Most of our farm animals are not fans of the snow. The goats and chickens stick to a flattened or shoveled path to walk and find places to warm their feet. They tend to find places up high out of the snow. Our ducks love to flap around as if taking a swim in the snow for a chilly bath. Ducks take many breaks and sit down to warm their feet as they explore nature's playground. The rabbits, especially our mama, Maple loves to show off her digging and snow plowing abilities as she moves the snow around her enclosure.
We learn much by watching the animals. Why do the chickens, rabbits, and goats look puffy? They conserve heat and warmth when they puff out their feathers and fur. Do they eat snow? Sometimes, who wouldn't want to taste that fluffy white stuff?! Can we eat snow? Although tempting, sadly no especially not on the farm, yuck! Do eggs freeze in the cold? Yes, so we need to grab them on those chilly days before they do. What happens if an egg freezes? The yoke and white expand and crack the shell.
Human friends are also puffed up in their snow gear! Winter is one of our favorite times at farm school. The landscape changes, and our forts and woodland areas get covered with snow. Snow is used to build walls, snow and ice are the main ingredients in recipes created in the mud kitchen, and snow angels and people are made.
The organic learning experiences offered by a blanket of snow is celebrated by educators and children. We notice numerous tracks. As these tracks are followed, compasses are used to observe which directions they travel. The size of the tracks are compared and guides are used to identify them. Binoculars allow us to observe squirrels scurrying up trees and birds darting back and forth from the bird feeders. Occasionally, an owl pellet is discovered on the ground, and we notice deer darting through the woods.
An outdoor classroom offers amazing opportunities to discover and learn. Questions are asked and answered. What happens when the snow melts? What happens when snow is added to a puddle? Does snow sink or float? Does ice sink or float? What happens when it melts and then refreezes?
Students compare the consistency of the snow and how it changes with the temperatures or from the heat of the sun. Leaves trapped in ice display ice crystals. Different thicknesses of ice allow us to experiment with and compare for strength and breaking patterns. We were not disappointed by the groundhog seeing his shadow, and the possibility of six more weeks of winter. The wish for snow and making more discoveries is one we all gleefully make!