Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Everything SNOW! (Lots of FREEBIES!)

Happy New Year to all of you! Today I want to share some snowflake ideas and snowy day books that I like to use in my classroom.  

Grab a cup of coffee, tea, or cocoa- because I have lots of ideas to share! (It's a long winter...) I updated TpT links to be sure all the freebies still worked.

I love those first few flakes.  They are magical  in the classroom- so magical that anything that had been planned for the moment the children see snowflakes in the air for the first time is no longer the plan.  There is a new plan- called watching the snowflakes! After those first flakes, we need to think of lots of activities to keep us busy learning.

I have MANY books about snow and winter.  It seems like winter is L-O-N-G, and we have lots of opportunities for read-alouds.  Here are some of my favorites.

The Snowy Day is such a sweet book, and good for so many things. This story works great as a mentor text for small moments during my Narrative Writing Unit.  Everyone notices right away when the snowball melts in Peter's pocket. It is as if they can each say, "Yep- that's what happens!"

We read this story a few weeks ago, and will revisit  it this winter, I am sure. Next time we read this, we will  play the sight word snowball game afterward. This time, we made snow with Q-tips. This activity is completely student directed and just plain easy and fun.  I made and copied little Peter  characters on red paper.  The children cut these out and drew on his face and buttons.  Then, they could experiment with chalk and paint with Q-tips to make their own snowy days.  I taught them how I make snowflakes, and it was a very relaxing, quick little activity.  Some kids had forts and blizzards.  Some had a few flurries. We shared our pictures after we were done.  It was fun to hear the explanations to go with the pictures. You could also have the children write about their snowy day.

I love this Snowy Day Song by the FussKee Brothers!

Here is a description of Snow by Uri Shulevitz from Amazon: No one thinks one or two snowflakes will amount to anything. Not the man with the hat or the lady with the umbrella. Not even the television or the radio forecasters. But one boy and his dog have faith that the snow will amount to something spectacular, and when flakes start to swirl down on the city, they are also the only ones who know how to truly enjoy it.

On a random side note, this book reminds me of a couple sayings that I like:

Back to the snow books!

After we read some SNOW books, I love to let the children draw and write sight words in shaving cream snow- just a new twist on shaving cream writing... call it snow! They have so much fun, the tables never look cleaner, and the room smells great.  Win-win-win! You can also do this on trays to keep it more contained.

Disney Family Fun had this idea of painting snowflakes with pine needles!
Snowflake painting with pine needles!
Or make these cute Snowflakes from Frugal Family Fun. 

Making Learning Fun shared the idea to use pasta or Honeycomb cereal for snowflake counters. I love it!

Snowball books are lots of fun, too!

My class thinks this one is hysterical!  The snowball goes down the pants and starts them doing a snowball dance. 


(Such sweet illustrations!)
Powdered sugar donut holes make great snowballs for a winter snack after you read a snowball story.  
We play Snowball Sight Word Bingo or Snowball Number Bingo, using mini marshmallows as counters. You could use cotton balls, too- but for some strange reason, the kids like the marshmallows better.  hmmm...

We also play Snowball Sight Word Pass!  The kids love this game.

I LOVE Stella, Queen of the Snow.  Her brother Sam has his usual many questions, and Stella always has an answer for him- right or wrong!

We also had a ball with Here Comes Jack Frost.

 This is a really fun book to share with the children.  Some of them weren't familiar with the word "frost," so we talked about that first.  The book is illustrated with blue and white, and just feels chilly. 

The boy in the book has lots of fun with Jack Frost, but Jack warns the boy not to mention anything warm, or he will go away.
Right then and there, we stopped the book and I had each child tell me what they would NOT mention to Jack Frost!  I got lots of great answers from lava to hot chocolate to cozy slippers. 
Then, we kept reading until...
(I loved introducing the  children to snowdrops, because they're my FAVORITE flower!)
The kids actually gasped at this page when Jack was gone.  
They really enjoyed this story. 

At the end, I had them each think of something they could say that might bring Jack back- (so something cold).  That was fun, too.

During free choice time, I had groups of four do this little activity.  First, they wrote, "I like to play in the snow."  (We are reallllly working on neat writing, spaces, capitals, and ending with a period...). Then, they drew a winter picture with a white crayon, followed by some blue water color painting over that to make a Jack Frost winter picture, just like the book. If you do this, remind them to draw a lot of details with the white crayon in their winter picture.  They loved this because nobody else could tell what they had drawn before it was painted- and then it came to life magically before their eyes. I think I love my crayon resist activities as much as the kids do.

After all of this COLD reading (wow... lame literacy joke) the kids took home this little activity to do at home for some writing practice. 

 Ten on a Sled is great for retelling, acting, sequencing, and math word problems.

