Evergreen trees offer a sensory overload! Through these experiences, children will touch, smell, see, hear, and taste the season of winter. Consider trying these experiences year-round in areas with or without snow.
Doing the Activity
Bundle up and enjoy a stroll through an evergreen forest with your family. Or take a walk through your neighborhood, yard, or a local park.
- Stop and listen to the sounds of winter (e.g., wind or snow under feet).
- Ask: How does our walk sound, smell, or look different from the last time we walked? What is the same?
- Search on the ground for cones. Look up high in the trees for cones still on them. Look at the branches and knobs on deciduous trees. With the leaves gone, these shapes are easier to see.
- Find places that are out of the wind(e.g., close to a building or next to a tree or hedge).
Ask: If you were an animal outside in winter, where would you stay? Search on the ground for tracks and other animal signs.
- Search for animal homes in deciduous trees. Nests and holes should be more visible now. Look for evidence of ways animals survive in winter.
- Lie down under evergreens and look up through the branches. Talk about the visible patterns and experience the way evergreens provide shelter from wind, rain, and snow.
- Look for the whorls of branches on conifers, such as pine, spruce, and fir. Each year, the tree adds a new whorl of branches. You can estimate the age of the tree by counting the whorls. Add two or three years to represent the first few years of growth before the tree started making whorls.
Once back inside, prepare and enjoy some hot tea or cocoa, and remind children that these tasty treats also come from trees! Plan to visit the trees again in the spring to look for new growth.
Get the Full Activity
This family activity is adapted from Project Learning Tree’s PreK-8 Environmental Education Activity Guide which can be obtained through an in-person professional development workshop or online course.
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