Winter can be a fun and exciting season for a wide variety of learning opportunities, if you are practical, flexible and enthusiastic. There is no need for children or adults to feel penned-in or bored during the winter months. Just switch your priorities, as folks have done through history, to make the most of both the time indoors and the recreational possibilities outdoors while they last!
In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Be ready for blustery days and long winter evenings with a stockpile of fun activities like these mazes, coloring pages, crafts, games, stationery and more.
Special academic exercises can also provide fun and challenging indoor diversions. Diane from Conceptual Learning shares “Exchange” an interesting math exercise for ages 5-7. http://www.amonco.org/winter5/montessori_winter5.pdf
Here are a variety of fun, warm indoor activities to consider. http://voices.yahoo.com/fun-indoor-winter-activities-keep-kids-warm-knitting-760361.html?cat=25
Cooking is definitely a great way to learn, have fun, and keep warm at the same time. Ethnic foods, comfort foods, and baked goods are all especially enticing and interesting when the weather turns cooler.
There aren’t many cuisines that are heartier or more satisfying than Germany’s. Get started with Anna and Wolfgang’s easy recipes for a German Farmer’s Breakfast (bauernfruhstuck) and German Potato Soup (kartojelsuppe). http://www.amonco.org/winter7/montessori_winter7.pdf Find more great German recipes here: http://www.kitchenproject.com/german/german_food_recipes.htm
You might also enjoy these other resources for more cool weather recipes.
When it’s too cold or wet to have outdoor adventures, reading is always a cozy activity. Spark children’s imaginations with exciting fiction.
Rita from Literatureplace.com submits some ideas in “Fables, Myths, and Legends: The Origins of Today’s World Cultures”. http://www.amonco.org/winter2/montessori_winter2.pdf
For more on how to incorporate children’s literary heroes and heroines into lesson plans, check out this interesting article. http://www.educationoasis.com/bc/articles/exploringheroes.htm
This article from the UK discusses the decline in knowledge of and interest in classic children’s fiction. If classics are, by definition, the “standard” by which other literature is judged, is it not a shame that many young people are no longer being exposed to these timeless works and characters? http://www.worcester.ac.uk/discover/closing-the-book-on-classic-childrens-literary-heroes.html
In the following article, famous UK authors share their favorite literary characters. Many of these are from adult books, so they aren’t necessarily all pertinent or appropriate for discussion with your students. However, some of the authors do cite children’s literature. This can help start a conversation about how many adults still value many of the same books your students are reading now, as well as how a love of reading can last your whole lifetime. http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/features/the-100-favourite-fictional-characters-as-chosen-by-100-literary-luminaries-526971.html
Winter is also a great time to explore the arts.
Here are 10 great tips for getting children interested in classical music. http://www.bachtrack.com/for-kids-top-tips
Marjorie Kiel Persons’ Classical Magic and Back-to-Bach http://back-to-bach.com/ materials add lyrics to classical pieces to help children engage with and remember the music. She also offers many lesson ideas relating to Vivaldi’s “Winter” and other classical pieces. http://www.amonco.org/winter7/montessori_winter7.pdf
Want more ideas? http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Introducing_Arts/
When it is time to explore and “shake out the sillies”, bundle up and head outdoors. You will find lots to see and do!
Here are a list of varied winter activities for families, inside and out. http://stayathomemoms.about.com/od/activitiesandfun/tp/Winter-Fun-For-Kids.htm
If you live where there is snow that stays a long time, make it a family project to clear a network of paths so kids, adults, guests, and even pets can get their daily exercise without getting super-snowy. This cute family video gives you a tour of the pathway network in their yard. They seem to be having lots of fun! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrPEi8m7aO8
For more outdoor fun ideas, check out these snow day activities! http://www.parents.com/fun/activities/outdoor/snow-activities-kids/
To keep things as fun as possible (because no one wants to be too cold), here are some tips for staying warm when enjoying the outdoors in winter. http://www.mnn.com/family/family-activities/blogs/toasty-tots-keeping-kids-warm-in-winter
The Iowa Department of Public Health, Healthy Child Care Iowa, provides a useful and interesting matrix for parents and child care providers to gauge the safety of outdoor activities in different weather conditions. http://www.in.gov/fssa/files/weatherwatch.pdf
Many cities in wintery areas have informational websites with winter recreational and safety ideas. Do an internet search for one near you for more inspiration and resources.
Even in severe winter areas, winter can be an interesting time to start or continue nature journaling. Bare tree branches and smooth snowbanks can provide a good background for children to see wildlife, and paying close attention to your local winter landscape makes the beginning of spring growth and activity even more exciting. Slower changes during winter may also make it easier to get some students into the habit of noticing the details of the environment around them.
The Smithsonian Institution has some helpful hints to help get you started. http://www.smithsonianeducation.org/educators/lesson_plans/journals/smithsonian_siyc_fall06.pdf
Animals have many interesting ways to keep warm, survive and find food during winter weather conditions which are too harsh for humans. What better time to discuss these special strategies and physical features than when you are outside in the cold yourself. Children may be able to better put themselves in the animals’ place, because although the students can go inside to warm up, animals cannot. Get the conversation started with information from Dale Gausman’s “Acting Out How Animals Survive Winter” http://www.amonco.org/winter3/montessori_winter3.pdf and the Animals in Winter Unit Study. http://www.amonco.org/winter4/montessori_winter4.pdf
Visual learners will especially enjoy this neat video from New Hampshire Public Television, which shows naturalists looking for tracks and other evidence of animal presence in a snowy woods. http://video.nhptv.org/video/2238002342/
Remember, there is lots of life and learning to experience, indoors and out, all winter long, if you plan to enjoy it!
The world is so full of a number of things,
I’m sure we should all be as happy as kings.
Robert Louis Stevenson