Here in Virginia we are having an unusual amount of snow and very cold winter weather…it doesn’t exactly encourage us to get outdoors for Nature Study. Maybe you are experiencing a similar reluctance to venture outside? We would be missing an important part of our natural history education if we neglect this more hostile season. In order to inspire us all to go explore the outdoors, here’s a list of some great living books all about winter and some excellent natural history resources.
Picture Books to open our eyes to the possibilities of Winter:
Snowflake Bentley, Jacqueline Briggs Martin (Houghton Mifflin, 1998)
A Picture Biography of a man so fascinated with snow that he gave his life to capturing individual flakes on photographic film. Check out the book “Snow Crystals” listed below to see the actual pictures Bentley took!
Owl Moon, Jane Yolen (Philomel, 1987)
Take a walk through the winter woods at night with a little girl and her father as they try to find owls.
Mousekin’s Woodland Sleepers, Edna Miller (Prentice Hall, 1970)
Part of the beloved Mousekin series, this is a delightful introduction to animals that hibernate.
Elementary Science/Natural History Resources:
Animals in Winter, Henrietta Bancroft (HarperCollins, 1996)
A “Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out” Science book, great for the earliest students. This series has been around since the 1960s, and most of them have been reprinted–a testament to their enduring appeal.
Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here, Jean Craighead George (Harper, 1993)
From the pen of the classic nature writer who gave us My Side of the Mountain, this book is a lovely introduction to the winter solstice, and the astronomy behind the seasons, appropriate for young readers on up.
Snow Tracks, Jean Craighead George (Dutton, 1958)
Another title from Jean Craighead George, this book looks at the various tracks made by animals in the snow–inspiration for your students to go out and follow any tracks they may find!
Where They Go in Winter, Margaret Waring Buck (Abingdon, 1968)
I am a fan of Buck’s nature books (In Woods and Fields, Pets from the Pond, etc.) which are like concentrated field guides of the most commonly seen species of flora and fauna in the given area. This title focuses on the winter habits of North American wildlife. Buck’s illustrations are hand-drawn in black and white and also would be good for nature journal inspiration.
Backyard Birds of Winter, Carol Lerner (HarperCollins, 1994)
Beautifully illustrated, this is a picture book with more than the average amount of text that describes the most common birds seen in winter in the U.S.–those that don’t migrate to warmer climates and are easily spied at backyard feeders.
Middle-High School Science/Natural History Resources:
Winter Science Activities, John Youngpeter (Holiday, 1966)
I get so excited when I find books like this–it reminds me that the problems we face today getting our students motivated to explore outdoors at this time of year also plagued teachers of generations past–and someone decided to write a book to help! These experiments and activities will help your students think about things to investigate during these cold months. Great for Middle School students and those older.
Out of Doors in Winter, C.J. Hylander (Macmillan, 1943)
This book offers observations and notes on plants and animals in winter. For a slightly older audience than Winter Science Activities.
Wandering Through Winter, Edwin Way Teale (Dodd, 1965)
I’ve mentioned Teale’s nature books before; this is his installment for the winter season. Teale, a great 20th Century naturalist, and his wife travel across America and explore the hidden treasures of winter.
Nature Notebook Inspiration:
Sketching Outdoors in Winter, Jim Arnosky (Lothrop, 1988)
Arnosky lets us glimpse his own nature notebooks and gives us insight into his process with tips for drawing our own versions. Lovely inspiration but also helpful instructions for how to draw some of the objects we encounter during winter and want to include in our own notebooks.
Snow Crystals, W.A. Bentley (Dover, 1962)
This is the reprint of “Snowflake” Bentley’s groundbreaking photographs of individual snowflakes. Have fun exploring the symmetry and geometry of each unique snow crystal.
Enjoy! I hope these books will breathe new life into your Nature Study endeavors this winter!