Winter Themes and Units for Preschool, Pre K, and Kindergarten: Lesson Plans, Activities, and Crafts

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This winder consider adding a mix of new preschool or kindergarten themes and units to your regular curriculum. Many teachers benefit from rotating through different units and themes during a season or switching up the whole curriculum from one year to the next. Remember that you can use a strong unit through the full academic curriculum. It does not, and should not, be limited to one or two subject areas. Once you get comfortable working topics into multiple subjects, the ideas will start to flow more easily. Before long, you will have more material that you ever need. Happy winter!

Unit Ideas

Winter Unit Ideas
Christmas Traditions / Christmas Around the World
Snow / Snowflakes / Ice
Snowmen
Penguins
Winter Sports / Winter Olympics
Polar Bears
Pine Trees / Pine Cones
Winter Weather Gear / Safety

Winter Units and Themes are Perfect For All of the Following Academic Areas

 
Subjects
 
Reading
Writing
Math
Science
Social Studies
Art
 
Music
 

Christmas Traditions / Christmas Around the World

I love to decorate my home for the holidays with items that I've made.
I love to decorate my home for the holidays with items that I've made. | Source
  • There are Christmas traditions that take place all over the world. Pick a few favorites and focus on them or learn about a new tradition or two every day so that you can cover a bunch throughout December.
  • Celebrate a few of these traditions in your own classroom. For example, play a game or make a recipe.
  • Share family traditions. Have students bring in any objects that are related to their traditions, such as recipes and books. Don't forget to share a tradition or two of your own. Talk about how these traditions got started and why you do or don't like them.
  • Why do we have traditions? Why are they important for families and cultures? Have students dictate their answers and draw pictures to go with them.

Snow / Snowflakes / Ice

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Even if you don't live in a cold climate with frequent winter snows, kids may still be interested to learn about these types of climates.

  • Discuss how no two snowflakes are alike and study close up photos of them so that students can observe this for themselves.
  • Bring in a few snow globes and/or make your own snow globes and talk about how the snow looks as it is falling.
  • Put together a word wall with words to describe snow and use it throughout your unit for writing activities.
  • If you live in an area where it does snow, get out and experience it first hand during the unit if you can. Draw pictures and write stories about what it's like being outside while it's snowing.
  • Have students make estimates about how long it takes for snow to melt. Bring some snow inside and find out if any of the predictions were correct.
  • Learn about activities that you can do in the snow such as sledding, skiing, and snowboarding. (Check out the winter sports theme section below for more inspiration.)
  • Make a memory or matching game with snowflake cards.
  • Don't forget to make a few snowflakes out of paper or other materials of your choosing. You can display them in the classroom during the unit. Experiment with painting pictures of snow as well.

If you live in an area that doesn't get a lot of snow, check out a snowstorm video or two online.

Snowmen

This little snowman is ready to go on his little orange sled.
This little snowman is ready to go on his little orange sled. | Source
  • Identify the shapes that you need to make a snowman, including details such as the face and clothing.
  • Discuss considerations for building a snowman, such as having bigger balls on the bottom and smaller balls on top and the type of snow that works best.
  • If you're able to make real snowmen during the unit, take advantage of this opportunity. Don't forget to include a face and accessories (i.e. hat, scarf). Take pictures of the process and then display them in the classroom.
  • Construct pretend snowmen that you can hang up on a bulletin board and/or display on a Christmas tree, mantel, or other area of the home.

Penguins

Penguin at the Milwaukee County Zoo
Penguin at the Milwaukee County Zoo | Source
  • Learn about the different types of penguins including how they look and where they live. What are the similarities and differences?
  • Learn the names of the different parts of the penguin (i.e. beak, flippers).
  • Learn how penguins walk and try to imitate it.
  • Watch videos of penguin activities in action, such as penguins walking and mom penguins feeding their babies.
  • Make penguin masks out of paper and/or fabric and act out favorite penguin books or penguin stories that students wrote themselves.
  • Read some of the books in the Tacky the Penguin series. There are a wide variety of free lesson plans available online for them.
  • Construct your own penguins out of paper and other materials of your choosing. Encourage students to add lots of details such as faces, scarves, hats, bow ties, and other clothing and accessories.

