The Great Winter Escape!

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Last year, after spending 3 years in Southern California, where winter means 20’s at night but 65 during the day, my kids ranted and raved about how awesome the winter season is! They would spend hours outside everyday, all bundled up and waddling around like a marshmallow trying to catch a cream puff. Snow was the most magical creation on earth and they enjoyed every second in it!

I’m going to assume the novelty of cold and snow has worn off. Well, although it is quiet a bit colder this year than it was last year, my kids want nothing to do with the outdoors. Nada. They will brave the ice, sleet and wind chill if we require it, but go out into a life size freezer for fun? No thank you!

I find it all quite humorous, they will sit inside and stare out of the windows, in their shorts, and oooh or ahhhh over the beauty of the winter wonderland. Yet they refuse to actually go play in it! They will pretend that the stairs are ice covered mountains filled with yetis and ninjas fighting against the pirate kings and princesses while donning robes, pjs and slippers but balk at the idea of protecting their fortress (the playground) from the ice. Little G has even told me that I need to make Alfred some hot chocolate because it’s too cold in his batcave (a portion of the woods behind the house) only to refuse to take the chocolate to Alfred (don’t worry he can just send it to him from his special watch).

So how on earth am I supposed to get in their daily outside time, let alone nature study! I am sure by now your quite aware that we practice a hybrid version of Unschooling and Charlotte Mason principles when it comes to school. One of my favorite concepts from Charlotte Mason is the idea of nature study as a spine for science and plenty of time outdoors in actual play. Normally this is one of the kids favorite subjects and I have no problem getting them to participate…except when the polar vortex has taken over North America apparently (and it’s been mellow out here in Maryland!).

We have a local man made lake on base that we enjoy weekly. However, the drop in temperature (as well as the holidays) has kept us away for almost two months!

That doesn’t mean science lessons have stopped. We have made our own observations and hypothesis from our everyday routine in order to keep up some form of it all. For example, the kids absolutely loved piling up on the couch under three blankets while daddy blew bubbles that turned to ice when it was -10 degrees outside. Daddy was a trooper and lasted three whole frozen bubbles before giving up (and chasing the kids around the house with cold fingers)! The kids also placed a glass of tap water and filtered water outside and timed them from the window (again under blankets) to see how fast they froze. All fun and warm as well as educational but this week we decided it was time to make a break for it and go back to the lake!

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We lasted 15 minutes in the cold. Only 15 minutes and it was worth every freezing second!

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The sun was shining off the snow fractals and crystallized ice patterns, the lake was almost completely frozen and we found dog tracks in the snow on top of the ice. Rocks were thrown to see how solid everything was (this was the children’s first experience with a frozen lake), and they were shocked when their rocks bounced (they had hypothesized that the ice was too fragile and would break under the force of a rock…or rather G did and his sisters agreed) . We found deer tracks in the snow and met up with our (yes, my kids have adopted the lake Canada Geese as their own) flock of geese.

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We found a small puddle that had been frozen solid… It became our own personal ice skating rink. Each child took a turn falling on their bums and my youngest took three before she realized she didn’t like ice.

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It was a short trip but the children spent the rest of the afternoon talking about it and asking questions! They became so curious about winter and the animals that live in that habitat that now they want to study it. So we have a full winter unit, pirate unit (because really you can never know enough about Edward Teach…according to my 6 year old!) and read as many fairy tales as possible (because my big girl is all about princesses and fairies right now!) over the next few weeks, because the children are curious!

The Great Winter Escape turned out to be more of an embrace and maybe, just maybe we will be able to face our fears and brave it a few more times before the thaw of spring!

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