The cold darker months of winter can give most people the blues. With some intentionality though, winter can really be an amazing season full of memories, connection, and skill-building. As you may know, I love living and homeschooling with the rhythms of the seasons as a focal point of our days and lessons. As winter approaches I get giddy with excitement over the books we will read, the warm foods we will eat, the projects we will do, and the nature we will study.
Those chilly winter days are a perfect time to spend a little more time working on handcrafts and projects you’ve been meaning to get to, reading and listening to good books, and learning some new kitchen skills. On the more mild winter days, bundle up and get outside to explore the wonders that only winter brings.
I want to share some of our favorite books and activities for the wintertime as a springboard for you to be intentional with slowing down and making room for connection and beauty this season. Even though this blog post is directed toward homeschool families, all of these ideas are perfect for families with traditionally schooled children who want to be intentional this winter with cozy family time as well.
Setting the Atmosphere
Some of my favorite ways to transform our home into a cozy winter wonderland are to add warm lighting all over the main living and school area, such as candles and simple fairy lights, even after Christmas has passed and the tree has come down. I love buying this beeswax candle kit and rolling candles with the kids to burn all winter long. I also like to bring out some heavier and cozier couch throws than we usually have, creating an inviting space in our living room that is just asking for kids to snuggle up for hours of stories and snuggles. Another must-have is cozy socks and slippers for everyone! I love these slippers for myself and these for the kids. I also live in fleece-lined leggings and cozy knit cardigans all winter long. While I don’t prefer the kids to stay in pajamas all day, I do buy them all cozy sweatpants and sweaters for chilly days at home. If you have a fireplace, it goes without saying to keep that baby burning all day, everyday! If not, try a fireplace video with real crackling sounds like this one. I also love playing classical instrumental music in the house to set the tone for calm days.
The Coziest Winter Stories
Grab a big basket (or two) from the thrift store and fill them to the brim with the coziest winter stories. I like to put baskets filled with books right next to every area in the house that people cozy up. To fill our baskets, I refer to the book list each week in Treehouse Nature Study: Winter to gather books related to the winter nature theme we are studying. Each week focuses on one nature theme such as winter birds, animals in winter, and coniferous trees and includes a book list of fiction, non-fiction, and reference selections about the theme. Along with those books, I have discovered many wonderful books that I have purchased and pull out in the winter. I have gathered 20 of my favorite picture books for the winter months for you.
Download: FREE Cozy Winter Picture Book List
Winter is a great time to dive into some of those lengthier read alouds as well. Here are a few we have read or listened to in audiobook format lately and loved.
- The Little House on the Prairie Set
- Understood Betsy
- Kingdom Tales Series
- Tumtum and Nutmeg Series
- The Borrowers
Cozy Meals and Treats
Winter is the perfect time for soups, stews, fresh warm bread, and hot drinks! I always have something simmering on my stove or in the slow cooker all winter long. Smells of freshly baked bread and cookies fill the house all day long. I have recently gotten into sourdough, so I especially can’t wait for all the baking this winter! Here are a few of my favorite recipes for winter.
- Slow Cooker Beef Stew
- Immune-Boosting Chicken Soup
- Zuppa Toscana
- Sourdough Cinnamon Rolls
- Homemade Hot Cocoa- I make homemade hot cocoa super often in the winter. In each cup I scoop 2 tbsp of coconut sugar (or maple syrup or cane sugar) and 1 tbsp of cocoa powder. Then I add a little hot water and stir to make a syrup. Then I add about 1/8 tsp of vanilla extract. I fill the rest of the mug with steamed milk. You could also use this as a guide to make a big batch. Don’t forget the marshmallows and whipped cream!
- Ginger Molasses Cookies- These are hands-down our favorite winter cookie. This recipe comes from my mom, but she was kind enough to let us share it with you. Click the image below to download the recipe card.
Winter is the perfect time to pick up a new handcraft, or teach your children one of your old favorites. Some of our favorites are cross-stitch, embroidery, and latch hook. Knitting and crocheting are also good ones for cozy days around the fire. If you have the space for it, set up a craft corner for the winter with all of the supplies you or your children need to grab throughout the day at a moment’s notice. Check out my Amazon list for my favorite materials for handcrafts for children.
Winter Poetry, Art, and Nature Study
One thing that is super special as homeschoolers in the winter is studying themes that aren’t quite as fun in the other months, like hibernation and snow and ice. We use Treehouse Nature Study as the guide for these studies. Each week focuses on a winter nature theme and provides books, songs, hand rhymes, poetry, art, and projects. You can pick and choose from the guide how much or how little to use each year. Here are some ideas from Treehouse Nature Study to get you started.
- Read and study winter-themed poetry such as I Heard a Bird Sing by Oliver Herford and The Shortest Day by Susan Cooper.
- Display and enjoy winter-themed art pieces such as Winter Landscape with Mallard by Archibald Thorburn and Winter Scene in New Haven, Connecticut by George Henry Durrie.
- Study birds that don’t migrate in the winter and make a bird feeder.
- Go on a winter nature walk and discover ice, animal burrows, and other signs of winter.
- Learn about and celebrate the Winter Solstice. We like to make lanterns and Sun Bread.
- Explore shadows (this is especially fun to do in conjunction with Groundhog’s Day).
- Learn about Maple Sugaring and make maple candy. (get my recipe below!)
- If you are interested to see what a full week looks like from Treehouse Nature Study, I wanted to offer you one full week of Winter to you for free!