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 activities 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.
Snowy Fun Teaching Resources
Winter Book Recommendations:
Brave Irene by William Steig is one of my favorite winter books. Irene is one amazing kid who loves her mother. She faces a 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. Each time, I am amazed at how 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.
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 activities 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 and Annie and the Wild Animals
Jan Brett is another winter favorite if mine (and if you’ve been reading my blog long enough, you probably know that). 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. I really love them both.
Snow by Cynthia Rylant
Another author I love is Cynthia Rylant, and for a winter theme, I want to highlight the title, Snow . I use Rylant’s books starting in the fall with Scarecrow and In November, Christmas in the Country in December, and I 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.
Snowflake Bentley is the last book I’d like to spotlight. It gives teachers the opportunity to add in nonfiction, and we know how important that is.
This unit includes a lapbook you can use to explore William Bentley’s life and learn about how snowflakes are formed.
Hands-on Activities for Winter
I love combining art with writing prompts we do With all of these books, you probably see they all lend themselves well to descriptive writing. These art ideas would work well with writing pieces you do.
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 skill work 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.
Free Resource with the book, A Very Special Snowflake
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 Snowflakewas 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.
- Winter Themed Technology Ideas
- ABCYA Make a Snowman Activity
- Code a Snowflake
- Make a Flake Activity for Upper
Other Winter Themed Blog Posts
- Creating Imagery with Dogteam
- Warm Up Winter with Mitten Fun
- Teaching Main Idea with Animals in Winter
- The Ultimate Guide to Penguin Fun
- The Magic of Jan Brett
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.