 The Snowstorm Surprise and Ice-Cold Birthday are stories that my children loved to hear over and over when they were little, so they hold a special place in my heart.  My middle daughter's birthday is in January, so when she was little we made Ice-Cold Birthday cakes for her sometimes. We layered  ice cream sandwiches,  hot fudge sauce, Coolwhip, crushed Oreos, then repeated with a different flavor of ice cream sandwiches and the rest of the goodies.  YUM.  You can use any kind of crushed candy instead or with the Oreos- depending on how much of a sugar overload you are going for...

 (This picture is from Mom's Cooking Club's BlogSpot.)


Snow Sounds is a great introduction to onomatopoeia.  From Amazon:
Sweep, crunch, swoosh, scrape . . . All night long, snow falls silently, bringing forth a world blanketed in white—and a very noisy day.  It is also a fun story to read before you go outside for a winter sound walk.

The kids like to dance to this Eric Herman Snow Days song. It's silly.

We play a Snow Day Sight Word game that I just call SNOWSTORM! Everyone has a snowflake on a headband.  I write a different sight word on each snowflake.  (You could use math facts, ten frames, letters, numbers- anything!) Here are two different versions of the headbands.

Each child also has a clipboard with a recording sheet.  I wrote before that since I don't have enough clipboards for everyone, I just put a big clip on the end of  old dry erase boards that  I have, and they work great.  If you want to get fancy, you can get some magic snowflake pencils at the Dollar Store.

When I say, "SNOWSTORM!" everyone starts walking around looking at each other's headband word and writing that word on their recording sheet.  This is a simple and fun way to practice writing sight words. They kids have a ball.

Here is a copy of the recording sheet if you want to play!  I always use the 3rd page one,  but I made the others just for fun- so the game seems a little different if we play it again.  :) Just click on the picture if you would like a copy!

Another fun game is like  Mingle- but I call it Snowballs!   Everyone walks around the room and is an individual snowflake.  When I say "Snowball group of 4!" the children have to quickly get into a group of four.  Then, I say "Snowflakes" again, and the walk around until I call out another "Snowball group of 3!" or whatever.  They LOVE this game. 

We LOVE Katy and the Big Snow just like we love Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel!

These are some of my favorite books to teach about snowflakes and use for Science:

I love the sweet illustrations in Snowflake Bentley, and the children love that he was a real person!

I also love taking my class outside when it is snowing to do our snowflake observation lesson. I used to do this with my own children when they were little. It is always fascinating.

I put some black construction paper in the freezer and just get it from the staff room freezer on our way outside. You probably don't even have to freeze the paper. The kids get a kick out of it. Sometimes it seems like those extra little steps make a lesson more memorable for the children, and it may keep the flakes frozen a little better.  I cut the paper in quarters so the pieces aren't that huge for the children to handle.  You can use black felt or other fabric instead, or even dark mittens would work well to catch snowflakes.  I found this picture online from The Chocolate Muffin Tree because we haven't done this lesson yet this year and I didn't have a picture.

Each child has a paper or fabric and a magnifying glass.  They catch the snowflakes and observe the beauty. It is simple, and always one of our favorite outings.  The children love learning that each snowflake has six sides and is unique!  I have everything ready to go, and just pick the best afternoon to get outside when it is snowing, otherwise, it turns out like the day we were going to look at clouds after our cloud lesson- and the sky could not have been more perfectly blue!

I found some pictures online to show you some gorgeous snowflakes. It's fun to look at these with the children once you come inside.


(from SnowCrystals.com )
SnowDays is one of my new favorite sites. It isn't a new sight- just new to me! It lets you create a snowflake online- without paper! (They come out MUCH better for me than the real paper ones...  I actually feel a little artistic!)

The Kidz Page also has a snowflake maker game!
Game Title:Online Snow Flake Maker
Game Information:Use your computer mouse as you would a pair of scissors to cut away sections of virtual paper to make beautiful virtual snowflakes!
Game Type:Flash, Online Game
Game File Size:11 KB (approx)
Game High Scores?No
Click here to play this game!

I put these snowflake sites all together on my Winter Prezi.  I use this all the time in Winter for those extra minutes we have and to reinforce or teach winter themes.   I just added the Valentine's Day section!

It's FREE- and the snowflake section makes a wonderful science unit for winter.

My brother-in-law made me these gorgeous snowflakes for two bulletin boards I made at school last year. My principal wants to put the snowflakes on a wall and spray paint them using the snowflakes as a sort of stencil.  

The idea for this bulletin board came from The Butterfly Jungle. I loved it.  Not only did the idea come from her- but so did the bear. I tried my unartistic best to draw my own, but they kept coming out like giant white rats, which are NOT as precious blowing snowflakes, by the way. Finally, I just enlarged her wonderful bear.  She described drawing the bear as "easy-peasy."  :( Nope.
I found a couple other fun online snowflake games. (All are on the Prezi.)
Sid the Science Kid has a snowflake symmetry game.
National Geographic has some fun online snowflake puzzles.