Do you have penguins at your local zoo? Pay them a visit during your unit.

show route and directions
A markerMilwaukee County Zoo -
10001 West Blue Mound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA
[get directions]

B markerSan Antonio Zoo -
3903 North Saint Mary's Street, San Antonio, TX 78212, USA
[get directions]

C markerOmaha's Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium -
3701 South 10th Street, Omaha, NE 68107, USA
[get directions]

Winter Sports / Winter Olympics

Winter Sports
Ice skating
Skiing
Sledding
Snowboarding
Snowmobiling
Ice hockey
Curling
  • Learn about different types of winter sports including Winter Olympics sports. Have students share their favorite winter sports and why they like them.
  • Watch winter sports in action online or better yet, in person. If you have an ice rink in your area, you should be able to watch a hockey game and/or figure skating.
  • When and where are the next Winter Olympics? Unless it happened very recently, preschool and kindergarten students may be too young to remember the last Winter Olympics, but they can get excited about the upcoming games.
  • As a class, design your own Olympics. You can make up some of your own games and/or research classroom Olympic games online. There are a wide variety of options readily available. Have opening and closing ceremonies, play the games, and award prizes for the winners.

Kim - Women's Figure Skating - Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games

Polar Bears

Milwaukee County Zoo
Milwaukee County Zoo | Source
  • Keep a KWL chart about what you know about polar bears (K), what you want to know about polar bears (W), and what you learn about polar bears (L) during the unit.
  • There are so many interesting facts about polar bears from their diet to how they swim to where they live. Introduce a new fact or two throughout the unit so that students do not get too overwhelmed. Review the previously learned facts each day.
  • Discuss why polar bears would or would not make good pets.
  • Construct polar bears out of paper and other materials of your choosing and have students make up stories about them. Consider having students dictate stories and then have the class act them out later either for each other or another class.
  • Are there polar bears at your local zoo? See if you can arrange a talk or special demonstration with the zoo.

Pine Trees / Pine Cones

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Tip: Do you have a sensory bin in your classroom? Add some pine cones during the winter months!

Pine Trees / Pine Cones

  • Learn about the different types of pine trees. What are the similarities and differences?
  • If you live in an area with pine trees, take a little excursion outside to visit them and collect a few (or a lot) of pine cones. Can you identify the type or types of pine trees?
  • Make pine cone bird feeders. Hang them around the school and/or have students take them home and then share their experiences of watching the birds feed out of them.
  • Construct pine cone people and/or animals and act out stories about them. Be creative with the details that you include such as faces, clothing, and accessories (i.e. hats, glasses) and the materials that you use (i.e. paper, fabric, sequins, beads).
  • There are lots of simple, inexpensive crafts that you can make out of pine cones (see the links below on the right). If you are doing a pine cone unit in winter, consider making holiday ornaments and wreaths and other seasonal décor items.

Winter Weather Gear / Safety

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Winter Weather Gear / Safety

  • Go through the various clothing items and accessories that you need to wear to be safe in the winter and talk about why each one is important.
  • Discuss specific winter activities that your class engages in on a regular basis, such as playing at recess and sledding with friends, and how they should dress for them.
  • Think about winter considerations for your area. For example, is there a river that never quite freezes or are there hills that are notoriously icy? Discuss safety precautions for local hazards.
  • Talk about precautions for indoor winter safety as well, such as practices around a fireplace.
  • Don't forget to discuss tips for staying healthy in the winter, such as washing hands and staying home when you're sick.

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Comments 8 comments

FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

How I wish I had had something like this when my daughter was younger. Rose, you are so talented and full of imaginative ideas for growing little minds. Well done.


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

FlourishAnyway, it's amazing how many teaching / parent resources there are online these days. I really appreciate the feedback!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Wow you have put some word into this and it looks great! Well done. ^


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Thanks, Jackie! I appreciate that.


Sheri Faye profile image

Sheri Faye 2 years ago from Chemainus. BC, Canada

I wish you had been my teacher!


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

Aw, thanks, Sheri!


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

Oops, meant work...


randomcreative profile image

randomcreative 2 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin Author

No worries!

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