by Jean Warren
When things happen, that are different, fun, unusual or just out of the ordinary, you can turn these times into great learning times for young children. Snow is usually one of those events. You can turn this fun time into a real learning time for your children by being aware of the many learning opportunities snow presents for preschool children.
Thinking Skills – Measuring, comparing and observing snow can help children increase their general thinking skills.
Coordination Skills – Snow time is a great time for children to practice coordination skills by throwing, marching, putting on and taking off clothes, etc.
Art Skills – Building castles, dressing up snowmen, making snow design, all give children opportunities to be creative. Cutting out snowflakes is great for improving cutting skills.
Math Skills – Counting snow prints, snowballs, stacking three snowballs together, stacking snowballs by size are wonderful concrete examples of math concepts to help your child gain important math skills.
Music Skills – Snow time is a wonderful time to sing whether you’re playing outside or stuck indoors.
Language Skills – Snow time allows children concrete examples for using such words as; icy, slippery, crunchy, hot and cold. Snow can also be used as a medium for writing out letters or words. Look for snowy day books at your library to read to your child.
Science Skills – The world changes when it is covered with snow. Help your children discover and experience ice, ice cycles, snow drifts, snowflakes, signs of winter, winter animals and observe how plants and trees are different in the snow.
Concept Skills – Numbers, colors, shapes and sizes can all be found on a snowy day. Help your child discover them.
MAXIMIZING TEACHING MOMENTS
You can maximize teaching moments by adding music to your activities. As children engage in outdoor snow activities, encourage them to sing about what is happening. Show your children how they can take the tune of any familiar song and add new words.
Example: They know the song “Jingle Bells” and they are rolling snowballs. Start singing about what they are doing to the tune of “Jingle Bells”. Such as –
This is lots of fun.
I’ll just roll a few more balls
Then I will be done!
Crunch, crunch, crunch
Crunch, crunch, crunch
Marching ‘round the yard,
When there’s snow on the ground
Walking’s kind of hard!
Showing children how to create their own music to accompany their activities gives them a new creative way of expressing themselves. Singing about current activities also makes music meaningful to young children. Singing can increase memory and therefore increase general knowledge.
ROLLING AND THROWING
Children naturally love to roll snow into large balls and throw smaller snowballs. Encourage rolling and throwing. Both of these activities help your child develop their coordination skills. Instead of throwing balls at people, help your child set up a row of plastic bottles to knock over or a tire to throw through.
As children march around in the snow, they will notice that they leave tracks. Encourage your child to make circular tracks, box tracks, x tracks, etc. Learning about beginning shapes will never be more fun!
Most of us remember making snow angels as a child. It is an easy no-lose kind of activity that is great for preschool children. Children simply lie down in the snow, spread out their arms and move them up and down. An impression of their body and lovely angel wings appear when the child stands up to observe.
Fill one or two spray bottles with water and add a few drops of a different food coloring to each bottle. Let your child take the bottles outside and spray designs on the snow. These spray bottles can also be used to spray snow sculptures.
Children can have fun designing and building snow castles just like they build sand castles. Provide them with small buckets and show them how to fill the buckets with snow. Then show them how to turn the bucket up-side-down, then pull the bucket up to dislodge the snow. These tower shapes can be made in a circle to create a castle.
TIP – A little vegetable spray, sprayed in the bucket can help the towers come out easier. Other containers can also be used to create interesting sculptures.
COUNTING AND STACKING SNOWBALLS
When your child is in the mood to make snowballs, encourage her to make a stack and then count them before she uses them in some other way. Also, whenever you and your child engage in stacking up snowballs to make a snowman or whatever, be sure to always have your child count how many snowballs have been stacked.
LETTERS IN THE SNOW
Help your child write his name in the snow or encourage him to make as many letters as he can by walking or writing with a stick in the snow.
Outside or inside on a cold winter day, is a good time to mention winter words to your child. Help her increase her understanding of these words as well as increase her overall vocabulary. Bring into conversation, such words as icy, slippery, hot, cold, freezing, etc.
SNOWMAN’S WARDROBE COLORS
As you search your house for items to dress up your child’s snowman, keep colors in mind. Use this occasion to use a variety of colors so you and your child can discuss the many colors on the snowman (or woman). Example: Black hat, orange nose, blue scarf, green mittens, brown button eyes and red yarn mouth.
An interesting experiment to try with your child on a cold winter day is to make frozen bubbles. Chill a container of bubble solution in the refrigerator. When the temperature outside is below freezing, take your child outside to blow bubbles. Have him observe the bubbles closely as he blows. There are ice crystals forming on the surface of the bubbles. Let him pop the bubbles to see what happens (The bubbles shatter).
MITTEN MATCH UP
Snow time with mittens laying around, is a great time to have your child play a matching skill game. Set out a pile of gloves and mittens. Mix them up and let your child sort them to find matching pairs. Sorting and matching are great pre-reading skills for young children.
INDOOR SNOW FUN
When there is snow outside but children have to stay indoors, you can simulate some of the fun, by letting your children play with small cotton balls. Cotton balls are versatile and you can do many activities with them. You can toss them, blow them, count them, glue them on dark paper for snowflakes, or glue them on circles of white paper to make snowmen. Give your children a bag full and see what creative activities they can come up with.