5 winter activities to try at the Nature Center

Despite the cold temperatures and vanishing daylight... it's time to get outside!

By Guest Services Associate Katherine Callen

An article written for the American Psychological Association says “Spending time in nature is linked to both cognitive benefits and improvements in mood, mental health and emotional well-being.” But we all know that this time of year is difficult to get outside as much as would be good for us. The cold weather, extra layers, and lack of sunshine are surely a challenge. Overcoming these can be a rewarding and beneficial experience all around. There are many things to do to get you out and about in nature this time of year; here are 5 winter activity ideas for the whole family.

  • Take an exploration walk.

    We have some self guided hikes for you to enjoy, but you don’t need a guide to enjoy nature. Walking quietly through the woods to spot deer, squirrels, birds, and maybe even a turkey; listening to the subtle sounds of the forest; playing in the snow; breathing in the fresh, crisp winter air… these are all fun ways to explore nature.

  • Cast animal tracks.

    Before the snow falls and the ground freezes, early winter is the perfect time to look for some unique animal tracks. First find some cool prints, look for mud patches that are not too soupy. You want the ground firm enough where the print will set. Next you’ll need Plaster of Paris, water, and a container to mix those two together. Once you find a track you want to cast, mix your plaster together with enough water to make it scoopable but not runny. Carefully pour some plaster into the track and wait for the plaster to dry and harden on top. If you’re casting in a wet environment the cast will take longer to dry. Can’t find any tracks? Why not cast your own! Once you’re done casting tracks, look for even more tracks as you walk up to the front entrance of Amazing Space.

  • Make snow cream.

    1 bowl snow, 1/2 cup sugar, Vanilla to taste, 1 cup milk. Collect fresh clean snow, mix in sugar and vanilla. Stir in milk until you get your preferred consistency. Enjoy!

  • Go snowshoeing.

    The Nature Center has snowshoes to rent (Members $8; Nonmembers $12) once there is 5 or more inches of snow on the ground. Our prairie trails are great for learning how to snowshoe.

  • Have a cold weather picnic on our patio!

    Just because it’s chilly doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a nice picnic. Bring blankets to wrap up in, hot cocoa, a thermos full of soup, some tasty bread and you have a great winter picnic. And for those who would rather not brave the cold, our auditorium makes for a great alternative location.

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