really so much to see and learn when we become familiar with our winter surroundings.

Here are some tips to keep in mind for exploring nature in winter:

  1. Pay attention to the animals around you. Whether you’ve got birds to watch, squirrels scurrying around, or other animals in your sight, observing how animals cope with winter can be really interesting and can spur on all kinds of learning.
  2. Use the winter landscape to your advantage. The bare deciduous trees and sparse shrubbery makes it easier to observe things you often miss in other seasons.
  3. Look up! By simply spending a few minutes outside each day, you can study clouds, chart the moon in the winter months, and even learn about the constellations that are visible in the winter sky.
3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)

Our Nature Walks & A Nature-Inspired Winter Scavenger Hunt

Also worth noting, snow is nice, but there’s plenty to see in winter without it. Don’t think for a moment that no snow means no winter nature study!

We find all kinds of interesting things to talk about on our not-so snowy walks. We usually spot pine cones of all sizes, several types of moss, and plenty of bright colors.

3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)

We also use our winter nature walks to talk about the differences in deciduous and evergreen trees, mushrooms, and lichen. These are all plentiful in our area, so our time outside affords many opportunities to compare what’s in front of us to what we’ve seen previously.

*Winter Scavenger Hunt Printable*

Now that you’ve got an idea of what a winter nature walk is like for us, I invite you to do the same with your kiddos.

*Free Winter Scavenger Hunt Download!*

Not sure what to look for on your winter walk? Use this Winter Scavenger Hunt to guide you.


You may not spot all of the items on this nature hunt printable, but you should be able to find most of them. I included items that are commonly found even if you’re like us and don’t see snow too often.

3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)

Also, while this scavenger hunt was inspired by When Winter Comes, there are tons of other fantastic winter nature books. If you’re looking for some additional reading ideas to go with your winter scavenger hunt, see my list of children’s books about seasons or take a look at the following books:

Nature Book Club Monthly Linkup

It’s winter for our Nature Book Club and this month’s focus is winter wildlife. In addition to my winter nature hunt, I’m excited to share these book-inspired nature learning activities with you! Let’s take a look:

January Theme: Winter Wildlife

3 Simple Ways to Explore Nature When Winter Comes (+ FREE Printable Winter Scavenger Hunt!)