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Take your family outside to explore the winter wonderland

(NC) Winter brings a unique opportunity for parents and children to learn about and enjoy the great outdoors. In addition to fresh air and opportunities for exercise, Canada's beautiful landscapes deliver a tremendous opportunity for a hands-on, environmental education for the entire family.

Here are some fun-filled ways to connect to the natural environment:

• Have a winter picnic – Plan a winter day trip, filled with cozy outdoor blankets, warn winter gear and hot chocolate. Pack a litterless picnic and take in the snowy sights.

• Play spot the difference – Challenge your kids to count the differences they see outside compared to the summer months. For example, from a safe distance you can visit a local river or pond for the chilly challenge.

• Discover the world of animal tracks – Encourage children to watch for animal tracks and to guess which animal they might belong to. Take a picture of the tracks and at home, extend the lesson by searching online to match the tracks with an animal.

• Collect pine cones and fallen birch bark to bring home for craft time.

Kids love a challenge. By including an end goal or competitive angle to any of the above activities can help keep kids engaged.

“Bringing education outside, gives children an appreciation of the environment around them and will continue to help them develop a better understanding of their impact on the world, explains Mary Desjardins, Executive Director, TD Friends of the Environment Foundation.”

Each season brings with it new and unique opportunities to explore the outdoors. Learning – and family fun – doesn't have to end in the winter. Come Spring, take the kids outside to witness how animals adapt to temperature changes , how plants are taking root and where vegetation is starting to grow.

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