Category Archives: Winter

Winter Index 2011

**A little blog business.  Before deleting the page, I’m posting my winter index to save for next year.**

Here’s the list I’m using while planning winter themed activities.  This index will likely change as I add activities.  I will change the font color as we complete activities and you might see some of my favorites highlighted in posts.  

**When I get around to it, I will add a Valentine’s list to this page. As of now, I’m not planning that far in advance!**

  • Snowflake matching
  • Snowman buttons/shapes
  • Snowflake pairs
  • Snowmen rice crispie treats
  • How to Build a snowman (order the images)
  • Winter Collage
  • What’s Missing?
  • Scarf Sorting
  • Gel stickers/puzzles
  • Snow Unit
  • Snowman buttons
  • Winter Unit
  • Winter Nature Walk
  • Penguin Appetizer
  • Donut Snowman
  • White as Snow

    How I Use an Index:
    I’ve learned that if I don’t organize my online finds, I forget about them.  I created the indexes to keep that from happening.  I create the ongoing list of  potential activities that I then pull from when planning.  Sometimes I have activities planned out way in advance.  And then there are the weeks I get behind.  The index works great to pull ideas from quickly.  We DO NOT accomplish each activity on the list, that is not even my goal.  I can always use the same index to pull from next year, hopefully lessening my prep work in the future too.   For now I am only posting my seasonal indexes. 
    I hope you find these lists helpful too!  

    Sticker Igloo

    This igloo craft was a lot of fun to make and I think it turned out really cute too!


    What you need:  blank label stickers (I actually used mailing labels and cut them down to size), construction paper, scissors, glue, black marker

    What you do:  Have your little one build a wall on the construction paper, using the labels.  Once they’re finished, turn the paper over and draw a semi-circle on the back.  Either have them cut out along the line, or you do the cutting for them.  To create the door, cut out a second semi-circle and have them color a black door, then glue on top of the larger piece.  After gluing his igloo together, he added some snow to his picture. 

    This was honestly supposed to go with a winter unit I was going to do with J… but 3rd trimester exhaustion has set in so the unit didn’t happen.  I ended up cutting out the upper and lower case letter I, letting him fill those in with “ice blocks” and decided reinforcement learning was enough this day!  J was quite proud of his final work of art. 

    This idea is from the Frugal Family Fun Blog.

    Snow Shoveling Toddler Style

    Thess pictures are from last year when J was 21 months.  We dressed him up in his winter gear, gave him a soup ladle and he was entertained “helping” dad shovel the driveway.  Maybe this simple idea will be put to use in light of the blizzard moving across the country!  Even little ones can “help”.

    Snowflake Bentley, Story and Activities

    Snowflake Bentley, by Jacqueline Briggs Martin is a book I happened upon at the library.  It’s a non-fiction book actually, but told in story-book fashion about a boy named Willie Bentley who was fascinated with snowflakes.  As a child he would catch the snowflakes and attempt to draw them on paper before they melted.  Eventually his parents bought him a microscope camera to photograph the snowflakes.  Can you imagine trying to photograph a snowflake using an 1882 camera!?!  I’m sure we’d all have trouble with our modern DSLRs! Amazingly, he stuck to his goal.  He held slideshows for townspeople to come see his photographs which were eventually published in a book called Snow Crystals that is used by colleges and universities. His fascination led to the discovery that all snowflakes are unique. 

    Throughout the book there are sidebars with extra facts about snow, William Bentley and his work.  I’m so glad I came across this book.   We used it to kick-start a discussion about snowflakes, photography, persistence, dedication and a job well-done.

    Here’s a couple activities we did to go along with the book:

    1. Snowflake matching –  I googled Snowflake Bentley photographs and printed out two copies of the same photos.  At first I presented 3-4 to match at a time since you have to really examine some to find the differences.  As he got better, he could match more at a time. 

    2. Snowflake puzzle – I cut some of Bentley’s photos in half, mixed them all up and J found the two symmetrical sides to join together and create a snowflake.  This was a great way to emphasize the meaning of symmetrical.  These 2 activities really met J’s current ability level since I could easily make the level of difficulty was just right for him by picking and choosing the snowflakes to match.

    Age attempted: 33 months; you could go into so much more detail for older kids and increase the difficulty of the activities by using snowflakes that are more similar in comparison

    Build a Snowman Sequencing Activity

    This is one of the winter-themed activities J did.  I found a picture on Google Images and cut the pieces apart for J to put in order.  This is simple prep work but great practice in sequencing. 

    Here are the images I used (including two different sets of snowmen). Build A Snowman Sequencing Activity

    Age attempted: 32 months

    If you DON’T like traditional shape cookies, try these!

    I never posted about our Christmas cookie baking, but we sure did A LOT of it.  I think baking is one of those activities where they can learn a lot (if we slow down enough to let them) and where they see a great reward for their efforts. 

    Of course it’s easier, cleaner and faster to mix up the cookie dough on your own, but I’ve found that the majority of learning comes from allowing J to help mix the dough.  He “reads” the recipe, gathers the ingredients and then measures them, allowing him to practice tons of skills. 

    We of course made the traditional sugar cookies where we rolled the dough out, J cut them into fun shapes and then decorated to his hearts content.  This is NOT my favorite type of baking!  J loved it, but it’s honestly quite stressful to me.  I try to stay calm, but I’d just rather not deal with the rolling and the cutting.  I think J would have as much fun with playdough and mom wouldn’t have the mess afterwards. (And I don’t even like the taste of this these cookies either!)

    We honestly might stick to playdough in the future. BUT all cookie baking is not lost.  We did have lots of fun baking other types of cookies (or I should say we BOTH had fun with other cookies).

