You may be thinking, “I can barely get my child into clothes – how am I supposed to dress my child for cold, wet, and snow?”
Most of each day, Apple Orchard learners are outside, so dressing for the weather is critical. We often say “there is no such thing as bad weather…only bad gear.” The key premise is versatility.
On the farm, inside the barn can be very cold and damp, but outside in the sun can be warm. Your child is warmer running up and down a hill versus sitting listening to a story. In addition to watching the thermometer, there is rain or snow or wind, and sometimes, all three at once! Children will feel comfortable in all temperatures if they are dressed in layers.
What kind of cold are we talking about?
25-40 degrees is cold, but if dry very manageable.
15-25 degrees we opt to keep the kids moving and they come in for warm up breaks.
Under 15 degrees we are inside as the chance of frost bite to any exposed skin is a big concern.
Please keep in mind that being cold DOES NOT cause you to get the flu or a virus.
Here are some thoughts for winter dressing with the right gear and options for a reliable winter clothing uniform for your learner:
#1 The Base Layer
Cotton, while soft, IS NOT good for the cold. The moment it is wet it sticks to skin and doesn’t dry. Instead of cotton, opt for wool or silk – a long sleeve pant and shirt set, kind of like long underwear. This base layer dries quickly when wet and also has the wondrous property of regulating your child’s temperature even when wet.
Also opt for winter wool or silk socks and (thin) wool mittens. We like Smartwool socks. A variety of woolen socks of various thickness are at Polarn O’Pyret – medium thick rib wool is best for deep winter.
Mittens are better than gloves because they are better at retaining heat and easier for your preschooler to put on. You can layer thin wool mittens underneath insulated waterproof mittens. Kids will want to take off the bulkier outer mittens in order to eat snack or do any fine motor play.
As a backup, consider a high-tech, polyester base layer. If your child is highly sensitive to sensory input, look for brand reviews that specifically talk about whether children find it itchy (or not). Start looking early in the season as wool base layers sell out quickly. Brand recommendations include:
#2 The Mid Layer
Although not an adequate base layer, as a mid-layer, fleece is a great option. Fleece pants and a fleece jacket will help your child stay nice and toasty on cold days. Also consider a fleece or wool neck warmer and hat.
#3 The Outer Layer
There are many options when it comes to jackets, snow pants, snow suits, snow boots, and snow mittens. Most importantly, be sure to choose options that are well insulated and waterproof. How do you know if an item you’re considering is insulated and waterproof? If the “item description” online or the sales tag doesn’t say it, it’s probably not. An example of a good insulated and waterproof boot – Bogs (the insulated version). Hats are best if they cover the ears.
Wool is not cheap. Bogs are not cheap. Check out discounted sites like
We understand all of this can be $ costly $, especially with the habit children have of growing! In early fall we offer a clothing swap. We ask AO families to drop off outdoor gear and boots that no longer fit their child. We put out large plastic laundry baskets sorted by type of item so parents can look for what they need. Please keep an eye out for a communication on exact dates in early September.
The Key is Layering, Layering, and more Layering
In colder weather, layers are important for keeping your child’s core warm, which will keep the rest of their body warm.
In sum, key winter clothing items are:
Wool or silk base layer (long sleeve pants and shirt)
Thin wool mittens
Wool or silk socks specifically for winter
Wool or fleece hat that covers the ears, or a balaclava
Fleece or silk neck warmer (if not using a balaclava)
Insulated and waterproof jacket and pants (or one piece, but in the case of potty-trained preschoolers, think about clothing that is easiest to get on and off)
Insulated and waterproof boots
Insulated and waterproof mittens
On super cold days, consider hand warmers, reusable or one-time use. You can opt for thin wool mittens, with thin stretchy “magic” mittens over them, with insulated, waterproof mittens over them. With the proper clothing, your child can be warm and happy on even the coldest of days on the farm!
Our teachers’ sanity is important!
Last, but definitely not least, please, please, please label everything! You worked hard to get the right gear, so please help us keep track of it. How hard is it to keep track of a child’s hat you wonder? Hard! When there are 98 heads wearing a hat and they all come off during a sunny moment, that’s a lot of hats to match to students, so thank you.