Winter at the creek

Creeks are one of our favorite places to play, learn and escape in the summer, but they are also a great place to visit in winter.  If you are observant, you will find many learning opportunities by the water in the winter months.

The ever changing landscape near a creek is a great tool for teaching observation and comparison.  Encourage your child to look for differences in and near the water.  There may be signs of flood, such as leaves washed against high branches or the remains of shrimp and crayfish who lived in puddles that eventually dried up.

20130112_154511[1]If you practice being observant as a family when you are out in nature, it will become second nature to your children.  Our children all happily look for and point out interesting things along the path because they are use to investigating together.  My five year old noticed that the outer bark of this tree was missing.

outer bark of tree washed awayMy oldest son found a piece of cut log that was fun to roll and noticed a mark on it that was shaped like a snake.  We talked about how the mark may have been made by a bug that was hiding under it.

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Our kids remembered catching fish in a puddle after a summer rain.  They noticed there was nothing swimming in the puddle this time and that it was too cold for them to swim too.

creek puddle

Comparing a winter puddle to a summer puddle

There are signs of life even in winter.  We found a seed that was starting to sprout, giving us a little hope for spring.

seed sprouting by creek

seed sprouting by creek

Throwing rocks and sticks into the water is as much fun in January as it is June!

20130112_153658[1]During our time at the creek, my kids were engaged and happy, which is the opposite of what they were an hour earlier in the house.  Getting them out the door, while sometimes exhausting, is always worth it once we are all standing peacefully by the water.

20130112_153317[1]Proximity to water has a calming effect no matter the season.  If you have a creek nearby, I encourage you to visit it year round.  Teach your child to observe, to compare, to explore and to respect the waterways in your community.

The lyrics of the Xavier Rudd song below kept coming to me as I watched my kids in the water.  I hope you “take a stroll to the nearest water” soon!

20130112_153420[1]“When you feel life coming down on you, like a heavy weight. When you feel this crazy society, adding to the strain. Take a stroll to the nearest waters and remember your place. Many moons have risen and fallen long, long before you came. So which way is the wind blowing, and what does your heart say? So follow, follow the sun, and which way the wind blows when this day is done…”  Xavier Rudd -Follow the Sun

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