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All right, friends. It's winter. Some days are slushy. Some days are slippery. Some days are just plain brown. Before you totally write the season off, though, come down to Fontenelle Forest and discover why winter can be so amazing.

You may think that nobody's moving out here, if you only take a quick 3-second peek out our back doors. However, once you venture a little ways down the boardwalk or the trail, you'll see clear evidence that critters are up and at 'em, all hours of the day. "What evidence?" you ask? Tracks! In the snow! Everywhere!

From tiny mouse tracks on a snow-covered log, to giant turkey footprints; tracks are in abundance right now because of the snow. And on days when the snow is melting, mud holds tracks just as well! If you want to hone your kids' observation skills, or just need a fun activity to do while playing outside in the winter, try playing Follow the Tracks – it's pretty much the most straightforward game ever. First, find some animal tracks – or people tracks! – out in nature. Then, follow them! Your kiddos may even find other evidence of that animal's activities as they trace its footsteps, like scat, feathers, or leftover food. Winter expands our nature detective skills more than any other season, because all the clues are right out in the open, ready for you to find.

If you'd like to learn more about tracking, or just have some fun in the Forest, join me at Hands-on-Habitat on February 19. You can register on ParentSavvy's website! Bring your kids ages 5 and under anytime between 9:30 am and 11:30 am for some station-based play, and make sure you bring hats and coats so you can join us for some nature detective time outdoors. You won't want to miss this great morning. See you then!

Lindsay Cooley

from Fontenelle Forest

Lindsay is an environmental educator at Fontenelle Forest in Bellevue. She was born and raised in Omaha, and is happy to be back after spending the past four years interning and working at various nature centers around the country. Lindsay has a background in environmental science, and is passionate about cultivating a love of the natural world in children and adults alike. When she's not cutting out craft materials or taking kids on hikes, Lindsay loves birdi ...

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