Cozy Winter Nook

 

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We don’t have to escape to a fancy hotel or retreat center…instead we can create a nurturing space at home! Though if you ever get the chance to stay at the Shelburne Farms, pictured above, take the opportunity.

Imagine carving out a space in your home that makes you feel warm and cozy. Maybe it’s a spot to sit and read, maybe it’s a spot to paint, maybe it’s where you lay your yoga mat, or maybe it’s just a spot to do absolutely nothing! 

This week I want you to brainstorm ways that you could create a “Cozy Winter Nook” that offers comfort and softness for you to enjoy over the next couple of months. Winter is a perfect time to embrace slowing down and taking time to nurture ourselves.

This can become a space that is your own personal retreat that you can look forward to at the end of each day. Or a space for you to linger longer during the weekends. We should be making time and space for “purposeful rest” and intentionally schedule in time as a way to refuel and recharge yourself. 

Step 1. Brainstorm: “If you were to add items to a drawer in your bedroom (or a basket) that reminded you to rest, what would you put in there?”

Step 2: Create SPACE: Begin to create the PHYSICAL SPACE by decluttering an area that feels good for you to rest…but don’t get so wrapped up in cleaning that you forget to sit & enjoy your cozy nook! We often need a gentle reminder that rest is important so also create MENTAL SPACE and agree that when you visit your cozy nook it isn’t to be “productive”. Think of what nourishes you and helps you relax…reading for pleasure, painting, journaling, doodling, meditating, etc.

Step 3: Commit to using your space for rest and relaxation on a regular basis. What frequency feels right to you~ daily for 10 minutes, 3 times per week…

What ground rules do you want to set for yourself ~ phone in a different room, little sign you put on the door so the family leaves you alone for 10 minutes…

Set yourself an achievable “Purposeful REST Goal” and write it down as part of your “Wellness Action Plan” 

Step 4: Reflect Write down a few words about how your cozy nook supports you. Post it somewhere so you are reminded to revisit and prioritize “cozy nook time”! When we take time to reflect we begin to be intentional with how we spend our time and reminds us to see the beauty all around us.

Animal Tracking with Children

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Animal Tracks- after a fresh snowfall, it’s so much fun to find and follow a set of animal tracks in your backyard (even cat tracks are fun to find and follow). See how far you can follow the animal tracks and try to figure out who left those tracks.Older children might enjoy drawing the tracks they find into a journal and identifying them. If you carry a digital device you could also use an app like “SEEK” to help you identify the tracks in the moment. 

Fiction Book to get your tracking started – Read the book “Tracks in the Snow” by Wong Herbert Yee about a little girl who sees tracks out of her window. A refrain in the book is wonderful to share when you go outside on your tracking adventure…. “Tracks in the snow. Tracks in the snow. Who made the tracks? Where do they go?”

Snowshoe Stomping Paths- who made this heart? As a big kid, I love to put on my own snowshoes and stomp out special messages or create paths for my preschoolers. I think it’s important to show children how much we ourselves enjoy playing outdoors all year round!

Mini World Animal Play – adding cotton batting to the indoor science area, providing small play animals, and books is a great way to extend their learning.

Photograph Tracks & Research –  Take a photograph on tracks on your hike, then print out the pictures, and look in a tracking book to find a match. One of my favorite books to have on hand in my classroom is called Tracks, Scats, and Signs by L. Dendy. Helping children to learn how to use books as a tool is wonderful life skill and children love to feel ‘grown up’. 

Follow the Footprints activity: Make animal footprints that are to scale of the actual size of the animal. (I am using Deer & Moose this year.) Before the students arrive, put the footprints out in the outdoor space. Then have the children track the prints down and follow the animal.

Flip Flop Tracks – there are lots of pins on Pinterest showing how people transform flip flops into various animal tracks. It would be fun to make these so they could be tied onto a pair of boots, then kids could stomp out their own versions of animal tracks. 

Animal Signs in Winter – Look for other signs of animal activity – nibbled twigs, chewed acorn shells, pinecones that have been shredded, scat, or scratches in bark – as we go on our winter walks we look for signs that animals have been there. There is a great one page handout in the Cultivating Joy and Wonder curriculum (on page 228) to use as a reference. 

