It’s that time of year! If you live in a place that snows, you know how magical and special Winter can be. You also know what a PITA shoveling your driveway and scraping ice off your car windows is, but let’s forget that for a moment and focus on how you can turn that snowy magic excitement into engaging, winter activities for kids.
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When students come back from winter break, I liked to ease them into the somewhat difficult transition back to school with a read aloud about snow. I followed up the read aloud with a conversation about what I did during Winter Break and ask students to pair-share (knees to knees please) about their own Winter Break activities. Some students visited family, some played outside, and a handful pretty much stayed indoors. It’s important to remember students have different backgrounds and family lives, and teachers cannot assume every child has a wonderful time away from school, let alone builds a snowman during Winter Break. This writing activity is an opportunity for students to share what they did, no matter what it was. I really enjoyed reading more about what kinds of things my students do away from school and it always feels like I am getting to know them as people and not just kids. You can download the Winter Writing paper from my Free Resource Library by signing up below.
Another fun activity to help that transition back to school go smoothly is a little rock painting. The great thing about rock painting is that you can even do directed drawings on rocks. First, you’ll need to collect the rocks. I prefer smooth and flat rocks for this kind of painting. For these Snowmen At Night paintings, I recommend that you spray paint all of the rocks with a navy color first (adding the background color goes much faster with spray paint). You may need a couple of spray paint coats (and you don’t need to do both sides of the rock). I also LOVE LOVE LOVE using paint markers for rock painting (you’ll need to preteach how to take care of these special markers and discuss the importance of not using too much pressure if you want them to last). You can have students draw the carrot cone first (in orange). Then, students can draw the white head going around each side of the carrot. After the white paint dries, students can add the eyes and smile. Show students how the snowman can be looking up by placing the eyes on each side of the carrot, or a side perspective by placing the eyes above the carrot. Add some snowflake dots and outline in black and you’re done!
Another fun Winter activity you can do with your class are Strip Puzzles. You cut them up on the lines and students have to put them in order. The great thing about these Strip Puzzles is that they’re editable, which means you can have students practice putting numbers in order from 1-10, counting up or down by 10’s starting at any number, solving equations, fraction order, or even incorporating literacy by using them for vocabulary or spelling words. Plus, you can have students with different ability levels working with the same picture, just different skill sets on the bottom (expert teacher hack!).
You can try it out for yourself by getting this Editable Penguin Puzzle in my Free Resource Library here.
And of course no January is complete without some Winter Math activities! Target Dollar spot has the BEST mini erasers that are PERFECT for math manipulatives. I created these centers with mini erasers in mind, but really you can use whatever you have on hand (unifix cubes, play doh, beans, red/yellow counters, etc.). You can see what else is included with the Winter Centers here.
In that same bundle of centers, I also include an editable writing activity Polar Bear Craft, which would be perfect for writing some winter poetry. But, it is editable so you can easily change that “My Winter Poem” to any writing prompt you like. My favorite part about these crafts is that they’re simple color, cut and paste, which means students can focus on the important piece…the writing! I always liked to keep a list of Winter Words for reference and brainstorming, as well as spelling help. You can find the polar bear Winter craft and Winter Words here.
And I know these name activities are silly, but students LOVE them. You can ask for volunteers and read them aloud during snack or just send a copy home for students to do with their families. Always a hit and giggle inducing from preschoolers to adults (my husband is almost 40 and he loves it). You can grab it for free here.
Have you seen these Editable Winter Escape Rooms?! They are seriously so fun! You can edit the tasks so they fit what you’re already learning and you can differentiate so you have different ability levels working on different tasks (which would also make this an amazing activity to show off during an observation). There are five different editable tasks, and as groups complete each task, they earn a puzzle piece and move on to the next task. Each of the five tasks comes with a little story to explain what is happening and “set the stage” to keep students engaged. For instance, this Snowman Escape Room turns the students into snowmen at night that are wanting to explore the world, but they have to get back to their yard before sunrise!
When students have finished all five tasks, they can put together the puzzle to “escape” the game and earn a certificate. You can find the Winter Escape Room here and a bundle of all the Holiday Escape Rooms here.
If you teach second grade or higher, these giant paper snowflakes make a great art activity to follow up with your Snowflake Bentley read aloud. You can watch the full tutorial video here (I recommend making a couple of them first so you get the hang of it and can focus on helping your students when they’re making theirs).
Another fun winter activity you can do with your class is directed drawing. This Penguin Directed Drawing comes with optional calendar pages, but you may decide you just want to do a directed drawing each month instead. It comes as a PowerPoint file with printable drawing and writing pages, and you can display the steps one at a time on your screen, or you could draw along with your students on the whiteboard as you go. You can download the Directed Drawing Bundle here.
And I might be alone on this, but January has always seemed to be a good time to switch things up a little and try new things. I made these Color by Book Monthly Reading Log pages that would be perfect for keeping track of reading at home (you could also use them at school). The basic idea is that every time a student reads a book, they color an image. They could scribble a color on top, or you could let them use true colors and actually color the images. It’s like a fun little reward after reading, and it’s easy for those primary kids to do independently. You can download the Color by Book Reading Log here.
And last but not least, I compiled a list of my favorite Winter books for kids. You can click on any of the books to see them on Amazon (as well as a few other Winter read aloud favorites).
So that’s it! I hope you were able to get some fun Winter ideas to do with your class! Please feel free to share what you do with your own students to celebrate Winter in the comments below, I’d love to hear from you.
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