Winter explorations: Get outside and learn
Visit New Hampshire’s nature learning centers this February
With a wide array of kid-friendly learning programs planned for the month of February, New Hampshire’s many nature centers make it easy for families to explore the great outdoors. If you are ready for one last blast of winter fun, bundle up and enjoy a day of play in nature.
Fridays, February 2, 9, 16 and 23 from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m.
Every Friday, the Seacoast Science Center in Rye welcomes kids ages 3-5 to its Big Fish Little Fish program. This is a hands-on, outdoor program designed to inspire curiosity and a sense of wonder, and to empower and build a child’s confidence as a young scientist and naturalist. Each week has a different theme, so there's always something new and different to learn and explore. Those who pre-register will save $2 per child.
Saturday, February 3 and Saturday, February 17, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Ever wondered which animals make all those tiny and not-so tiny footprints in the snow? Learn the basics of animal tracking at Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center in Laconia. The interactive tracking walks take place around the center’s grounds.
Sunday, February 4
For more animal-tracking fun, join naturalists from the Harris Center in Hancock for a family-friendly winter tracking walk along the Tenant Swamp boardwalk in Keene. This outing is geared toward elementary school children and their families, but all are welcome. The walk begins at 2 p.m. behind Keene Middle School. Email the Harris Center at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve snowshoes.
Wednesday, February 14
Valentine’s Day may be all about roses, but beneath the snow and frozen ground, there are new flowers and new plant life just waiting to explode. To learn how trees and other plants wait out winter and start preparing for spring, head to Waiting to Bloom at the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn for a fun and informative guided walk through the winter landscape. See what early signs of spring you can spot. For added adventure, snowshoe rentals for all ages are available anytime to explore the center’s grounds.
Friday, February 16, and Saturday, February 17
What’s winter in New Hampshire without the time-honored tradition of ice fishing? Hosted by Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester, Let’s Go ICE Fishing! is a free two-day program for families to learn the basics of ice angling. Led by staff and volunteers from New Hampshire Fish and Game, the program covers ice safety, fish ecology, equipment, and there’s a fishing field trip for hands-on learning. All angling gear will be provided. For kids ages 8 and older.
Saturdays, February 10, 17 and 24, from 10 a.m. to noon
Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness invites families to take a naturalist-guided Wild Winter Walk of the live animal exhibit trail to see how the center’s furry and feathered residents adapt to winter in New Hampshire. Snowshoes are available at no extra cost or bring your own.
Saturday, February 17, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.
For some indoor fun, visit the Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn for its live reptile and amphibian show featuring the center’s own live turtles, frogs, and snakes. Learn what species live in New Hampshire, how to identify them, and what strategies they use to survive the winter. You can even touch or hold a turtle or a snake. All ages welcome. Call 668-2045 to register.
Tuesdays, February 6, 13 and 20, at 10 a.m.
The Natural Winter Wonder program at the Beaver Brook Association in Hollis is still going full steam in February, with fun program sessions that include a story, craft and outdoor nature walk. This program is geared toward preschoolers and their parents/caregivers.
Friday, February 23
Experience winter like an animal at Squam Lakes Natural Science Center as you make your way through a fun Winter Agility Challenge that gets kids and parents to skip like snowshoe hares, slide like otters, balance like bobcats, and jump like deer. How fast can you go? After this wild outdoor adventure, head inside to meet some special live animal guests.
Tuesday, February 27
If you are up for a different kind of challenge, then don’t miss Amoskeag Fishways who will play host to a special Makerspace Challenge Day to build winter sleds from recycled materials. No more snow? Build your own games in this day dedicated to the imagination.
Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives on the Seacoast.