How do you deal with wintertime with your students? I have some great ideas that will save you so much time!
Do your students love a snow day? Mine always do, but unfortunately, in the state of Alabama, we rarely see snow. When we do it’s a major event and the schools can be closed for days!
In the meantime, kids are fascinated with snow – even if we don’t see those flakes falling – so when I can, I bring that snow right into what we are studying or into our engineering projects. It adds a little bit of fun and makes learning a blast!
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This Round-Up post will give you some amazing ideas for adding winter events to your classroom:
- STEM Projects
- Math Activities
- Escape Rooms
- Snowflake Flipper Booklet
- Winter Books
Let’s start with STEM!
I have a fabulous trio of STEM Challenges that all bring snow into the classroom.
Igloos are definitely part of our wintertime activities!
I remember building a snow fort when I was a little girl, but my students rarely see enough snow to build one of these, much less an igloo.
The igloo challenge has students learning about igloos and then building an igloo model. This seems like such a simple task, but it turned out to be challenging. Making the arched entryway to the igloo and the rounded dome was definitely a problem to solve.
We learned to make the arch or dome using lightweight card stock and then covering it with our snowballs. We had some great discussions about the uses of an igloo. Did you know these are not typically used as homes for cold weather locations? They tend to be temporary dwellings- like for a fisherman.
TIP: You need bottles of white glue! The ones that worked best for us allowed free-flowing glue. Bottles that clogged were very frustrating. You also have to be very patient while you wait on the glue to dry.
Snowflakes – Perfect Winter Time Project
Our next project was to create a snowflake model. We watched some videos about how snowflakes are formed and also looked at close-up photos of different types of snowflakes. We learned so much with this project!
Students chose from an array of materials and they had to purchase the materials. Using a budgeted amount of money makes the students think more about the construction and less about taking some of every kind of material available.
TIP: Use a budget feature with STEM Challenges to provoke more thinking! I do this whenever we have a large array of materials. Students use a cost sheet and plan for the materials they need based on their design. It is so much fun to watch them bargain over buying 3 straws or 4 straws. I let mine use a calculator and revisit the materials- if they have money left over!
Build a Snowman Model
This was by far the most surprising challenge for me. Many of my students had never built a snowman and learning the basics made this interesting. Of course, it was also interesting because we used newspaper and toilet tissue for the project!
Students had access to as much newspaper as they needed but I limited the amount of toilet tissue. Team after team had to start over when they ran out of tissue. They really wanted very large snowmen and this did not work at all. The most fun was decorating the snowmen. My kids didn’t just add carrot noses. They added goggles and scarves and made their snowmen into characters – like minions!
TIP: Keep wet cloths on hand when using newspaper. Hands get covered with the ink and then smear onto the tabletops or the projects. I keep a bin of wet cloths that students can grab when they need one. I also use real washcloths – not paper towels. Paper towels cost too much!
Time for Some Winter Math
The first math sheets I created for my STEM Lab came about when I needed a sub and just didn’t have a STEM Challenge I wanted to leave with a person unfamiliar with engineering projects. So I invented a math sheet that would be challenging yet useful for the students. Since then I have added several different themed math sets to my collection.
The set I have for upper elementary has winter science facts on every sheet. Those fun trivia facts are a great way to get kids engaged as they begin a math practice sheet.
The math set for lower grades 3-4 has facts about winter weather. What a great way to add some science and math to your classroom!
TIP: Keep some themed sets of worksheets available in your sub-folder or binder so your emergency substitute can make copies as needed. These are also great for homework or for students that finish activities early.
Escape Rooms or Breakouts
Escape Room Adventures are such a big hit with my kids! They beg to do these every week, but I just cannot invent them that quickly.
This one featuring winter sports was great for last winter when the Winter Olympics was being held. This Escape Room is about winter sports and can be used at any time- not just during the Olympic years.
Students solve map puzzles, math sheets, and match items to their meanings to unlock three boxes. Unlocking each box leads to the next task. Unlocking the last box leads to a STEM Challenge! The STEM Challenge included with this Escape Room is to build a ski lift chair that you can add to a lift line stretched across your classroom. My kids LOVED this Escape Room and the challenge!
TIP: Don’t worry about having to purchase boxes and locks. My Escape Rooms give you hints about what to use and include a “paper lock” system that requires only copying the page with the lock numbers for kids to mark with a pencil. Or, you can try one of my “no-locks” sets. Keep reading…
If you are not quite ready for an Escape Room with locks- here is a NO LOCKS version! The Scenario: The team is hiking through a canyon when it begins to snow. They must complete four tasks to escape the snowstorm. Students complete these tasks:
- Snowman Math (subtract or multiply)
- Match categories to objects
- Solve a secret code message
- Math Target (add or multiply)
Students earn a snowflake for each task that is completed. Earning a snowflake means they have “unlocked” the task!
Little Flipper Booklet
Kids love making these mini booklets and the one I have for wintertime is about snowflakes.
These are great to use after reading aloud a book about snow or snowflakes. What if you are studying about the weather? This booklet is perfect! Also, what about those emergency sub days? Those days happen to all of us, but having an engaging task for kids to complete and learn from is a spectacular activity to leave with your sub for the day.
This flipper booklet has seven pages. Kids write about how snowflakes are formed, sketch different types of snowflakes, match vocabulary words and meanings, and complete research on their own. You have a choice of covers in full color or in black/white!
TIP: Use colored pencils to color parts of the booklet. Markers tend to bleed through paper and can be too messy for these mini booklets.
How About a Fun Activity (with some real content)?
Yes! Real content and a creative fun activity! Here’s a color-by-number set featuring winter scenes and math problems. It’s an easy-prep set of 5 worksheets with carrying degrees of difficulty.
The skills are perfect for your 3rd and 4th graders.
Use these for:
- Small groups
- Early finishers
- Sub days!
- Morning work
- And so much more!
I hope you have grabbed some ideas from this post to get your students up and moving and totally engaged through the long winter months- whether it snows on you or not! Click any of the images to see details.
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