The winter months can be a tough time in kindergarten classrooms. During this time, students are gearing up for winter break or readjusting after returning from break. As students are preparing for winter, it's crucial to plan fun winter activities for them to keep them engaged. The best way to keep students engaged is through hands-on activities.
Hands-on activities are a great way to engage young children in learning when the cold weather starts to roll in. In addition, hands-on activities are perfect for introducing sensory play and fine motor practice. Since these activities require your students to use their senses and fine motor skills, they make a great addition to your lesson plans! Plus, you can incorporate all kinds of winter elements like pine cones, hot chocolate, winter clothing, a snowball fight, a snowman craft, and more!
You can use hands-on activities for morning tub activities, literacy and math centers, or even early finisher activities. I love incorporating hands-on activities during the winter time because it livens up the mood and keeps students focused despite being easily distracted! So, for this article, I decided to round up my best tips for using hands-on winter activities in your kindergarten classroom to make learning more fun for your kindergarten students. Keep reading to uncover how you can use these tips in your classroom when the winter weather rolls around!
#1 Choose Activities with Fun Themes
Themes play a crucial role in the effectiveness of hands-on activities. For example, I like to choose themes that my students are already excited about. For example, in December, my students are focused on Christmas or Gingerbread men. On the other hand, when we return to school in January, students are thinking about snow and snowmen. So, I think of different ways to incorporate fun ideas into my winter lessons to get my students excited about learning!
For example, I have a gingerbread gumdrop uppercase and lowercase letter match or a snowman-themed domino counting game. I also have a Directed Drawings Winter Activity that incorporates arctic animals like penguins and polar bears! For morning work specifically, I have January Morning Tub Activities that include elements of the winter season! I may even change between the themes throughout the month so that students consistently see new hands-on games. Choosing themed activities for your students is a fun way to incorporate elements from before and after the holiday season!
#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 simple supplies that teachers typically have in their classrooms. For example, dice or dominos are some of the required materials for hands-on activities. However, if you don’t already have those things on hand, you may 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 for future use.
#4 Predictable Activities
Predictability is important when choosing hands-on winter activities for your classroom. After all, your students will likely complete them independently, which means the activities need to be predictable. For example, morning tub hands-on activities should focus on morning tasks. In addition, activities for a learning center or early finisher activities may require you to help other students or have students work in small groups.
Either way, you need your students 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 not engage with the activity at all. In addition, repetition is key for kindergarten kids. So, that means your students may use different skills to understand the same concept.
The Importance of Hands-On Activities in Kindergarten
The right hands-on winter activities will keep your students engaged, even on those cold, dreary days. That is why it is vital to choose fun activities that focus on fun themes, current supplies, and student usability. If you plan to use the same winter activities from year to year, it's important to consider storage options. Ease of storage enables you to keep using the same activities year after year!