PBS in the Classroom

5 Ways to Learn, Explore and Celebrate Winter All Year

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Winter is here along with the sights, sounds and unique elements of the season. We all look forward to December’s winter break and the holiday season, but there can be other cold weather activities we can look forward to throughout all of winter - or the year! As teachers, we are constantly seeking ways to make the classroom experience fun and engaging. What better time than winter to dig up some fun lesson plans of the season? Incorporating winter into activities within the classroom not only makes things more fun for your students but it gives teachers something to look forward to as well! 

Here are 5 ways to celebrate the winter season in your classroom: 

1. Incorporate Winter into All Subjects
Winter is fun to discuss no matter what subject you’re teaching. In English and Language Arts classes, winter themes can be incorporated in rhyming and vocabulary activities your students are working on.  In Science, your class can chart winter temperatures or learn about patterns to make snowflakes. Students can use snow to do science experiments or learn how animals adapt in freezing temperatures - many fascinating scenarios to explore and discuss. In Social Studies, teachers can help widen your students’ understanding of other cultures and integrate life experiences of others by teaching winter activities and holidays from around the world. 

2. Have a Winter Celebration
Christmas is just behind us but it can be tempting to have a Christmas party during the winter. We know that not all students celebrate Christmas. If a holiday party was to occur, it should encompass all winter holidays and not be Christmas-centric.  If you choose to stay away from holiday celebrations all together, a winter party may be your best option. This may look like playing winter games, watching winter films, making puffy paint snowmen, and decorating tasty winter treats. Ask your students and bring in their ideas for making a winter holiday party fun and entertaining.

3. Play Winter Games & Activities
Having students play games and participate in activities during center time, brain breaks or recess could be a great way to incorporate winter as well. Some game ideas are winter bingo, building marshmallow snowmen, and numerous winter art activities. Looking for ideas? No worries! You can find wonderful winter games, lesson starters and activities from PBS LearningMedia below. 

  • Grades Pre-K & K: Winter Bingo | What I Wear Outside |What to Wear in Russia
  • Grades 1 & 2: Animals in Alaska | Molly of Denali Dog Sled  | A Winter Scene
  • Grades 3 & 4: Native American Winter Count  | Pilgrims: The First Winter
  • Grades 5 & 6: Surviving Winter  |   Nova: Frozen Frogs

4. Take Your Class Outside to Experience Winter
Winter feels different. Bring your class outside to experience the smells, sounds and tastes of the chill. Experience the great outdoors by enjoying recess outside, searching for hidden creatures in the dirt or under trees, bringing an art activity outside, or playing in the snow. Encourage them to use their knowledge of shapes to make a snowman and snowballs. Snow angels and catching snowflakes with their tongues will also be a big hit with your students. 

5. Read Books about the Winter Experience 
The best way to introduce any topic to students is to read them a book. Books teleport students to a different world. Even if they’ve never seen a drop of snow or know what a traditional winter is like, they will learn about the experience with a book in their hand. Some of my favorite winter children’s books are:

  • The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats
  • Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer
  • The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
  • There was a Cold Lady who Swallowed Some Snow! by Lucille Colandro
  • Together for Kwanza by Juwanda G. Ford
  • All About Hanukkah by Madeline Wikler
  • The Legend Of St. Nicholas by Dani Daley Mackall
  • The Shortest Day by Wendy Pfeffer
  • The Night of Las Posadas by Tomie dePaola

Winter activities and books are fun for all because not all students know what winter is like. Winter is the perfect time to introduce students to different customs, cultures, animals, activities and more to explore the world. Have fun learning about the most wonderful time of the year, all year long!

Kristen Harris

Kristen Harris Educator

Kristen Harris serves as an educator in Atlanta, Georgia. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction. Kristen’s philosophy is with the right tools and mindset, any child can learn and any teacher can feel supported. Kristen helps to educate teachers on self-care, mindfulness, and how to manage students. Outside of teaching, writing, and presenting, Kristen loves traveling and spending time with family and friends.

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