  • Look for the ends of twigs that have been gnawed, nibbled, or snapped off
  • Look for bark that’s been gnawed or stripped off, or the the remains of nibbled nuts
  • Look for poop! Animal poop (scat) can help us identify the naimale and what it’s been eating
  • Look for animal homes (squirrel leaf nests, holes in trees, dead logs) 

https://shelburnefarms.org/our-work/resources/cultivatingjoyandwonder

Winter Track Walk Data Collection: Taking a winter walk in the forest looking for animal tracks can be quite the adventure for young children. Explain that in addition to tracks people also look for tree scarring and scat (animal droppings). Look for real animal tracks and other signs that animals have been there. Help the children learn how to approach the tracks slowly without disturbing the tracks so all their friends can see before we make our own tracks over top of them. Over time continue to take photographs of the tracks so that you can print and make a classbook of your discoveries. Who are the frequent animal visitors in your area? Make tally marks or some other data collection so you can see who are the most frequent visitors. 


Animal Track Pattern Cards – give each child their own ‘Animal Track Pattern Cards’ to wear as a necklace. Help children learn the four categories of animal movement (straight walker, hopper, waddler, bounder) and test it out with your own body. I like to start with teaching about the “hoppers” and pretend we are snowshoe hares. When children feel this movement in their body it is easier to understand how different animals move. This makes for a great gross motor game to play! You can get a free printable “Track Patterns” from the Shelburne Farms Cultivating Joy and Wonder book on page 221 – https://shelburnefarms.org/our-work/resources/cultivatingjoyandwonder

Looking for a few more curriculum ideas? Check out these three elated lessons from the Cultivating Joy and Wonder book from Shelburne Farms: 

“Active in Winter! Animals on the Move” p.102-103 (115-116)

“Signs in the Snow” p.106-107 (119-120)

“Owl Eyes” p.131-132 (144-145)

Make a cast of a track in MUD – directions at this youtube video with plaster https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_ksi4Ih_wU&t=54s

Small Scale Track Making : Bring a few plastic toy animals outdoors. Show the kids how they can make the animals walk through the snow leaving behind mini tracks. Tracks can also be made with toy vehicles. Play a version of hide and seek where children make tracks with toys and another child goes to look for where they end & find the toy. Tracking Basket: in the outdoor classroom, display an animal track identification poster on the fence or wall. Keep a small tracking manual or plastic tracking cards available for the kids to explore. Animal Tracks matching cards could be laminated and kept on a ring. One set that is very preschool age appropriate (though the tracks are not to scaled) is at PreKinders. This link takes you to a  *FREE*  printable animal track book with predictable text “This is a raccoon track.” with color pictures and clip art of the track. There is also a set of animal photos and track cards that can be printed out and made into a matching game. https://www.prekinders.com/animal-tracks-book/

Children’s Booklist for Animal Tracks:

Arnosky, Jim. Wild Tracks!  (This is a wonderful book with amazing fold out pages of life sized tracks)
Arnosky, Jim. I See Animals Hiding.
Benjamin, Cynthia and Jacqueline Rogers. Footprints in the Snow. (This is an easy reader book that is often found as a $1 book through Scholastic Book Club.)

Dendy, L. Tracks, Scats, and Signs. (Favorite reference book to keep in my backpack to use to identify animal tracks and scat.)
Dodd, Anne Wescott. Footprints and Shadows.
Dorros, Arthur. Animal Tracks.
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
Hulbert, Laura. Who Has These Feet?

Hodgkins, F. Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks. (includes tracks from: cat, turkey, moose, skunk)
Jones, Jennifer. Who Lives in the Snow?
Judge, Lita. Red Sled

Levine, Lynn and Martha Mitchell. Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life-Size Tracking Guide (Another great reference book with actual size tracks that make it easier for children to identify.)

Miller, Dorcas. Track Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America.
Selsam, Millicent E. Big Tracks, Little Tracks: Following Animal Prints
Sams, Laura. Stranger in the Woods – Photographic Fantasy.
Lawlor, Elizabeth P. Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)
Stall, Chris and Steve Whitney. New England Animal Tracks.
Wilson, Karma & Jack E. Davis. Moose Tracks!

Yee, Wong Herbert. Tracks in the Snow. (A great story to introduce young children to tracking. A girl follows tracks around her home and discovers that they are her own tracks from the previous day.)

Ice Lanterns ~ Arctic Temperature Fun!

One of the realities of life in northern Vermont that winter brings us extreme low temperatures. Rather than deny it or bemoan it, I suggest that we embrace it!

When I know that we are going to have a Arctic like temperatures I like to seize the opportunity to make: ice lanterns, ice balls, and other icy explorations for my preschoolers. This post is a round up of pictures to inspire you to try your own hand at making the most of the frigid temperatures!

ICE LANTERNS – gather up large plastic containers and fill with water to freeze, add some natural materials like pine boughs. When frozen solid, put on eye protections chip a little indent with a screwdriver and insert tea lights or small candles. Some sources suggest using two different containers one inside the other, but my method makes a really solid lantern that will last a LONG time! I use mine outdoors and love the glow amongst the dark night!

