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Winter: Five Ideas For a Kindergarten Theme

written by: Kara Bietz • edited by: Elizabeth Wistrom • updated: 12/15/2012

Use the change in weather to introduce a winter kindergarten unit. Ideas abound for this unit, including story stretchers for Jan Brett's book, The Mitten, as well as activities for learning across the curriculum. Keep your kindergartners engaged and happy during the season of snow and cold!

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    Why Winter?

    When the weather turns colder, and all the leaves have fallen from the trees, most kindergartners' thoughts turn to snow and the approaching Use the weather to introduce a new unit. holidays. Winter is a season of changes: in weather, in clothing, in the way plants appear and animals behave. Due to the changes that take place in the climate and the environment, winter makes a great theme for kindergarten. Use the change in weather and the world around you to create a fun and engaging unit!

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    Ideas Across the Curriculum

    Science: Allow the children to explore ice. Place two ice cubes on trays in various parts of the classroom such as near windows, by the classroom door, and near heating vents. Have the children create observation drawings of the ice as it slowly begins to melt. Create observation books by hour, noting the changes in the ice cubes. Add salt to one of the two cubes on the tray. Does the ice melt slower or faster than the cube with no salt?

    Art: Make paper pattern scarves. Use a large piece of construction paper, cut in half lengthwise. Use paper scraps cut in different shapes to create a line of patterns on the scarves. Use scissors to create fringe on the edge of the scarves. As an extension idea, create a scarf with the beginning of a pattern and have the children continue the pattern.

    Math: Make a temperature graph. Gather data over a week or two using a digital thermometer. Create a bar graph of the temperatures you collected over the time period. Make comparisons as you study the graph, noting if the temperature rose and fell. As a more challenging activity, take two temperature readings each day, one in the morning and one right after lunch. Is it colder or warmer in the morning? Be sure to take the readings at the same time each day, in the same place.

    Language Arts: Create matching mittens. Have the children cut out construction paper mittens. Write uppercase letters on one set of mittens, lowercase on another. Allow children to play a self-directed matching game using the mittens. You can create matching mittens for rhyming sight words, also.

    Library: The following is a list of some of the titles to include in your classroom library during a winter kindergarten unit. The Mitten by Jan Brett 

    • The Mitten by Jan Brett
    • Curious George in the Snow by Margaret and H.A. Rey
    • Snowmen at Night by Carolyn Buehner
    • The Shortest Day: Celebrating the Winter Solstice by Wendy Pfeffer
    • There Was a Cold Lady by Lucille Colandro
    • Poppleton in Winter by Cynthia Rylant
    • The First Day of Winter by Denise Fleming
    • The Three Snow Bears by Jan Brett
    • Emperor Penguins New Clothes by Janet Periman

    Some other ideas you can include is discussing hibernation, what happens to the leaves after they fall from the trees, and snow. As story stretcher ideas, you can use Jan Brett's book, The Mitten, to open a lesson on ordinal numbers. Acting out the story can help children decide which animal went into the mitten first, second, third, etc. Winter affords many interesting opportunities to learn. Do you have any more ideas?

References

  • "Creative Activities for Young Children"; Mary Mayesky; 1995
  • Photo credit: http://morguefile.com/archive/display/724367
  • "Story Stretchers: Activities to Expand Children's Favorite Books"; Shirley Raines and Robert J. Canady; 1989