As the winter months approach, classrooms begin to fill with rain charts, cotton ball snowflakes, and Santa hats. Here are some easy, fun winter activities for students that you can prepare at home. Perfect for a substitute teacher who doesn't want to carry glitter or paint in his or her bag.
Pre-K through Grade 1
The Mitten Project: This fun and engaging activity can be made easier for the Pre-K, and more complicated for Kinder and First. "The Mitten" by Jan Brett is a fun, Russian folk-tale about a little boy whose grandmother knits him mittens as white as snow. The boy loses a mitten and all sorts of winter animals burrow inside for warmth. After reading the book, you lead the class through the activity. The simplest version would be to simply trace your hand in the shape of a mitten to create your own template. Use a thick black marker to outline it, and make copies. Preschool students can use markers, crayons, stickers, glue and cotton balls to decorate their mittens. For older children, students can trace and cut out their own hands. Another option would be to look online for The Mitten template. It is readily available on many websites and can be found through a simple search engine. This template includes the mitten template, along with templates for each of the animals from the story. Either use two mitten templates to form a "pocket" for the animals, or use a hole-punch and yarn to connect the animals to mitten. This story and activity is a great way to teach/practice key details, chronological order, main idea, and theme. Additionally, it would be tied to units on the weather and animals.
American Winter Weather: Students in this age-range can work with more independence, and should be practicing synthesizing information. This activity could be modified depending on the tech capabilities of the school you are working in. In a low-tech environment, you could research articles at home about winter weather in different regions. In a high-tech classrooms, you can add a layer to this activity by having students do the research. Put the class in small groups, and assign each group a region of the United States: Mid-Atlantic Coast/New England, Gulf Coast/Southeast, Midwest and Plains, Rockies to the West Coast, Alaska and Hawaii. Each group uses technology or the provided article, to learn about their region and it's winter weather. Using this information, they create a poster. Each group presents their region to the rest of the class. This activity covers ELA informational standards, as well as science standards.
Holy Days from around the World: Winter holidays from around the world are filled with meaning. Students in this age-range are ready to explore other cultures and beliefs. Much like the Weather activity above, this activity can be done as a group project, with each group presenting the information they have gathered, from tech or the articles you provide, to the rest of the class. Or it can be done independently, with each student comparing and contrasting the information about two or more holidays.
These are wonderful, simple ideas of winter activities that you could do with little prep. A few templates or articles, copies to be made, and you're ready to go! These winter activities for students are sure to be a success with students of all ages.