Create a whole display with multiple ice lanterns and adorn them with icicles. After dark the icicles glow as the shadows of the candles dance!
Ice Balls ~ these are great fun to make with children. If you want more perfect spheres, fill the balloon with water and then set inside a similar sized plastic bowl. If you lie them flat like here they don’t roll as well…and you definitely want to try rolling these for a bowling game or with ramps!

As the lanterns are used the crevice becomes deeper. You can try adding more water on another frigid night so that it will last longer. The ice lanterns I made in 2021 lasted for almost 2 months!

Ice Sun Catchers – using small shallow pans try creating sun catchers with natural materials. Children love to create these and then once frozen…deconstruct them. Just remember eye protection when chipping or smashing ice.
Ice Sculpture – go big or go home! Grab all the buckets and containers you can find and make a entire palace out of ice. I saw took this photo years ago as I was driving home from southern Vermont. The family had created an ice rink and also had this inspiring colorful ice sculpture display!
Ice Hunting – I have an ongoing project to find the largest icicle that I can. While hiking the Rail Trail in December we found some beauties but these are tiny compared to last years 5 footers!
Bundle up ~ invest in a Balaclava!

No exposed skin is the way to survive (and even thrive) in the frigid temperatures. It turns out that with layering and getting out of the wind, you can still get outside even when an Arctic blast rolls through! I shared this rather unflattering photo on Instagram recently with the caption: “Question: What would you do to spend some quality time with your teenage son? Answer: Travel to the planet Hoth for some ice fishing while hoping that a Tauntaun might come offer a warm spot to defrost! “

Unlike Elsa who said, “Let the storm rage on. The cold never bothered me anyway.”…many of us just are NOT comfortable being outdoors in the cold. In one of my recent trainings, “Nurtured by Nature: Winter Wellness” I shared some of my tips for staying warm outdoors.

Staying Warm Strategies:

  • Get the right gear & wear layers. Not sure what to buy ~ borrow gear from friends to test out & talk to others. Outdoor stores are happy to talk about options to keep you warm. You don’t have to break the bank when you learn how to layer. (which is a post for another day)
  • Try going outdoors for shorter lengths of time
  • Be active while outdoors – keep moving and PLAY!
  • Go out at the warmest part of the day
  • Avoid windy areas 
  • No exposed skin — get yourself a Balaclava type mask which is made of stretchy, breathable fabric that protects your face while wicking away moisture. Function before fashion!
  • HYDRATED before going out
  • Consider using toe or hand warmers 
  • If the cold really bothers you…invest in heated gloves, socks, vest, or jacket! It’s not a sign of weakness but rather a strategy that might motivate you to go outdoors more often this winter!  

Additional blog posts for winter ideas:

Winter Science for Preschool – https://aprilsteachingtree.com/2020/12/18/winter-science-for-preschool/

Winter Inspired Math Activities – https://aprilsteachingtree.com/2020/12/21/winter-inspired-math-activities/

Children’s Books for a Winter Study Unit – https://aprilsteachingtree.com/2017/11/15/childrens-books-for-winter-studies/

Snowflake Catching Necklaces – https://aprilsteachingtree.com/2017/01/19/snowflake-catching-necklaces/

Upcoming Training ~ “Nurtured by Nature: Winter Self Care”

Sponsor: Northern Lights at CCV

Instructor: April Zajko

With shorter daylight hours and frigid weather you might find yourself ready to hibernate. This two-hour training will give you a toolkit of simple wellness and gentle self-care strategies to integrate into your daily routines. You will learn ways that nature can gently nurture you and help you feel invigorated throughout the winter months!

Winter Inspired Math Activities

Counting Practice Counting how many steps to get outside, counting how many sleds, counting the number snow trucks, …counting just about anything that we see!

Counting Tracks Notice tracks in the snow and see if you can count how many steps the animal took to get from one place to the other. Compare the steps for children and the adult. 

Magic Number = Counting Sets “Today our ‘magic number is ___. Help me count everyone in line before we go outside to make sure we have our magic number!” (The magic number is the number of children who are here today and is an embedded counting routine we do several times a day. Try writing the numeral down to work on number recognition as well.  

Sled Count “1-2-3 blast off”- count up to three before the sled riders get their push down the hill. Practice counting higher up to 10 if they are patient enough! Or try counting backwards 3-2-1!

Snowman Features – Practice counting groups by counting the number of buttons, eyes, mouth pieces, etc. 

