6 Picture Books to Support Nature-Based Learning in January

6 Books to Support Nature Based Learning in January

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In our neck of the woods we tend to get our first real snows in January, so it's perfect time to pull out books that capture the magic of snowfall from a range of perspectives. I find that the richest learning occurs when students are presented with a combination of fact and fiction, helping deepen their naturalist knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts while also providing fodder for creative exploration and thematic dramatic play. These six books do just that...

1. Grandmother Winter by Phyllis Root

This charming story describes how Grandmother Winter tends to her flock of geese all spring, summer, and fall, gathering their feathers for a quilt that, when she shakes it in the winter, brings the first snowfall. I love myths and folktales that offer creative explanations for natural occurrences for the simple reason that they provoke children to think more critically about why things happen, and can provide a natural gateway into more scientific learning and exploration.


As a girl and her father go cross country skiing they encounter animals above the snow, as well as signs of the "secret world" underneath. This book fits perfectly with learning about how different types of animals survive the winter and emphasizes the rewards of careful, quiet observation of the natural world. 


Lois Elhert's collage-style illustrations composed of found objects are always a winner with children, who love identifying the various elements, and this simple story about building a family of snow people is no exception. It's bound to spark out-of-the-box thinking and inspire children to create some snow art of their own. 


This book is a classic for a reason - it perfectly captures childlike wonder and excitement at the first snow, and the bold, colorful illustrations keep even the youngest readers engaged. 


Children love playing "detective," and searching for tracks and other animal signs in the snow seems to be a universally exciting activity for little ones. This book is packed with important factual information, all presented in an interactive and engaging way. To further support learning, I always carry these free printable animal track identification cards with me during winter exploration to help children identify any snowy tracks they happen upon. 


Nature play makes for independent, confident children. They're sure to resonate with Treva, the heroine of this story, who manages to trickily outsmart a bunch of mischievous trolls while hiking alone in the mountains with her trusty dog. The illustrations are so rich that children are likely to want to spend time admiring them up close and noticing all the hidden touches and intricate details. 


Enjoyed this post? You're in luck!  I’ll be sharing monthly round-ups of high-quality picture books to support nature-based early childhood learning all year long. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to ensure you never miss out on new content.

Emma Huvos