Joyfully Homeschooling Through Winter + a Giveaway

Many people have a hard time enduring the long gloomy months of winter, especially with the past few "arctic" winters and the Ice Storm of 2013.  It can be uncomfortable to go outside into the bitter cold. You might opt to avoid the cold outdoors, which then leads to what we call Cabin Fever (extreme irritability and restlessness).   The solution would be to go outside, but again many want to avoid that due to being uncomfortable. 

One could argue that summer is uncomfortable as well, being hot and often times humid.  We cope by dressing in cooler clothes, we head to the beach, we sip cool lemonade, or we play in the sprinklers.  We find joyful solutions and we embrace the beauty of hot weather months.

You can do the same in the cold weather months.  Seek joy, and you will find it.  Be purposeful in going outdoors often, even for brief periods of time.  In the summer months you dress appropriate for the weather and drink cool drinks.  Likewise, in winter you need to dress appropriate to stay warm and maybe drink warm drinks (keeping in mind plain water is important as well). 

By making the choice to be outside your mood and physical health will naturally improve.  Nature improves our mental wellbeing, reducing stress and anxiety.  Likewise, physical activity reduces stress, anxiety and anger as well as reduces our risk of cardiovascular disease.  By being intentional to get outdoors and be active as a family, you will also encourage lifelong healthy habits for your children.

Winter has so much to offer for many ages and levels of fitness.  Outdoor ice-skating (need I even mention hockey?), snowshoeing, cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, sledding/tobogganing, and more!

When you decide to go outside to spend time in nature, you need to layer your clothes and you need to be thoughtful in your choice of gear.  Wear those hats, not worrying if you will mess up your hair.  Wear proper gloves and winter boots.  By dressing properly you won't quickly get cold.  In fact, you are likely to be too warm if you're doing a more vigorous activity like climbing sled hills.

As a homeschooler, the winter months have so much beauty and so much opportunity to teach.  There is much amazement to behold - and that amazement will rub of on your children.  Or on the flip side, your child's amazement of winter can rub off on you.  Either way - get outside!

Start out by deciding on a simple walk.  Walking outside is more effective than any exercise indoors because you can't just give up halfway through.  You have to follow it through to the end, if you want to get back home.

Here is my list of educational (and in turn, physically and mentally healthy) reasons to embrace winter.

1.  Bird watching is particularly easy in winter.  The leaves are gone, and birds (especially the cardinals!) are easy to spot.

2.  By going outside in all seasons you could create yourself a perpetual calendar.  Visit your favorite trails and parks all year and compare what's same and what's different.

Kids will learn so much of nature, with little to no work on your part if only you just take them there.  Take them to a pond in the summer and enjoy the ducks and the flowers.  Take them again in winter and wait until they ask, "but where's the ducks!?" 

Prompt them:  "What does it look like when we look up into the trees in the fall?"  "What about the winter?"

"What is this hill like in the spring?"  "What is this hill like in the winter?"


3.  Winter is a great time to do lessons on shadows and animal tracks.  Shadows are particularly easy (and beautiful!) to see on the snow.  (animal tracks - and people tracks - are also easy to spot).

4.  Creativity.  If the snow is right, jump on the chance to encourage your kids in creativity.  Build a snowman.  Build a wacky snowman.  Build a fort.  Make snow angels.  Make snow smiles.  The world snow is your canvas.

Find some icicles and pretend you're a saber tooth tiger.

5.  Food.  For years we got really grumpy in winter with so little (recognizable to us) fruits and vegetables to choose from.  I soon realized this was a really narrow minded way to go about winter grocery shopping.

Really embrace all that winter harvest has to offer you.  Those squash are so full of nutrients, and they really keep well.  Now is a fantastic time to try new soups and casseroles.  Learn what food is in harvest in these long months and truly embrace it.  Don't be afraid to try new things - for the sake of yourselves and your kids. 

If you don't know how to choose a particular product, or how to store it, or eat it - look it up on youTube or another website. 

My new favorite winter fruit is pomelo.

In the future, plan ahead and stock up on local harvest and preserve.  This is a great lesson to do with the kids as well.  Start out simple. Do something like picking blueberries then bag and freeze them to enjoy all year.  Buy extras in fresh produce (like grapes) when they are in season and freeze them.

With your children, research why winter is so important to certain crops like cabbage, apples, or maple syrup.

Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” (John 12:24)

6.  Beauty.  Winter has so much beauty, if only you'd go out and see it.

Which brings me to another point.  Snowflakes and hoarfrost are much easier to see and capture now than they were in the times of  Wilson Bentley.  Read Snowflake Bentley or look at Snowflakes in Photographs and then try to capture your own.  Set a black sheet of paper in the freezer to get it cold.  Then set it outside and catch flakes.  Take a magnifying glass outside and see what you can see (not forgetting to hold your breath when you are close).

I captured mine with a macro phone lens by Photojojo.

I am in agreement that some days you just should not go out.   Like when it's negative ridiculous out.  Or sleeting.  Or ice covered all Elsa style.

In those cases when you absolutely should hibernate, there's still cheerful things to occupy your mind until spring. 

1.  Buy flowers.

2.  Bake.  There's no better season to turn that oven on.  (and let the kids help!)

3.  Head to a community area.  YMCA, a play centre, a library.  Someplace you can stay warm, have fun, be active and get out of the house.

4.  Pretty up your outside with kid friendly decorations.

Winter is just nothing short of amazing.  Don't be afraid to embrace it.  Choose joy.

I have joined a team of Canadian bloggers and we are bringing you a really fun winter themed e-book giveaway.  The giveaway starts Jan 28th at 1am and ends Feb 11at 11:59pm.  This giveaway is for Canadian's only, and 18+.

To read more about what the giveaway contains, check out Lisa Marie's post over at The Canadian Homeschooler.  Enter the giveaway below:


  1. That photo of Connor with the icicles. I cannot handle it. I love him oh so much.

  2. Oh, I'm so glad I live where it does not snow! I'm "cold" when it's 68 degrees in the house. I can't even imagine. It is pretty to look at, though. I love your snowflake photo!

  3. Getting outdoors in the crisp air is always an invigorating experience for us. When we get back inside we are ready to hunker down and do some learning!

  4. excellent post with tons of great ideas. :)

  5. You have so many beautiful winter photos! So inspiring!

  6. Ok, I'M LOVING those snowflake photos. They are astounding.


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