Snowball Fractions- Create several large snowballs and practice cutting them into ‘fair shares’ – talk about halves, quarters, and fourths! Make a ‘snow cake’ by using a large plastic tote as a mold and cut it into enough pieces to serve to every child! Count how many kids there are and then count to make sure there is enough for each child!

Snowball Groups – Create two different groups of snowballs – compare which looks like there is more. Count and discuss 

Painting Numerals in the Snow

Tracking & Position Words – Even if the only ‘tracks’ on your playground are the neighbor’s cat or squirrels children will love to follow them and describe what the animal was doing. Ask leading questions that get the children to use spatial words. 

Sledding Conversation  Make sure the rope is inside the sled or it will slow your ride down. Both friends need their hands on top of the sled so our fingers don’t get pinched. Put your legs around the person in front. When you get down the hill move to the side of where we sled so no one bumps into you. Pull the sled up to the top of the hill. 

Stick Shapes – explore building 2D shapes by offering a collection of sticks of various sizes. Squares, rectangles, triangles…as well as coming up with creative designs. Read the book, “Not a Stick”!

Shape Stamps – explore making 2D shapes by bringing out different shapes that you cut out of cardboard. Children can push the cut out into the snow to make designs or pictures. 

3D Snow Shapes & Sculptures- explore making 3D shapes by making snowballs (spheres) and using plastic molds in different shapes. Orange juice container cut into smaller square (cubes); snow brick makers (rectangular prism), and 5 gallon food buckets (cylinder).

Measuring Snow – Set up a “Snow Measurement Board” by getting a 24×24 inch of exterior grade plywood. Have the children help you paint the plywood on both sides and edges with exterior white paint. Purchase a Measuring Stick that has easy to read numbers. Take a reading each day for total snow, and if you clear one half of the board each day you can measure ‘new snow’. Read more at this link for specific directions or just have fun exploring measurement when you think about it. 

https://www.weather.gov/dvn/snowmeasure

Measuring Snowmen – Create a snow family of different heights then compare and contrast the different sizes. Try measuring them using a tape measure or non-standard unit such as Yarn. Read the book, Snowballs by Lois Ehlert. 

Measuring Snow Angels 

Have several children lie down near each other to make Snow Angels. Afterwards talk about the different sizes and compare sizes of each child’s snow angel. 

Walking Stick – Measuring – A walking stick can be a great non-standard unit of measurement. Create several different length walking sticks and use them to measure things in the outdoor classroom. 

Measuring Icicles – children love to examine and investigate icicles. Talk about whether the icicles are short or long; narrow or wide; heavy or light. Make predictions about which one will take the shortest amount of time to melt and which one will take the longest time to melt. Photograph the icicles next to a ruler and compare every hour with a new photo. How does it change over time outside vs. inside?

Recipes in Snow Kitchen – children can explore measurement by adding plastic measuring cups and measuring spoons to the ‘snow kitchen’. Add various sized bowls or containers for scooping and pouring and packing…all great ways to explore volume with snow!

Snow Volume – have children fill up a variety of containers with snow. Pack the snow in tightly and look how full it is. When you go indoors take the filled containers with you and watch the snow melt. Compare how much water is left once fully melted. 

Patterns in the Snow – Use two different types of natural materials and create an AB pattern (such as pinecone, stick, pinecone, stick…). Have children help figure out what comes next and practice extending the pattern. 

Pattern Making with Snowballs & Snow Molds – Use two or more different containers that can be used as a molds – create a pattern such as Snowball, Yogurt container, Snowball, Yogurt container…

“The Snowflake Bentley Mom”

You have heard of the helicopter mom, the tiger mom, and after this blog post, “The Snowflake Bentley Mom”…

To be clear, I am no relation to the Bentley family but while re-reading the children’s book ‘Snowflake Bentley’ by Jacqueline Briggs Martin I thought about how it was an excellent way to reinforce one of my parenting truths… “Follow your child’s interest”

Background info…summarized from the children’s book mentioned above.

At the age of fifteen, Snowflake Bentley’s mom gave him a microscope and he began to observe all sorts of nature. His favorite was to look closely at precipitation and that first winter Snowflake Bentley observed snowflakes under that microscope and hand-drew hundreds of snow crystals.

When he was 17, his parents spent their savings and bought him a special camera with its’ own microscope that could magnify from 64 – 3,600 times it actual size. All of his pictures the first winter were failures but he preserved and by the second winter had figured out how to photograph snowflakes.

As he worked with this micro-photography art form he found a way to improve the quality by cutting away dark parts of the negative around the crystal. This meant he spent hours and hours on a single photograph. Snowflake Bentley believed that the snow crystal photographs would be his gift to the world.

