A Winter Activity for Kids: Conifer Fun

get outside and explore those evergreens!
Winter Activity for Kids: Kids walking in path between pine trees
© Kris Antonius / tinypeasant.com

It’s tempting to burrow into our cozy homes and tuck nature walks away until spring arrives – but there is a lot to explore and learn about in this magical season! When dressed comfortably with a few ideas up our down-filled sleeves, nature walks in winter are a warm and rich activity – mittens, cocoa, the smell of pine and spruce…it’s a lovely sensory experience!

No need to go far – try venturing out to a nearby park where you can find one or more species of conifer (evergreen) trees and try some of the following ideas. Be sure to bring along a pouch or container to collect cones and needles for craft and kitchen projects later in the day or week.

Winter activity for kids: Pine branches with snow
© Kris Antonius / tinypeasant.com

Winter Walk Tips

  1. You don’t have to go for an hour-long walk to experience the benefits of time in nature. If you’re new to nature walks, start out with a short 10-minute walk and work up to one hour or longer. Even 10 minutes gets kids moving, breathing fresh air, and connecting with nature.
  2. Purchase a pair of really good wool or synthetic wicking socks. Keep them with your gear by the door, rather than in your regular sock rotation. These will give kids’ feet added warmth and comfort for your winter walk and they can make getting ready to head outside a special experience.
  3. Pack some hot cocoa or tea and a nourishing snack – bring this out at your halfway point for an added energy boost that will get you through the return walk home.
Winter Activity for Kids: Drinks and Snacks in Basket
© tinypeasant.com / Kris Antonius

Explore using four senses

Touch various types of needles; how are they similar and different? Are the needles flat or round? Long or short? Does each attach directly to the branch or do they protrude in a group?

Try climbing the trees! Conifers make great climbing trees because their branches often create a sort of living ladder for littles to climb up and down. Be careful!

Look at bird’s nests, birds, animal tracks and scat around the trees. What species can you identify? Would this particular tree be a good shelter for certain animals or birds?

Listen to trees in the breeze, the quiet, the life around the trees. What do you hear? What do you not hear?

Smell the crushed needles and the cones. How are they similar and different? 

Things to explore and learn about

Find a special spot you can return to regularly that your children can connect with in a personal way. Take pictures and go back to the same spot in each season – witness and discuss how it’s similar and different. Make a sketch of the same spot in each season to capture the changes.

Winter Nature Walks: Conifer Activities

Here are two activities involving conifer trees for your young children of preschool/kindergarten or elementary school age to enjoy.

Preschool/Kinder Activity

Set up either a double dish like the one in this photo, or two small bowls. Place small conifer cones in the left side, and your child can use tongs or their fingers to transfer the cones from left to right (this is a great pre-reading activity as we read from left to right on the page).

Winter Activity for Kids: Child transferring pinecones between double dish
© tinypeasant.com / Kris Antonius

Elementary Activity

Take a closer look at your harvest using a magnifying glass or microscope if you can find one – examine specimens of different varieties of trees. Make sketches or try making a chart to compare and contrast what you observe about the different evergreens.

Winter Activity for Kids: Child Drawing Pinecone
© tinypeasant.com / Kris Antonius

More activities!

Check out Conifer Needle Tea for Cold Defense and Conifer Cone Fire Starters for more fun activities to bring back from your winter nature walk!

*Originally published January 5, 2016