Winters in Canada are long, so technically you could be doing winter classroom activities for most of the school year and you’d still be on track weather wise.
We tend to use winter classroom activities from November through February, especially around Christmas, since many of our students come from different religious backgrounds. Many do not celebrate Christmas and so everyone deserves to do fun activities that aren’t connected to a specific faith or holiday.
Winter Classroom Activities for English Language Arts
Winter Themed Puzzles and Writing Activities was created to fill in a little time around the holidays. We had lots of kids who didn’t celebrate Christmas and weren’t participating in some of the schoolwide Christmas events. We made this package of puzzles and activities to give them something fun to do.
Our favourite part of that set was the week of winter writing prompts. Our whole class had fun with those.
In fact, our students enjoyed the writing so much, that we made an entire other set of Winter Writing Prompts. There are ten days of prompts, each with three different choices. Better yet, they can be used with paper or digitally.
Winter Themed Types of Sentences was an activity we did one year to build in some content and use a cute winter theme. Students learn about the different types of sentences and the punctuation that indicates each through an interactive journal activity and then complete task cards to practice what they’ve learned.
Our students LOVE logic puzzles and the few that were in the Winter Themed Puzzles and Activities bundle just wasn’t enough. So, we wrote ten Winter Themed Logic Puzzles just for them. These ones can even be done online through Google Slides.
Nothing beats a cozying up with a great book. Check out our list of winter books: Cozy Up With Great Winter Books.
Winter Classroom Activities for Math
It still amazes us (even in Grade 5 and 6) how putting a few cute decorations on a page can encourage students to do their work. That’s what we found when we created some of the winter themed math worksheets for our students.
Our math worksheets have a mix of math strands (though we are in the process of making new sets that are themed for specific strands).
Our Grade 3 Winter Math Worksheets includes place value, addition/subtraction (with regrouping up to 999), multiplication/division (with arrays up to 5 x 5 = 25), bar graphs, concrete patterns, word problems and representing simple fractions.
The Grade 4 Winter Math Worksheets includes addition/subtraction (with regrouping up to 99 999), multiplication/division (up to 7 x 7 = 49), simple bar graphs, pictographs, reading an analog clock, 2D shape names, word problems and representing simple fractions.
Our Grade 5 Winter Math Worksheets includes addition/subtraction (with regrouping up to 99 999), multiplication/division (up to 9 x 9 = 81), comparing numbers, adding and subtracting decimals to thousandths, double bar graphs, perimeter, area, volume, 2D shapes, equivalent simple fractions and word problems.
Winter Classroom Activities to Get Kids Moving Inside
Grab some of the flat paper from your recycling bin and place one piece under each shoe. Shuffle down the hallway, but keep your paper with you the whole time. You’ll be surprised how much you’ll feel it the next day.
Have students race as they shuffle along.
We called it paper snowshoeing, but then another teacher mentioned it. They called it paper skating. One group of our students called it paper shuffling.
Snowball on a Spoon
This is a variation of an egg on a spoon race. Instead of an egg, use a pompom. Students can race outside, indoors in a gym or even around your classroom.
Make it more challenging by using a wooden spoon (because it’s much longer). Have students hold their other hand behind their back.
This is not recommended for a pandemic because it involves students blowing through a straw. Each player has a straw and a pompom. They have to blow through the straw to move the pompom. Race down a hall, across a table or all the way across a gymnasium. It’s lots of work.
This is a great activity for students who are at home alone as it required lots of crawling and deep breathing to get the job done.
Paper Snowball Fight
Crumple up that paper in the recycling bin into perfect snowball sized snowballs. Divide the class into teams and build a line down the middle of the room.
Establish rules about how (or how not to) throw the snowballs. If there are any out of bounds areas or rules about how hard snowballs can be thrown, be very clear about your expectations.
