Winter explorations: Get outside and learn

Visit New Hampshire’s nature learning centers this winter

With a wide array of kid-friendly learning programs planned for January and February, New Hampshire’s many nature centers make it easy for families to explore the great outdoors. If you are ready for a blast of winter fun, then bundle up and enjoy a day of play in nature.

When: Fridays, ongoing
What: Big Fish Little Fish
Where: Seacoast Science Center in Rye

Every Friday, the Seacoast Science Center 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.
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Also at the Seacoast Science Center, on Monday mornings, little ones ages 1-3 and their favorite adults are invited to dance, play, and use their senses to explore. Families can join the inclusive Ocean Commotion community for our fun, social spin on active learning.
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When: Saturdays in January and February starting at 10 a.m.
What: Story Snowshoe at the Curious George Cottage
Where: Margaret and H.A. Rey Center in Waterville Valley

Did you know that the folks behind Curious George and the Man with the Yellow Hat have Granite State roots? Visit the Rey Center on Saturdays during the winter months for snowshoeing while following a Curious George story. Once you've had your fill and fun of snowshoeing, then head indoors for more stories, hot cocoa and crafts. Cost is $5 for members and $7 for non-members.
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When: Saturdays, January through March, from 10 a.m. to noon
What: Wild Winter Walk
Where: Squam Lakes Natural Science Center in Holderness

Families are invited to take a naturalist-guided Wild Winter Walk of the live animal exhibit trail and see how the Science Center’s furry and feathered residents adapt to winter in New Hampshire. Snowshoes are available at no extra cost or bring your own. Cost is $8 for members and $10 for non-members.
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When: Tuesdays, January through early March, at 10 a.m.
What: Winter Wonders for Preschoolers (and their Grownups)
Where: Beaver Brook Association in Hollis

The 8-week Winter Wonder program at the Beaver Brook Association takes place each Tuesday and families can attend all 8 or pop in whenever fits their schedule. Each of the fun program sessions includes a story, craft and outdoor nature walk. The program is geared for children ages 2-6 and cost is $64 for 8 weeks or $10 per class; there is a 10% off discount for members.
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When: Saturday, January 12 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
What: Our Big Backyard: Track Detectives
Where: Prescott Farm Environmental Center in Laconia

Explore Prescott Farm and look for tracks, scat, hair and other clues that can help tell the story of what our animal friends (squirrels, mice, coyotes -- maybe even porcupines and bobcats!) are up to in the winter. Our Big Backyard: Track Detectives will take place around the center’s grounds and families will learn the basics of animal tracking.
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When: Saturday, January 19 from 5:30 to 7 p.m.
What: Full Moon Hike
Where: Peabody Mill Environment Center in Amherst

Have you ever hiked in the woods at night without a flashlight? You will be amazed how well you can see in the full moonlight without one. After the hike, there will be hot cider around the fire, as well as stories to share.
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When: Sunday, January 27 from 10 to 11 a.m.
What: Tracking Basics
Where: Harris Center in Hancock

For more animal-tracking fun, join naturalists from the Harris Center in Hancock for a family-friendly Tracking Basics program. This outing is geared toward elementary school children and their families, but all are welcome.
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When: Saturday, February 2 from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m.
What: Adventure Treasure Hunt
Where: McLane Audubon Center in Concord

Bundle up and set course for an Adventure Treasure Hunt at the McLane Audubon Center in Concord. All ages are invited to use a compass and clues to find the treasure hidden in our forest. The Center will provide compasses, and snowshoes if necessary. The best part? You get to keep a piece of the treasure…if you can find it! The cost is $15 for families or $10 for Audubon members.
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When: Friday, February 15, and Saturday, February 16
What: Let’s Go ICE Fishing!
Where: Amoskeag Fishways in Manchester

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.
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When: Saturday, February 16, from 1 to 2 p.m.
What: Remarkable Reptiles: Live Reptile and Amphibian Show
Where: Massabesic Audubon Center in Auburn

For some indoor fun, visit the Massabesic Audubon Center for its annual 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. Cost is $8 for individual members and $10 for non-members or $20 for member families and $25 for non-member families.
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Jacqueline Tourville is a freelance writer and children’s book author who lives on the Seacoast.

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