    My favorite type of cookies to make with J this year were those with a “surprise” inside.  Once I realized how perfect these were for J’s age and ability level, this is mostly what we made to give away to neighbors and teachers. 

    I scooped the dough onto the baking sheet and J pressed each ball with the back of a teaspoon, creating a small hole.  He could then “bury” a surprise inside each cookie and I helped him cover it up with the dough.  This was right at his ability level and he loved it.  We buried Rolos, Reeces Pieces, Reeces PB Cups, Chocolate Kisses, and M&Ms (not all in the same cookie!).  I also let him sprinkle crushed toffee and confectionary sugar on top of some which he liked. 

    And the good news is they taste great afterwards.  You can hide them in basically any type of cookie dough and it will taste good. 

    Age attempted: J first helped with Christmas baking when he was 20 months; this year at 32 months he could do A LOT more

    So here are some of the recipes we tried for Christmas:

    Million Dollar Caramel Cookies (These were by far my favorite!)

    Snowball Surprises

    PB Surprise Cookies (basically chocolate chip cookie dough but hide PB cup, M&Ms, Rolos, whatever candy you want inside)

    Molten Lava Cookies

    **I hope these are the same recipes I used; I just did a online search for the names of each, but the pictures looked very similar in all cases… that should count for something right!**

    Color Mixing with Ice

    When I was pulling up the old activities using ice, I realized that I never posted this last summer (I took a LONG break back then!).  These photos are from this past summer.   This is a great outdoor activity but a few simple adaptations can  easily bring this activity inside during the winter months and actually works well with a winter theme. 

    (I honestly just copied this post from the one I wrote for our private family blog last summer.  I made very few adjustments – in italics – which is why it sounds like I’m writing from the perspective of summer…. I was!)

    J’s homemade water “table” is still one of his favorite activities of the summer.  A few days ago we made yellow and blue ice cubes together.  This is an activity all in itself and a great way to teach the process of freezing. Let them fill the tray using a scooper or a medicine dropper to include some fine motor skill practice!  He’s been patiently waiting to play with them since. 

    He first separated the ice cubes into bowls by color and chose to make blue water first.  I filled the tray with a small amount of water (just make sure the tray is white/clear so you can easily see the water change colors as the ice melts). He really enjoys scooping and stirring the ice cubes, letting them melt in his hands,… **Use this step to utilize motor skill practice with tongs or different size (and length) scoopers or spoons.**  I’m surprised at how long a little ice can entertain!  When he moved onto the yellow ice cubes I asked him which color the water (currently blue) would become and he of course guessed yellow.  I told him it was going to be a surprise that he’d have to wait and see.  He wasn’t convinced the water was actually green until the very end when there was no denying it.  He was sure it should be either blue or yellow! 

    (Sorry, I kinda cut off his face!)

    We then filled the ice cube trays with green water to play with in the future.  This activity is free, entertains a good while and recycles itself too!

    Favorite Ice Posts

    These ice activities from last year would work well during winter. I have a few of them on the list to do again this year.  Click on the picture to see more about the activity.

    Melting Hearts

    Ice Painting

    Ice Melting Bags

    Ice Blocks

    Snow-themed Breakfast (or snack)

    Since we woke up with tons of snow and dad got to stay home this particular morning, I decided to break the rules and have fun with breakfast. I can’t say this is the healthiest breakfast, but it was a fun twist to our normal routine.  I say there’s nothing wrong with letting our hair down a little!

    I made Snowman donuts, marshmallow snowflakes, a bucket of snow (yogurt topped with nuts and berries) and snowman soup (aka hot cocoa). 

    J thought it was lots of fun and of course finished EVERY bite.  Surprise, surprise!

    To make the Snowman Donuts:

    I used a Cheeto for the nose (the original post  used an orange slice which would be the healthier way to go), chocolate chips for the eyes and mini chocolate chips for the mouth.  These were just set on top of the powdered donut, so of course they fall apart easily.  Check out the original idea here to see a more lasting version. I decided to take the easy route and J had no problem deconstructing it as he ate.  This is also something you could get an older child to help with.  Lining up the tiny chocolate chips would’ve been too difficult for J at this stage. 

    To make the Snowflakes:

    Use toothpicks to attach the mini-marshmallows together in whichever snowflake design you want.  I’ve also seen this done with gumdrops.  Again, older ones could help create these too.  J could likely accomplish a toddler version of this, but I also envision him stabbing himself with the toothpick while forcing it through the marshmallows!

    Other ideas are for your snow-themed meal :

    Snowballs (boiled eggs… this was on my list for breakfast until I realized DH ate all of them!)

    Snowman on a stick (a good way to include some fruit)

    Snowman Rice Crispie Treats 

    Snowball Surprise Cookies

    Our other snow-themed activity for the day was Snow-Painting and I’m happy to report it’s a success with two year olds too. 

    A few changes this year were more colors, two trays of snow (both needed to be refilled a few times), and medicine droppers along with paint brushes and sponge brushes.  The medicine droppers were huge hits (which I love because it adds fine motor skill practice).  In all honesty, he spent about 15-20 minutes on actual painting and another 20-25 minutes on color mixing (I even replinished the colors for him since they eventually all turned brown).  But he was occupied and having fun!  I did have to remind him how to paint in the snow because he got frustrated at first (you can’t make simple strokes but have to dab the snow).  TIP:  I use a waterproof table cover as a “blanket” to protect my floors.  It’s worked great for 2 years and keeps my floors nice (last year cheap linoleum and this year nice hardwood floors).

    Favorite Snow Posts

    Here’s a reminder of a few of our fun winter activities from last year.

    Snow Painting