Once the rules are in place, play “junkyard.” Divide the snowballs in half and dump half onto each side of the room. Set a timer for a specific amount of time. Each team will work to clear their side of the room.
When the timer goes off, all throwing stops. Teams count the number of snowballs on their side of the room. Lowest score works.
Our students have come up with variations over the years.
Variation 1: The Secret Snowball. Add one snowball into the mix that has a special message or symbol (which won’t be visible when it’s in ball form). The team that unwraps it after the timer goes off wins.
Variation 2: Secret Trades. After each round, both teams get to choose one player from the other side to join their team. Teams decide on the player they want and tell the referee (teacher) who then announces the trade.
Variation 3: Bean Bag Junkyard. Play a larger version of this game in your gymnasium with bean bags or small balls (like Nerf balls).
Variation 4: Set time. Instead of the timer amount being unknown to students, use a visual timer so students can try their best to strategize. This usually only works once and a while. Once one team figures out they should hold onto all the snowballs until the last possible second, the game is less fun.
Are you stuck inside for recess due to the cold weather? You might need this post: Chill Out With These Sanity Saving Ideas for Indoor Recess.
Winter Classroom Activities to Get Kids Moving Outside
If you live somewhere with snow, there is nothing more fun that building a snowperson or sculpture out in the snow. A spray bottle with a little water can help make the snow stay in place and pack a little better if the snow is too dry to pack well.
Put a little food colouring into water and a spray bottle so kids can use the colours to spray into the snow. If the food colouring isn’t enough colour, a little liquid Tempera paint added to the water can make the colour a little brighter.
We have a strict rule not to spray our friends.
One year we actually took paint outside and painted the packed snow with paint brushes. We had mostly abstract works, but it was fun on a sunny afternoon. We photographed the snow paintings to save them for later.
Walking through deep snow is great exercise. Take your students through a walk in deep snow (just make sure you already know the area and it’s generally flat.
Skating, Skiing or Snowshoeing
If your school has access to the equipment, taking your students for an activity like skating, skiing or snowshoeing can be so much fun. Look into community organizations for equipment grants to purchase or rent equipment.
If you have a parent advisory council that has money to spend, consider purchasing these types of equipment so that all the students in your school can benefit.
Frozen Bubble Experiment
We gave this one a try last winter and it was so much fun.
The basic idea is that students will blow bubbles outside that will crystallize because of the cold weather. This one needs a very cold, but still day.
We found this activity on another blog and frankly, they wrote about it so well, we’re just going to share it instead of writing up what we did.
Winter Classroom Activities for Fun and Creativity
Create some Winter Art
There are so many different ways to integrate art into your classroom. We collected and crafted until we had a collection of Winter Inspired Art Projects. We put these together along with lesson plans, photographs of student examples and reflection pages.
Now, if you’re thinking-art? That’s so messy? Well, then you need to read our post: Are You Avoiding Teaching Art?
Try a Digital Escape Room
Last year we found ourselves trapped in our classroom for several weeks during a cold snap. During that time, we created a Winter Escape Room called Can You Escape Winter? It’s a collection of puzzles that students can do just for fun. Our students loved it and it came in very handy while being stuck inside for days. Everyone needs a break once and a while.
Explore the Mpemba Effect
This one is short, but sweet. Before you start, get everyone bundled up on a very cold day (-30C or colder). Boil water and pour it into a mug.
Take your group outside and have them stand in a semicircle around you, but standing quite far back. Toss the boiling water out of the mug (do not throw the mug and do not throw the water toward anyone).
It should evaporate into vapour instantly and your students will be wowed. This is because of the Mpemba Effect which hypothesizes that hot water freezes faster than cold water. Have a discussion with your student to talk about why this happens (but maybe go back inside to do this).
Just Enjoy Winter
Winter is a long stretch here in Canada, so it only makes sense to have an arsenal of activities available to use for all those months. If you have another great winter activity that you’ve tried, we’d love to hear about it. Leave us a comment below.