Winter Themed Resources and Ideas to Kick off the New Year

Embrace the winter weather and plan fun thematic activities that excite learning during the winter months with these ideas

Winter is here, and you can feel the excitement in the air. Yes, this can be a challenging teaching time with the interruptions with snow days and the wiggles when snow is expected. Instead of battling these challenges, you might consider embracing them with thematic activities that fit your content too. 

Thematic teaching isn't always possible with every subject area, but it does help deepen learning. Vocabulary is often consistent across subjects making words more likely to stick. Winter activites and books are easy to include during these cold snowy months, and I hope you'll find ideas you can use in the post that follows.

Winter and Snowy Fun Pinterest Board

Book Recommendations

Brave Irene Reading and Writing Unit using Six TraitsBrave Irene by William Steig is one of my favorite winter books.  Irene is one amazing kid who loves her mother so much that she faces a strong, and I mean strong, winter storm to deliver her mother's beautiful gown to the princess for a ball.  It is perfect for modeling tier 2 vocabulary and the use of descriptive action verbs in writing. I use it to introduce writing about a brave moment, and each time, I am amazed at how well my students handle the prompt and learn from the book's use.

The unit I put together for Brave Irene includes reading comprehension and writing materials. You can check that out if you're interested by clicking the unit image.

Snowflakes Fall Guided Reading  Unit by Patricia MacLachla
Another favorite winter book of mine is Snowflakes Fall by Patricia MacLachlan and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Like Steig, MacLachlan has the most eloquent way of describing winter beauty.  This book was written as a tribute to the little children lost last year at Sandy Hook. As I read it the first time, I was so moved by its beauty that I had to use it with my own students. MacLachlan uses repetition throughout the book, so it works very well for students to do the same and add their own description of winter.

This unit includes before, during, and after reading activities. The activites build upon the author's craft and language used. The book is a wonderful mentor text for writing, and the unit guides you through using the book in that way.

Trouble with Trolls Guided Reading Unit by Jan Brett Winter Brett is another winter favorite if mine (and if you've been reading my blog long enough, you probably know that), and I believe I could list almost all of her titles as my favorites really. With this post, I thought I'd mentioned two, Trouble with Trolls and Annie and the Wild Animals. Both take place in Scandinavia during the winter and are perfect for studies of character and plot development, cause and effect relationships, sequencing events, summarizing, and more. Here are the links to the units I've made for these two, or you can check out my Jan Brett Author Study [here].
Snow by Cynthia Rylant Guided Reading Unit
The last book I wanted to highlight is Snow by Cynthia Rylant.  I use her books starting in the fall with Scarecrow and In November, Christmas in the Country in December, and I'll work this one in sometime in late January/Early February.

Like Snowflakes Fall, it's a beautiful description of what winter looks and sounds like. It's great for teaching sensory words and poetic language and for modeling word choice and voice.

Hands-On Activities are Snow Much Fun

If you looked through my Pinterest board above, then you will see I've been pinning for a while (on my long car trip to Iowa mostly...what else is there to do than pin and make things when you have a 15 hour drive??).  Anyway, here are a few of my favorite art, science, and writing finds.    

Snowy Sillouettes    
       Free catching snowflakes craftivity!! These are perfect for a Winter art activity.       FREEBIE! "How to build a snowman" snow globe craft and writing activity! Perfect for a winter themed display...       Snow Day Close Reading Passage   
Each of the above resources are linked, so if you want more information about them, you should find all the details in the blog posts and store links.  I used Snow Day, a Close Reading set from Common Core and So Much More last week, and the children really enjoyed it. It had a nice blend of skillwork combined with a high interest topic. We will definitely work in a few writing options in the coming weeks as well, but sadly, no art time for me unless it's with the writing.

A Very Special Snowflake by Don Hoffman Freebie
I will close with sharing one of my favorite winter reading freebies for the primary grades. This little book is so sweet. A Very Special Snowflake was a $1.00 book on Scholastic a few years ago, and I took a chance. It was written by Don Freeman, the same author as the Corduroy books, so I figured it couldn't be too bad. Well, Snowflake is the dog, and so right there, you have your kids in the palm of your hand. This freebie would work well for a winter mentor text to model story elements, summarizing, sequencing events, or cause and effect. I hope you'll enjoy the printables I'm sharing to go with it.

Technology Integration

Other Winter Themed Blog Posts

I'll leave you with one last winter teaching tip. Have you tried snowball writing? Snowball writing is a way to write collaboratively. Students write the beginning of a story, crumple the paper, and throw it at a friend. The next person writes the middle of the story, and the final student writes the end. Imagine the stories you'll hear.

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Embrace the winter weather and plan fun thematic activities that excite learning during the winter months with these fun ideas. Freebies included.


  1. I love to teach how-to writing with my kids!

  2. I like to teach about winter animals and habitats. That of course includes reading some Jan Brett books because I think they're awesome (and the kids like them, too). :)

  3. I LOVE Brave Irene, Carla ... I always thought someone should have picked up the movie option on that one! :) Thanks for the opportunity to link!

    1. So glad you came over to link up Linda. You know, it would make an amazing movie. We're finishing up our stories. The kids enjoyed it.

  4. Brave Irene is one of my favorite winter books too! :)


    1. I honestly like all of his books. I wanted to do an author study of his books, but just haven't had time. Thanks for entering Tiffany.

  5. I like to have the students make snowman venn diagrams with a partner.

  6. Replies
    1. Great idea...assuming words go on paper, are thrown, and then opened up and read. Fun!

  7. I love reading "Snowballs" by Lois Ehlert and having my class make a family project making a snowman out of "good stuff". They always look adorable and make a nice hall display.

    An Adventure in Literacy

  8. My favorite winter activity is when our Elf comes to visit. Our elf cause mischief and inspires are class to practice RAKs (Random Acts of Kindness). :)

  9. I love teaching about penguins and also making snow cream for the class if it snows.

  10. Its a toss up between my Snow and my Penguin units :-)

  11. If you have it ready, would you email me the graphic for this week's linky?


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