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50 Shades of Winter!

Posted: Feb 27, 2013 9:51 AM by Outdoor Mom, Maureen
Updated: Feb 27, 2013 9:51 AM

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For many moms 50 Shades of Grey is the book they're reading or the winter they're seeing. Colorado moms, however, get to experience the season's brilliant blue skies, shimmering white snowscapes, and deep green spruce trees. And many miss spotting nature's subtle pallet of pinks, yellows, and oranges. So put the book down, bundle up the kids, and head out to discover 50 shades of winter.

First, choose a forested, snowy destination with a maintained trail. Riverside walks along Fountain Creek (Best Hike 24) are a good bet for color matching and wildlife sighting. Consider a nearby park that gets little winter use, and don't forget your back yard for exploring the colors in nature.

50shades-skyNext, stop at your hardware store's paint department. Here is where you and the kids will select paint chips to match the colors they will most likely see on the hike. Choose a brand with each card showing one color in four to eight hues, deep to soft. It's a good idea to first explain to the department manager what your crew is planning to do and if the cards should be returned.

  • Start with blue. Think sky, snow in shadow, a stream. Select at least two "sky blue" type cards and read aloud the names. Will a paint named "Silver Silence" or "Startling Blue" be today's match?
  • Then pick a couple grey cards, considering aspen trunks, dirty snow, sage brush, and deciduous tree bark. Include grey green for the evergreens seen at this time of year
  • Do the same with browns for tree bark. Pick cards of dark red, yellow-greens and orange for willows and other shrubs. Include pastel shades of lavender, gold, and pink, the colors of sky and snow once the sun starts to sink.
  • Have the kids arrange their paint chip collection of 50+ Shades of Winter into a "fan deck." Encourage them to organize similar colors together. Tell them this is a tool professional decorators use to select paints for homes and office.


Begin the hike by matching the sky to a paint chip. Read the name, asking, "does it describe what we're seeing?" "What would you call this blue?" You might hear something like, "Wow, I didn't know there's so many different blue skies!" like I did with a group of second graders.

50shadestreeContinue the color quest, letting your hikers choose a paint chip to match the snow, trees, and plants they find along the trail. Notice how a color changes when in the sun and shade. Stop to compare the color of your shadow to the snow around it. Later in the day, note the snow's soft yellow cast of sunlight. Look to the horizon for shades of pink and lavender. Keep track of the "matches" by marking the paint chip or writing its name and natural partner on a list.

Back at home, use the paint chips to make a mosaic or drawing of someplace or bit of nature they "matched" during the hike. Talk about winter's colors. How are they different from fall or spring? How did sunshine and shade change the colors we saw? Did we find 50 or more shades of winter?

Maureen Keilty is the author of Best Hikes with Kids-Colorado, (Mountaineers Books, 2012

50shades-orangetree 50shades

Topics: outdoor mom, activities, winter activities, my719moms

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