Early winter can be a tough time in kindergarten classrooms. Students are either gearing up for winter break or are trying to readjust after returning from break. Either way, it is important to keep them engaged, and the best way I have found to do that is with winter-themed hands-on activities.
You can use hands-on activities as morning tub activities, as literacy and math centers, or even as early finisher activities. When choosing the best hands-on winter activities for your classroom, here are some things to keep in mind:
#1 Choose Activities with Fun Themes
While the content of any hands-on activities are going to be the most important thing to consider, you may also want to consider the themes of the activities you put in your morning tubs or centers. I like to choose themes that my students are already excited about. In December, that usually means Christmas or Gingerbread men. When we return to school in January, students are thinking about snow and snowmen.
With that in mind, I plan my activities appropriately and have things like a gingerbread gumdrop uppercase and lowercase letter match or a snowman-themed domino counting game. I may even change between the themes throughout the month so that students consistently see new hands-on games.
#2 Supplies on Hand
Something else to consider when choosing the best hands-on winter activities for your classroom is the supplies you already have on hand. When I design center materials, I always try to think about supplies that teachers typically have in their classroom. Sometimes dice or dominos are some of the required materials to do certain hands-on activities, like in the example mentioned above. However, if you don’t already have those things on hand, you will probably want to choose different activities, unless you plan to purchase more classroom supplies.
#3 Easy Storage
Another consideration to make when choosing winter activities for your centers, morning tubs, or early finishers is how easily you can store the materials. If you plan to use the same materials year after year, you don’t want centers that require a lot of classroom space. You can easily and neatly store most of the activities mentioned in 4×6 photo boxes. Some teachers store their center materials in binders or plastic baggies, as well. Regardless of which storage method you use, you want to make sure that you can easily store the activities you choose.
#4 Predictable Activities
When you choose the right hands-on winter activities for your classroom, it is also important to think about predictable activities for your students. After all, your students will likely complete them during independent time, and you want students to be able to complete them independently. If you use them as morning tubs, you will likely be working on morning tasks. If you use them as centers or early finisher activities, you will probably be helping other students or working in small groups.
Either way, you need your students to be able to look at the activity and instinctively know what type of task they need to do with the given materials. Otherwise, they will come to you to get directions or simply not engage with the activity at all.
The right hands-on winter activities will keep your students engaged, even through those cold, dreary days. That is why it is important to choose the right ones by considering what materials you already have, what themes to focus on, and what will be straightforward for your students. If you plan to use the same winter activities from year to year, it is also important to consider storage options, so you can keep using activities that you know your students will love!