Nature Fun, Indoors and Out

While chilly temperatures might drive families indoors during the winter, there are plenty of reasons to explore the outdoors — and then keep the fun going at home!



“Kids don’t spend enough time outside during the warm weather months, so you can imagine how little time is spent outdoors during the winter,” says Lizzy Barnett, MetroParks outdoor education apprentice. “Our biological need for rejuvenation, exercise and fresh air doesn’t change during the winter. You just have to bundle up and go for it. However, if you can only spend short spurts of time outside, there are plenty of activities that bring nature indoors.”

Try one of these outdoor activities this winter, and then keep the adventure going indoors while you cozy up with your family.

Bird Buddies

Winter’s bare trees make for some great birding opportunities. Lots of beautiful birds are migrating from Canada, such as snowy owls, northern harriers and much more. Download the eBird app to see what sightings have been made in your area, and then visit the trails in your favorite MetroPark to see what you can discover!

Take It Indoors

Want to attract more birds to your backyard? Consider making a bird feeder at home using some fallen pine cones from your yard. Roll the pine cones in shortening or peanut butter, and then in bird seed, and then hang the pine cone in your yard for all the birds to enjoy.

Photo Credit: Five River MetroParks

Outdoor Inspection

Leaf buds on tree branches form during the summer, and their hard shells protect them from the wind, ice and snow during the winter. Inspect the variety of buds on different trees while they are bare and compare what they look like.

Take It Indoors

Find fallen branches or twigs in your backyard and bring them indoors. Grab a magnifying glass and look, touch and feel the texture of the hard shells that protect the tree buds. Grab a few fallen branches from different trees and compare. Which branches have smaller shells? Which are harder? What color are they?

What’s Growing?

Head to your backyard or favorite MetroPark and inspect the ground. What is growing? What color is it? Are there vegetables and flowers growing? This is a great opportunity to talk to your little one about what happens outdoors during the changing seasons.

Take It Indoors

A great way to encourage your children to try new foods is to help them grow their own. This is challenging in the winter, but creating a seed necklace is fun and allows you to explore teachable moments with your curious kiddos. Grab radish, bean, okra, yellow squash or bell pepper seeds; a cotton ball; Ziploc bag; hole puncher; and a piece of yarn.


Wet your child’s cotton ball and squeeze out the excess water. Insert the wet cotton ball into the Ziploc bag with their seed. Make sure the bag is sealed, and then punch a hole in the bag’s closure. Thread the yarn to make it into a necklace. Over time, body heat will help the seed sprout, at which point you can experiment by eating the spouts, examining the sprouts or replanting them in a cup and watching them continue to grow.

Photo Credit: Five River MetroParks

Sweet Snow

After a day of sledding at Taylorsville, Englewood or Germantown MetroPark, your family might need a sweet treat. Head to your backyard to find some clean snow and examine it. Is it fluffy or icy? What does it taste like?

Take It Indoors 

Take some pure maple syrup and pour it in a pot set to medium-high heat. While you are waiting for the syrup to boil, find a few cups of clean snow, bring it inside and place it in a bowl. Once the syrup has boiled down, drizzle it onto the snow and watch it crystalize. Enjoy snacking on the sweet snow while you get cozy and watch a movie with your family.

To learn more about all the fun things to enjoy in your MetroParks during the winter, visit

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