We Like Winter!

Happy New Year!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas with lots of time to love the people close to you.  I hope you are able to have some time to relax and do something fun before you go back to school!

I know it can be a little hard for the kids to transition back to school after the holiday break.  I used to invite the children to bring in one thing that they received as a gift, or to show something they did, on that first day back.  They are usually all anxious to talk and share!

We also began our study of winter – which is pretty easy in Michigan!  I put the words to this book in a pocket chart and we read it every day, noticing concepts about print, sight words, and there was an illustration at the end of each sentence strip that matched the words.  We completed one page of this book each day, and read lots of books and did other activities that went along with each page.

I used to make this a full sized book, but then I reduced it to 9 x 6 and that seemed like a better size.  I typed out the words using 2 spaces between the words, and xeroxed a class set.  Then I cut the words apart and gave each child a sentence to glue on each day.  Here are the words for the book.

Winter book words

On the cover of the book I loved doing an art technique – using long Q-tips and household bleach.  Of course I talked very seriously about how bleach is a chemical and must be handled very carefully.  I also had a parent supervise 2 children at a time doing this.  They just dipped the Q-tip into a very small amount of bleach and then drew snowmen, snowflakes, trees, etc. on the cover.  The bleach takes the color out of the page.  I found that this worked better with dark blue paper than black.  Other years we just used a white crayon and drew winter things.

Along with the words, I gave each child 2 pieces of white construction paper – to free cut a snow hill and snowman.  Then they used scraps to add details to the page.  I asked them to use a white crayon to add snowflakes.

Along with this snow page we did a science experiment – I sent a few children outside to fill 3-4 containers with snow.  Then we guessed where in our classroom the snow would melt the fastest.  We numbered the containers, and put them in the places the children chose.  Then the children each predicted which container they thought would melt first.  We watched throughout the day to see which actually did melt first.

Sometimes we also filled a container with snow and made a line with a marker to show how full it was.  Then we watched as the snow melted and saw how the water took up less space in the cup.

We read Ezra Jack Keats – The Snowy Day.  Throughout this week I reread this book often, along with many other winter books.  After a few readings we acted it out – pretending to do all the things that Peter did.  We spent time talking about “events” in a story – we made a list and counted the events in this story – I think it was about 21!  After multiple readings I asked the children to draw about 5 – 6 events, and we made a construction paper Peter – with a pointed hat of course.  They used the little Peter as a pointer as they retold the story.  I learned that when I took time to read and reread a favorite book, the children often started using the interesting text and fun intonations when they read it to themselves or retold the story.  I loved hearing them say “PLOP!” when the snow fell on Peter’s head – and using so much of the great language from the story.

Of course we had to cut out paper snowflakes too!  I often started with folded up coffee filters.

For the mitten page I xeroxed one mitten with a simple pattern on it.  Then I folded the paper so the children would cut out 2 mittens.  They had to decorate the blank mitten to match the one with the patterns.  We used markers to make it more fun!

Did I ever show you how I stored markers?  I found that using a plastic ice cube maker – meant to make long skinny ice cubes for water bottles, was a great way to store markers.  The children were much better about replacing the lids and putting the markers away than when I had them in a basket.  These containers also hold 3 of each color – so it usually works great for a table of 5-6 kids.

We talked about winter clothing along with the mitten page, and read The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, and Froggy Gets Dressed.  Each child also colored a simple small mitten shape and we graphed whether we wore mittens, gloves, or bare hands to school that day.  I made the graph headings by actually putting a mitten, then a glove, and then my bare hand – into the xerox machine and made a picture.  Then I asked the chidlren what they noticed about the graph and posted their comments by the graph:   ‘Ashley said “There are more gloves than bare hands.”   ‘Drake said “There are 3 more gloves than mittens.”, etc.

We usually actually made cocoa on the day we did this page.  I loved calling it “Snowman Soup.”  Each child opened a packet of hot chocolate and a parent added warm water (not too hot!)  Then they added 2 chocolate kisses, 4 mini marshmallows and stirred it all with a small candy cane.

We sprinkled dry cocoa powder onto a little glue on the paper cup on the page and drew a picture of what we like to eat with hot chocolate.  This could be another opportunity for a graph.

We painted the background of this page the previous day – or earlier in the day so it could dry before we added the sled.  We used a piece of small bubble wrap, set it in a styrofoam tray of white paint, then set it on the page and gently patted it.  After the bubbles dried we added popsicle sticks for the sled – I broke some ahead of time for the one that crossed the top.

I loved bringing in a real sled and sometimes we used it in the hallway, on the carpet – with one child pushing or pulling another.  We also took the sled outside and did more push – pull activities.  I will share a little more about that later.

I loved to show the children one of the illustrations in the book The Snowy Day – where Peter’s back was turned and you could see his footprints leading up to where he was standing.  Some years we tried to duplicate that idea on this page.  Sometimes I gave them a footprint stamp – but it was almost impossible for them to stamp a line that looked like someone walking through the snow – they just wanted to stamp!  Of course we had to go outside and make our own footprints if we had enough snow.  This leads to an opportunity to measure with footsteps – how many footsteps to the sink, to the calendar, to the door, etc.

We also made a list of important parts of a snowman – 3 balls – small, medium and large; a hat, a nose, a mouth, arms, a scarf, etc.  This list became a rubric of what the children had to include when they each free cut a snowman.  Then they used different materials to measure their snowman – I used unifix cubes and plastic links.  I put the snowmen and recording sheets for the measurements up on the wall along with some of their writing.  Sometimes we brainstormed and wrote about what we like to do in the snow.

in the snow

Hope your 2011 starts off great!

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