Kids Games has a fun Catch the Snowflakes game.  (Yes, I played it- and it is fun!)

 Literactive has a great snowflake CVC game!

I found some good snowflake videos. This video is from  Activity Village, along with these facts.
Did you know that large snowflakes can measure up to 2" across and contain hundreds of individual crystals?
The largest snowflake ever found was 8" by 12"! It was reported to have fallen in Bratsk, Siberia in 1971.

This is a sweet story to go along with a snowflake study.  It's a great way to start a discussion about how people, like snowflakes, are each special and unique.


Glue snowflakes are always a beautiful craft to make- easy and never fail (remember- all snowflakes are supposed to be different!).  They look so pretty in a window  or even on a little "winter tree" if you want to go with The Tree that Stayed Up Until Next Christmas idea.

Factory Direct has a good tutorial about making glue snowflakes.

 DIY Glue Snowflakes3 DIY Glue SnowflakesDIY Glue Snowflakes4 DIY Glue Snowflakes
Martha Stewart gives directions for making snowflakes with pipe cleaners and borax at her site.  This would be a fun experiment to do with the class so they could watch it "grow!"

Martha also shows how to makes some snowflake marshmallows at her site.  They look so pretty in hot chocolate!  Her process is pretty involved- so I tried freezing marshmallow fluff and making them that way just to see if I could cheat.  Nope.  The fluff was too sticky and didn't work.  Martha knew what she was doing, of course.

If I made her snowflake marshmallows, I would put one in a bag for each child to take home with a packet of cocoa-and this "How do you stay warm?" homework to complete as they enjoy their cocoa.  (Poor things- nothing comes without some work!:) Or you could just enjoy the cocoa after your outside adventures and share your experiences!  I have the children draw and write inside the mug, about how they like to stay warm in winter.  I  have them color the top of the mug brown like cocoa is inside, and then glue on cotton balls for marshmallows.
Here is a sample:
Just click the picture below if you would like a copy of this simple little activity.

If you wanted to really celebrate a snowy day, you could make no-fail snowflake pancakes!  These are easy- even I can make them.  Again, since snowflakes are all different, you cannot fail!  You can dress them up with powdered "snow," white chocolate chip snow, coconut (if kids like that) or a mountain of spray cool whip snow (my kids favorite when they were little still.)   The easiest way I found to make these "designer pancakes" is to put the pancake mix in a large Ziplock baggie, cut off one corner, and make the snowflake design like you are decorating a cake by squeezing out the batter.

This picture is from Having Fun at Home.  She worried about having symmetrical pancakes, bless her heart.  Mine don't always look so great- but the kids LOVE them!  Plus- once the powdered sugar or cool whip is on them, symmetry doesn't seem important at all.

With the "just add water" pancake mix, making pancakes in school is an easy way to cook in my classroom.  One year for the 100th day of school, we made 100 mini pancakes.  I just bring in my electric griddle, and we are good to go!
You can also make white chocolate snowflakes that are beautiful to add to a special cup of cocoa.
These are from Prudence Pennywise.
These are from Geek Sweets- and out of my league, but beautiful.
White chocolate snowflakes

Although- Haniela's blog has a great tutorial about how to make these, so I may give it a try!

You could also put a pretty, intricate, paper snowflake on top of a cake to use as a template, and sprinkle powdered sugar over it for an easy snowflake cake. These are Martha Stewart's templates:

but I was thinking more like this from BrownievilleGirl:

I also love having lots of Snowy Centers for the children to explore during the winter.
Khrys Bosland shared these cute Frosty Fluff Fake Snow Recipe labels and the recipe for Frosty Fluff.
FREEBIE Frosty Fluff Fake Snow Recipe

I love this Snow Much Fun (with Playdough) center from Christie at First Grade Fever.
Snow Much Fun {Playdough/Literacy Center}

It will go great with our sparkly snow playdough.  I like my Bisquick playdough recipe because it lasts so long and always turns out great! I just added some colorful glitter and no coloring. You could add some peppermint or vanilla extract for fun, too. The kids LOVE smelly playdough.

