Saturday, July 25, 2009

Winter Fun

This probably seems like a wierd subject to bring up in the middle of the summertime - but it does seem to be a question that comes up about now with new homeschoolers in Canada who have discovered Charlotte Mason, and realize the amount of outside time suggested.

How do you get outside enough in Canadian Winters, where it might be -40 (C or F) or even colder for days or weeks at a time? (Some of these ideas may be adapted by people who can not get outside in their summer because of the extreme hot temperatures...)

First off - I say that sometimes it is tempting to stay inside, when the weather is still fine for going outside. I figure if it is in the guidelines here for the Public Schools to go outside for recess (for 15 minutes), that we should definately be able to go outside for at least as long.

From people who HAVE to go outside, I can say that proper clothing is vital. "Long Johns", good pants (wool if possible), shirts, sweaters, snow suits, a baclava with neck warmer (Better than a scarf and hat) 2 sets of mitts, and good boots make a huge difference. (I have heard from a homeschooling mother who is on a farm with animals. When the weather is super cold, they are probably outside LONGER because of the work that needs to be done. They bundle up, and the children learn to keep moving.)

Things to do outside:
  • if snowing, catch some snowflakes on black material and look at them.
  • go skiing, sleding, skating, walking.
  • make a snowman or have snowball fights. make snow angels

If you really feel that you can't go outside, there are things you can do inside for Nature Study...
  • mount flowers/leaves that were collected in the summer/fall and have been drying that long
  • make an indoor conservatory in an old fish tank
  • grow carrot tops / apple seeds / other things from food....
  • look through old nature journal entries and remember
  • read good nature books - maybe watch outdoor shows on TV (animal planet (watch content), zaboomafoo, etc)
  • visit a conservatory if there is one nearby - they are warm happy places in dreary wintertime with plants all around
  • visit a planetarium and enjoy a star-show
  • in our museum, there are some full-sized nature diorama's that can be fun to explore
  • study and draw your pets or houseplants for the nature journal
  • study parts of the human body.... really look at that foot or hand... look at a hair under a magnifying glass or microscope. do fingerprints. (we are nature!)
And - to get the wiggles out...
  • put on some music and dance!
  • If you move the furniture back, or go in the basement, could you have room to jump rope?
  • if you can get hold of an exercise-mini-trampoline - let the kids enjoy jumping on it
  • setup a little obstical golf course (soft balls)
  • setup a little treasure hunt
  • or - go to the Y and swim, play in the gym or playstructure

As a final note - don't ever "throw the baby out with the bathwater". That is - don't decide not to do Charlotte Mason schooling just because you feel that you could never get the kids outside enough. Do the best you can, and your kids will benefit, even if you don't hit the "ideal". (Also note that the amount of outside time often quoted as being needed for CM misses the part that CM suggested that time from April to October)


  1. You're so right with your comment that even public school kids spend 15 minutes outside. Surely we could do at least that well!

  2. Thanks for the comment!

    I think it wasn't clear from what I wrote above - there is a policy here on when the schools hold recess inside.... so I was trying to say that if the weather is such that the schools go outside, we should be able to for at least as long. But I think it wasn't quite clear that the schools do stay inside at times.