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Winter Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Out of the four seasons, winter is by far the chilliest of them all! Learn the causes of this freezing season, as well as the effects that it has on the winter, plants and animals.

What Causes Winter?

It is wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere in the picture on the right because the North Pole is pointed away from the sun

The topic of winter is on thin ice, even if it is pretty cool (get it?)! Winter is the coldest of the four seasons. Just like the other three seasons, winter is caused by the tilt in the Earth's axis. It is winter when the Earth is tilted away from the sun, so there is little sunlight hitting the Northern Hemisphere. Think about it like this - let's say that you and your friends are sitting in front of a fire in the fireplace. The friend who is sitting the furthest away from the fireplace will feel the least amount of heat. In the United States, as well as the other countries in the Northern Hemisphere, winter begins in December because that is when the sun's rays are the least direct. In countries in the Southern Hemisphere, like Australia, winter begins in June.

The first official day of winter is called winter solstice. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter solstice falls between December 20 and 22. It is the shortest day of the year, so it will get dark much earlier than usual. It may look like it is time for bed, but you haven't even eaten dinner yet! While there is a short period of time where the days and nights are almost equal in length, the days become shorter and the nights become longer during the winter time. This change is more extreme in areas that are further from the equator (an imaginary line drawn around the earth), like New York City.

Winter Weather

Washington DC during a blizzard in 2010

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