Bisquick Playdough
2 cups Bisquick
1 cup salt
2 cups water
1 Tbsp cream of tartar
1 Tbsp oil 

Mix all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl.  Microwave for 3 minutes.  Scrape and stir the bowl. Microwave for another 3 minutes. If it is not quite ready,  microwave for another minute.
(I made a double batch and put it back in my microwave for one more minute, which worked perfectly.) 
These are some other snow centers we have fun using.  If you have a bigger tub or sand/water table, you could have a ball!  I have a bigger bin that I use, but not a water table.  I would LOVE to put real snow in a water table- or even a long bin.  We don't have bathrooms or sinks in our classrooms, so that would be tricky.  It's so much fun to do at home, though, if you have young children at home. Even putting  some snow in the bathtub or sink with some snow toys would be so much fun. 
Meanwhile, in my classroom, I use a bin or big box for my "snow sight words."

Here are some snow  ideas you can use, shown in large bowls.

The children dig through the snow to find sight words and record them on their Snowy Sight Word Sheet.  I have ten words in each bin with more of the "snow" than I have shown in the pictures to cover up the words.  The children rotate through the bins.

First they put on their snowflake glasses, of course...  (Dollar Tree...)

 (I had LOTS of these left from my daughter's wedding. They came is a big container from Walmart.)

(This is just showing the sight words hidden in the rice.)

Snow Storm!  I used packing peanuts, cotton balls, plastic snowflakes I had, beans, and rice.  This makes a really fun sensory table in a big tub or bin!
Cotton Balls
Plastic Snowflakes
Packing Peanuts

Beans are some of my favorites.  I put them in the freezer before center time, and they stay really cold! Plus, I can write the words right on the beans.  I actually have two sets, so I keep one with an ice pack in a freezer bag to switch in the middle of center time so the groups all get cold snow beans.

Here is a copy of my Snowflake Word Recording Sheet. Click on the picture if you would like a copy of it.   I used Susanna Westby's adorable snowflake background for the first page in color, and just black and white for the other page.


Here are some fabulous TPT freebies that I found in my search for everything snow! Enjoy!

Welcome Winter: Snow Much Fun! from Heather's Heart is a great packet!

Welcome Winter:  Snow Much FunWelcome Winter:  Snow Much FunWelcome Winter:  Snow Much FunWelcome Winter:  Snow Much Fun

This Fun in the Snow packet by Penny Waddingham is a wonderful resource! She includes a sweet original winter story as well as math and literacy activities.
Fun in the SnowFun in the SnowFun in the SnowFun in the Snow

Kimberly Edgerton shared a Snow Fun Letter Match activity, great for reinforcing capital and lowercase letters and sounds.
Snow Fun Letter MatchSnow Fun Letter MatchSnow Fun Letter Match
Mrs. McKown made an adorable Sight Word Find magnifying glass activity. My kids will love this!
Sight Word Finds-Let It Snow! K-1Sight Word Finds-Let It Snow! K-1
I like this Winter Syllable Card Center Activity by Jennifer Drake!

Winter Syllable Center Cards ~FREEBIE SAMPLER~Winter Syllable Center Cards ~FREEBIE SAMPLER~

Sharp's Kindergarten shared a fun Blizzard of Words Game to practice CVC words.

Winter - Blizzard of Words - CVC Game (FREEBIE)Winter - Blizzard of Words - CVC Game (FREEBIE)Winter - Blizzard of Words - CVC Game (FREEBIE)

Kate Drew shared some Snowflake Literacy Activites at her TPT store.
Snowflake Literacy ActivitiesSnowflake Literacy ActivitiesSnowflake Literacy Activities

I love this Winter Sight Word Reader from Zdoodlez. It is goes perfectly with a snowflake study!
Winter sight word readerWinter sight word readerWinter sight word readerWinter sight word reader

Roll a Snowflake by Sharp's Kindergarten is a fun center activity.
Snow Sums - Roll a Snowflake (FREEBIE)

Here is another cute Snowman Roll and Cover activity from Christina's Café of Creations with numbers 1-6.
 Snow Man Roll and Color 1-6
Christina also made a Roll and Cover with numbers 2-12.
Snow Man Roll and Color 2-12
Fern Smith shared a fun January Snow Theme Plus One Center Game.
FREE! January Snow Theme Addition Plus One Center GameFREE! January Snow Theme Addition Plus One Center GameFREE! January Snow Theme Addition Plus One Center GameFREE! January Snow Theme Addition Plus One Center Game
Kinder Doodles has a cute Snow Buddy Number and Tens Frames Activity!
Snow Buddy Number & Ten Frame CardsSnow Buddy Number & Ten Frame CardsSnow Buddy Number & Ten Frame Cards

Warm Up With Winter Math is a fabulous packet from A Special Teacher for Special Kids with lots of great activities.
Winter Math Fun {Freebie}Winter Math Fun {Freebie}
I think that I am trying to rediscover the magic of snow each year through the eyes of the children.  I do think the falling snow is beautiful-

I always love the idea of this quote- until I realize that shoveling really isn't exactly a "choice..."
This is more of my idea of shoveling!

And always a favorite...

Have a beautiful New Year!


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