Winter scavenger hunt

In November, the small boy really enjoyed an Autumn scavenger hunt in our local park, so now that the weather has become more wintry, I decided to give a Winter themed scavenger hunt a go.  Like the previous one, we didn't collect things, but rather took photos.  I also learnt from last time and made it a little shorter, so the boys didn't get cold and the big one didn't run out of energy.

The challenges were:
1. Take a photograph of the sky.  Do you think it was warm or cold overnight?
2. Find some frozen water and take a photograph.  What do you think will happen to it later in the day, and why?
3. Make a wax crayon rubbing of the bark of two different trees.  Are the patterns similar or different?
4. Take a photograph of a deciduous tree.  Does it have any leaves left?
5. Find something that has feathers. What sort of bird is it?  Feed it some oats.
6. Run really fast to get warm then take a photo of your shadow.  Is it long or short?
7. Find a footprint. Is it a human or an animal? Take a photograph of the footprint.
8. Is the grass still green?  Do you think it grows faster or slower in Winter than in Summer?  Take a photo of the grass.

It took about 45 minutes, and there was a lot of the small boy getting enthusiastic about various things and wanting to take more photos or show them to his brother.  He really got into using his camera after the last scavenger hunt, and has mostly got the hang of keeping his fingers out of the photos and pointing the lens towards what he wants to take the photo of whilst he's pressing the shutter...

The small boy's photos of the sky, ice, tree with no leaves and a paw print (plus his feet and the camera strap!)

He liked taking photos of the sky, and he'd seen the sunrise an hour or so earlier when the sky was clear with a few wispy bits of pink cloud, but there was a little more cloud by the time we went out.  He even took photos of a passing helicopter and aeroplane (although they didn't turn out very well on his kids' camera which has low resolution and no zoom, so I took photos on mine for him to look at later).  He knew it'd been cold overnight and the evidence was all around us with lots of ice visible.

It was easy to find frozen water, but he was fascinated by the frozen puddles.  He was intrigued by some of the patterns the ice had frozen into, but particularly enjoyed jumping on the puddles to crack the ice (although he did discover that they are slippery).  He knew the ice would melt as the day went on, due to the heat from the Sun, which he reminded me is a star, not a planet...!

Taking photos of ice

We did a wax crayon rubbing of a tree he liked the look of, with really deep ridges in its bark.  I showed him a tree with some smoother bark, and we compared the rubbings.  Much more wax crayon is on the paper from the smoother bark, and the pattern is more visible.  It was nice to talk about the comparison, and he enjoyed telling his brother (who watched from his pushchair whilst removing his mittens repeatedly!) all about it.

There were lots of bare deciduous trees around, and we talked about how they'd lost their leaves, but they would grow back in Spring.  He also pointed out a handful of evergreen trees as we went around the park, and he had a good look at the brambles we'd picked blackberries from in the Summer.

Feeding the birds

It was straightforward to find things with feathers - he pointed out a couple of magpies, but the little lake was part-frozen, and lots of ducks, Canada geese (which were here this time, I don't know where they were in November), lots of gulls and a pair of swans were eager to eat the oats the boys fed them.  The big one was intrigued to see some of the birds apparently standing on the water, and he decided (correctly) that the middle of the lake must be frozen.  He was quite concerned that the ducks were cold, and wanted to take them home to warm them up...!

Part of the lake was frozen so the birds could stand on it

He'd already done quite a bit of running by the time we got to the 6th challenge, but he happily obliged, including running pushing his brother in the pushchair.  We had a look at our shadows which were really long because the Sun was low in the sky.  He had a lot of fun jumping around and watching his shadow.  Sadly it had got quite cloudy so the shadow doesn't really show up at all on his photo, but he enjoyed pointing out which way the Sun was and making his shadow wave to him.

Our quest for footprints was no more successful than last time, and we found lots of dog paw prints and human footprints.  I'm determined that one day we'll find something more interesting - there are lots of birds, squirrels and foxes around.

The grass proved more fascinating than I thought it might - it was still green, but he knew it would grow more slowly in Winter.  I asked him why, and he wasn't sure, so we talked about how there was less Sun and the grass wouldn't be able to photosynthesise as much to make its energy to grow.  It was the little crystals of ice on the grass that he was most interested in, and he had a good look at their shapes, even taking a blade to show his brother.  He also tried to pick them up and found they melted in his hand.  Where the grass had been in the Sun, the ice had melted into little droplets of water, and he liked these too.

Again, this was a fun mix of an outdoor activity which he loves, some prompts to talk about various vaguely scientific things and lots of opportunities for him to explore, notice things and ask questions.  He noticed lots of things about the colours of the various waterfowl we saw, the ice crystals and the shapes of different trees as well as the passing aircraft.  We will definitely do something similar in the Spring, and hopefully his brother will be walking a bit more stably by then and will be able to join in a little more.