Returning from break can be hard for teachers AND students. I love easing back into routines with some of my favorite winter-themed activities and centers. These keep my students engaged while I make sure we remember how to transition, work independently, and access classroom supplies.
It was hard not to share ALL of my favorites, but here are my top ten winter-themed math and literacy activities:
Winter Words: ABC Order
Sorting words into alphabetical order is a skill that our students can always use extra practice with. For this winter-themed center activity, students start by cutting out a set of winter words (yay for fine motor practice!) Next students sort the words into alphabetical order and write the words on the recording page. There are so many ways that our students can access this word-sorting activity:
- Kids can work together in pairs or small groups.
- We can choose words for our students to sort, maybe using just-right words, or a smaller set of words, or only words that start with different letters.
- Students can add challenge by making their own list of winter words to add to the sort.
Fact Family Snowmen
Do you want to build a snow man? What about a Fact Family Snowman? Fact Family Snowmen is a winter-themed activity that works for independent work, or with partners or small groups. Students draw a snowman card from the deck of fact families. Using that fact family, students write two addition and two subtraction number sentences on their recording sheets. This becomes a never-ending center as students continue to choose from the deck of over sixty fact families or work with peers to make sure they’ve gotten both addition and subtraction number sentences written accurately.
Letting my students curl up with a good book (often with our virtual fireplace projected on the board), is a great way to allow students time to relax and regain a sense of calm after the break. I love to have a shelf dedicated specifically to winter-themed books for students to select from. If you’re looking for new titles, you can check out all of my favorite winter-themed books HERE!
Making Words- Winter Addition
My students are very used to making words now that they’ve got a few months of literacy centers under their belts. But let me tell you, they get so excited for winter making words. In this activity, students work backward, beginning with the winter-themed mystery word and finding ALL of the words they can build using those letters. Students, again, get that fine motor practice when they cut out the letters. This also gives them the chance to physically manipulate the letters as they make words.
Students can work with partners or independently to make as many words as they can using those letters. This winter literacy activity self-differentiates, allowing students to build words at their just-right level.
My students absolutely love any chance they can get to play bump. The thrill of bumping a piece off the game board and the strategy of locking a space makes this one of my favorite never-ending centers, too. From single-digit addition to double-digit addition to multiplication, there are options for all learners. Take this winter-themed activity up a notch with some fun winter mini-erasers as game pieces and students.
Winter Opinion Writing
Along with sharing some of my favorite winter read alouds, I love giving my students plenty of opportunities to incorporate winter themes into their writing. Enter: winter writing prompts. Students love to bring their creativity into the writing process. This winter-themed activity includes ample space for students to write and illustrate their ideas, and we always love sharing our writing at the end to celebrate.
Winter Math & Literacy Activities
Giving students the opportunity to step back and tune into their five senses is another writing activity that I love do a few times a year. With the five senses writing center, students use a graphic organizer to share what they see, smell, hear, taste, and touch in winter. This exercise gives students concrete practice and a gentle reminder to incorporate these types of sensory details into their daily writing, as well.
Winter Math Journal Prompts
Since math journal prompts are a regular part of our math centers all year long, students already know the routine! When I added season-specific math journal prompts my students had a blast. These winter-themed math prompts include open-ended journal prompts, addressing concepts like patterns, place value, addition, and geometry. Wherever we are in our math curriculum, I can embrace the seasonal excitement during math centers and choose a prompt that matches the needs of the learners in my classroom.
I love any opportunity to incorporate poetry into our routines and read alouds. During center time, I give my students an opportunity to practice writing winter acrostic poems. In this activity, students choose one of two words to start with for their poem. They think about winter words and phrases that begin with each of the letters of the words and write them on the recording page.
I always love seeing what creative ideas my students come up with during this center and my students LOVE to share their poems, either by reading them to a partner or when we display them in the classroom. It’s so exciting to see this activity inspire my students to come up with additional winter acrostic poems after completing their first one.
Winter-Themed Make It Big
Make It Big is a favorite partner game to practice and reinforce place value with two-digit or three-digit numbers. Students take turns picking a ten-frame card from the pile and placing it on a spot on their winter place value mat (hundreds, tens, or ones). On their next turn, they choose another card and place it on another open space on the place value mat. When both partners have made their two or three-digit number, students compare numbers and determine which partner made the bigger number and won that round.
Students also get practice using <, >, and = as they record their numbers. The more students play Make It Big, the more it goes from a game of luck to a game of strategy, as students really start to understand place value. I love to have base ten blocks or unifix cubes and a place value mat available for my students that are earlier in their understanding. They can physically build the numbers as they go and actually see what it looks like to have three ones or three tens.
Winter Sight Word Scramble
I love giving my students extra opportunities to practice sight words. In this winter-themed activity, students think carefully about letters and sight words. For sight word scramble, students unscramble the snowball letters to figure out which sight word they can spell. For added support, I offer students magnetic letters to work physically move around the letters. And for my early finishers, I give them the opportunity to make their own scrambled snowball words for a peer to solve.
Winter Math & Literacy Activities
I hope this gives you a few new ideas to add to your winter planning. Do you have a favorite winter-themed activity? I’d love to hear about it. Let me know in the comments.