In another time, it’s a SnowSchool day. A bright yellow school bus pulls up to a frozen parking lot in the middle of winter. The doors swing open. Out come dozens of fifth-graders wearing puffy jackets, mittens, and hats. Today, these students are going to strap on snowshoes, romp around in the snow, dig (and fill) pits, study snow crystals, and learn about their community’s watershed and public lands.

Winter is a powerful learning environment. Snow is magic. As students hike into the forest on snowshoes, there are plenty of teachable moments when the natural world presents something exquisite. A group might pass a set of wildlife tracks between the trees, leading to a conversation about what local fauna exists around them each and every day. Or maybe they will find pinecones gnawed by a squirrel, sparking a guessing battle of which animal hibernates the longest in the winter. Or perhaps they will hear a bird’s distant song and learn for the first time about migration. They might form a snowball and learn that each and every of those snowflakes making up that snowball is unique and built up of six arms.

Below, we’ve shared inspiration and reflections from SnowSchool students who experienced the wilds of winter for the very first time. We hope it inspires and reminds you how magical snow is, too.

Looking to the coming season, we’re working hard to bring this magic to kids wherever they may be the winter through modifications like our “SnowSchool at Home” project and others (read more about what we’re doing).

“Snow is perfect for kids. You can romp around in it, dig a pit in it, measure it. You can do all of that and collect information that is relevant to science at the highest level. ”

-Kerry McClay, National SnowSchool Director