Winter is here! Break out the cold-weather play with your students by introducing a few fun additions. Here are simple activities to turn your classroom into a winter wonderland full of discovery for students!
Introducing the Theme
- Select books about animals in winter, winter clothing, and winter weather. Place these books around the room where children can readily review them.
- Hang pictures around the room that depict people, animals, and places in winter.
- Place on a table a basket of pairs of mittens for the children to match and a basket of single mittens and gloves near paper, markers, and crayons. Encourage the children to match the mittens (from the basket that has pairs of mittens) and to draw the missing mitten or glove (from the basket of single mittens).
- Discuss the concept of symmetry whenever the opportunity arises.
Scaffolding the Pre-Play Experience
What You’ll Need:
- Unit Blocks
- The Mitten
What to Do:
- Engage the children in a discussion about the clothing they need to wear to keep warm and what animals do during the cold weather to keep warm.
- Read The Mitten at the beginning of the pre-play circle. As each animal appears in the story, write the names of the animal on a chart. At the end of the story, begin to retell it. On a plywood board, set out a line of unit blocks. As each animal enters the mitten, increase the space between the blocks. Use the word expanded in your retelling of the story, and point out the name of the animal on the chart. At the end of the story when the mitten explodes, bring the blocks close together again. Say, “When things expand, they stretch out. When things contract, they shrink.” This adds new vocabulary words. Place several copies of The Mitten and a set of masks of the animals in the story in the dramatic play area where children can explore them.
- During the pre-scaffolding circle, introduce the play opportunities. At the close of the circle, dismiss the children in sets of one and two to play in the different centers of the classroom environment. Four children can stay to play in the block area.
Suggested Theme-Related Experiences
- Place blue and white playdough onto a table for the children to mix to create shades of blue.
- Encourage the children to name the new colors they create. Write these color words on a paper where the children can display the new color playdough they created.
- Tape different shades of 18” X 24” blue construction paper across a wall for the children’s easel painting. Offer nine colors of paint (red, yellow, green, blue, white, orange, purple, black, and brown) and three sizes of brushes. Encourage the children to mix the paint, including the white paint, to create new shades of colors. Provide small containers for this mixing.
- Provide a table with 12” X 18” pieces of dark and light blue construction paper and white chalk for drawing winter scenes. (Scribbles look great on the bulletin board!)
- Place water colored with blue food coloring into the water table. Add containers for emptying and filling. If the water table is set up for four children to play, provide four of each type of container and implement for emptying and filling, such as turkey basers, colanders, funnels, cups, and empty soap bottles.
- Hang a sheet of butcher paper on a wall. If the children make a new and interesting shade of blue, they can make handprints in the new color on the butcher paper. Ask each child what he or she wants to name the color, and then write the name of the color and the child’s name next to the handprints.
Microdramatic Play Experiences
- Place forest animals into dishpans or tubs. Cover the bottoms of the tubs with cornstarch and small pieces of ice. Add small fir trees (purchased at local craft store) and a few rocks into the cornstarch. Make this available for the children’s microdramatic play.
- When the children are outside, help them create another microdramatic play area on a table top with bears, laminated fish, rocks, and small fir trees. Use a piece of blue tarp to simulate water.
Macrodramatic Play Experiences
- Add winter shoes, hats, mitten, glove, scarves, and other winter clothes that are appropriate for your climate for the children to use in their dress-up play in the dramatic play area.
- Place a white sheet over a table to create a cave. Add soft pillows in white pillowcases to the cave. Place a few stuffed bears inside the cave to encourage the children’s dramatic play. Consider adding books to encourage quiet activity.
Find even more activities like the one above in Let's Build: Strong Foundations in Language, Math, and Social Skills.