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Observing Nature With Your Children This Winter

January 2013

January is an interesting month to start a calendar with your children to observe changes in weather, how many hours of sunshine are in each day or what animals you can identify right out of your own windows.

It is an opportunity to have dialogues with your children about how the birds and other animals are eating, sleeping and surviving. You might even feed some of the birds and let your children observe when the birds (and squirrels) come to feed. 

This is the fourth January that I have observed a crab apple tree outside my kitchen window.  It is a tree laden with thousands of small crab apples and is a favorite tree for robins and squirrels. Though the fruit appears in August, the fruit changes colors and in November the robins return to start their winter stay in our neighborhood. I have watched with interest that by January the robins change their eating pattern. The male hops on the branches and is proud when he makes the fruit fall to the frozen ground. There the females congregate to eat what has been deliberately dropped for their survival. Observing nature right outside your own home is a special opportunity to do something together with your children. 

We keep an outdoor thermometer outside our kitchen window. I look at it every day and enjoy being prepared for the weather when I go outside. Your children can observe nature by writing in a journal or on a calendar about changing weather and temperatures.

Children can measure snow in containers and then watch the snow melt and measure the water after it is finished melting. Icicles are interesting to watch melt, both from the gutters and trees and when you bring them inside. Can you time their drips?  Can you take them in different places in your house where they melt faster?

January and February are not times to experience "cabin fever" but rather a special time when there are more opportunities to be together. It is a great time to read together as a family. Find some interesting books and take turns reading paragraphs and pages. You can create some common ground by reading some of the same books together.

As always, don't forget to check out our Indy's Child Calendar. It is packed with great things to see and do this January.  Have a wonderful month!

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