We didn’t see much of winter last year, but just in case this year will be different, I thought I’d share some ideas you can prepare for ahead of time for when your kids are home!
I get the inspiration for integrating fun with educational topics from a school district in Durham and Middlefield Connecticut. Years ago I visited their integrated day program. The district has two options — a traditional or the integrated day classes. It’s genius!
So, whether you are homeschooling or your children go to public or private school, you can provide casual activities to your children that build connections and enhance the more formal learning they do in school.
Children are naturally fascinated by snow. Snow presents opportunities to allow your child to take the energy that comes with an intense interest and use it to learn in a natural, organic way.
After the question activity, dress for snow play and go outside! My Canadian mother knew how to dress us so we’d stay outside until we had to use the bathroom! Here’s a great article on dressing for snow! The questions below are just suggestions. Obviously, some of the activities are too long for just a snow day, and will more likely be something for a homeschool family to expand on the thoughts from the snow day activities into a full curriculum.
RULE: If it’s a snow day, it has to be fun! Let your children choose the activity!
Start with questions. When we articulate our questions, and speak them out loud, it creates a “hook” to hang new learning on. When we answer our questions and then research and discover we were correct, it creates a kind of excitement that helps us remember. And likewise, when we are wrong in our assumptions, the correct answer jolts us, creating another intellectual event that we will remember. (Yes, it’s true! Wrong answers create our best learning opportunities!)
- Let your child ask tons of questions and write them down. Always encourage the questions. This will give you insights into how and what they think about the world. Be careful not to show judgment so that you allow them to discover for themselves when they are not correct! You may just be amazed, and if you have a lightbulb moment, please tell us about it in the comments! I love these!
- If your child is pre-writing age or just a beginner, write them down for her with large letters. Use a whiteboard and red marker if possible, or poster board and a red marker. This will double as literacy stimulation, helping to make reading and writing more natural later. Ask her what she thinks the answers are. Don’t tell her when she’s wrong. Just write what she thinks the answers are or might be.
- You can add your own questions to hers. If you research first, you will come up with some that will intrigue her.
- Reward all of her efforts with time outside playing in the snow — building a fort, an igloo, a snowman, a sculpting, sledding, skiing, etc.!
There’s plenty to choose from below! Find something your kids will love! And if you come up with something new, let us know!
Integrating Science and Social Studies Questions with Snow:
1. What is snow made from?
2. How is snow made?
3. Where does it come from?
4. Why doesn’t it snow in some places?
Numbers 1 through 4 lead to an exploration of weather/climate (science); cold fronts, water cycle, molecules; and geography (social studies); mountains, elevation, map reading, etc. Any one of these topics can be fun to explore online or at the library. This can also lead into questions of culture and history (social studies):
5. Does snow affect lifestyle?
7. How is life different in places where there are is only one season?
8. How does the weather or climate change the way people think? The things they eat? (Find and try some recipes.)
9. What are some stories of bad snowstorms during colonial days? During the 19th century? etc.
10. How do you build an igloo? (And here is a great source for building a real igloo as a project.) And how did people live in them? What’s it like to sleep in one? I knew of a family that built a true igloo as a project and they had planned to sleep in it. But after one hour, they were too hot in the igloo! This is best done if you know it will be cold for more than a couple of days. How sad to put all that work in only to watch it melt the next day!
11. What was it like to ride in a horse and carriage through the white and drifting snow? (Visit Amish country and do it!)
Integrating Language Arts with Snow:
I’ve shown you how you can integrate science and social studies. I’m sure you can see how easy it will be to integrate literature, grammar, reading, writing and research skills!
- Take a trip to the library or used book store.
- Search on Amazon and other online sources.
- Write a snow adventure (creative fiction) or an invented newspaper article about a fictional snow adventure.
- Write a snow poem.
- Read stories that happen in the snow.
Integrating Art and Music with Snow:
Draw or paint what you see.
Imitate the art of one of the cultures.
Design the ideal snow outfit, including a solution to one problem your child experienced while playing in the snow (ex: socks got wet, scarf came off and exposed neck).
Make up the lyrics for a song and use an existing tune. Or create a new tune. Record it!
Integrating Math and Physical Fitness with Snow
If you can bring your kids somewhere to skate or ski, go for it! In Canada we made our own skating rinks by stomping snow down and adding water. But, nothing melted till spring, so it would last almost all winter. Here is southeast Ohio, we have to find a place to skate! (Tell us where you go to skate!)
For sledding, make sure you find a safe place that isn’t too steep and doesn’t end on a road! If you don’t have a sled that steers, be extra careful about curves in the hill you choose.
Here is the simplest sled you can make from a box.
And here is something a little nicer that can be made from household items (and a little duck tape)!
I’m at a loss with math. I’d love to hear your ideas if you have any for math fun and snow!