From an economic standpoint this project of required an investment of $15,000 in order to perfect his craft, and though he was able to photograph thousands of snow crystals his work and only received $4,000 from selling slides and photographs. You could say that the Return on Investment wasn’t great, yet his technique has continued to be improved upon and he is still remembered to this day.

His book, Snow Crystals, was published shortly before his death but this Vermont farmer-scientist-artist is revered as a pioneer in the field. I encourage you to read the story, ‘Snowflake Bentley’ by Jacqueline Briggs Martin – first read it to yourself and then read it to the children in your life.

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Reflect on the conviction that Snowflake Bentley had to pursue his interest in snow crystals despite the neighbors thinking his project was a joke.

Consider the impact that receiving a microscope from his mother  had on his life.

Think of the conversation between his parents when they were deciding to investment thousands of dollars on a camera for a project that no one else had done at the time.

Consider the belief that his parents had in their son and the impact of ‘following the child’s interest’.

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I believe that this is a fascinating story of how a farmer blended both science and art together to create a fulfilling (though not lucrative) career in following his childhood interest and passion.

I want to be a “Snowflake Bentley Mom” and invest in my children’s interests and to give them the tools that they need to in order to chase their dreams. It is that belief and support that helps our children reach for the stars!

How about you…does “Follow your child’s interest” resonate with your parenting truths?!

Children’s Books for Winter Studies

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Science behind snow & winter: (some of these are for adults, but the pictures are excellent to share with children)

Anderson, Maxine. Explore Winter!

Bentley, W.A. and W.J. Humphreys. Snow Crystals

Branley, Franklyn M. Snow is Falling

Callaghan, Jean Davis. No Snow for Seth

Cole, Joanna. Plants in Winter

Cassino & Nelson.  The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

Drake, Jane and Ann Love. The Kids Winter Cottage Book

Edison, Erin. Snow

Glasser, Linda. It’s Winter!

Hernandez, Christopher. Learn about weather: Snow

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Schweninger, Ann. Wintertime- Let’s Look at the Seasons

Stewart, Paul. A Little Bit of Winter

Stone, Tanya Lee. Living in a World of White- Where Survival Means Blending In

Taylor, Barbara. Hidden in the Snow

Yankielun, Norbert. How to Build an Igloo & Other Snow Shelters

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Snow, snowmen, and other not to miss winter stories:

Baker, Keith No Two Alike

Ball, Victoria. Bear’s Very Snowy Day

Briggs, Raymond. The Snowman

Buehner, Caralyn. Snowmen at Night

Butler, M. Christina & Tina Macnaughton. Snow Friends

Cartwright, Stephen & Heather Amery. The Snow Storm

Cheng, Andrea. Lemon Sisters.

Child, Lauren. Charlie and Lola: Snow is my favorite and best

Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. Let it Snow

Coleman, Michael. A Silly Snowy Day

Cuyler, Margery. The Biggest, Best Snowman

Ehlert, Lois. Snowballs

George, Jean Craighead. Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here.
George, William T. Winter at the Long Pond.
Hest, Amy. A Snowy Surprise

Hoban, Julia. Amy Loves the Snow

Hudson, Cheryl Willis. What Do you Know? SNOW!

Judge, Lita. Red Sled

Keats, Ezra Jack. Snowy Day

Littledale, Freya. The Snow Child

Lotz, Karen E. Snowsong Whistling

Maestro, Betsy. Snow Day

Mammano, Julie. Rhinos Who Snowboard

McKie, Roy & P.D. Eastman. Snow

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Here Comes the Snow

Morgan, Allen. Sadie and the Snowman

Moss, Miriam. The Snow Bear. (forest animals make a snow bear for little bear cub)

Nelson, Steve & Jack Rollins. Frosty the Snowman

North, Carol. Frosty the Snowman

O’Donnell, Elizabeth Lee. Winter Visitors. (counting book of animals sneaking into a girls home)
Preller, James. Wake Me in Spring.
Plourde, Lynn. Snow Day

Pulver, Robin. Axle Annie

Rylant, Cynthia. Poppleton in Winter

Schecter, Deborah. Cold Rose

Scherer, Jeffrey. One Snowy Day

Schertle, Alice. All You Need for a Snowman

Smith, Dick. Winter Wonderland: Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?

Stringer, Lauren Winter is the Warmest Season.

Waddell, Martin. Owl Babies.

Voskoboinikov, Valery. The Icicle

Walters, Catherine. When will it be Spring?

Weinberger, Kimberley. Winter is Here

Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon.

Bears and animals in winter:

Alborough, Jez. Where is Teddy?

Arnosky, Jim. Every Autumn Comes the Bear. (also includes pictures of ravens, bobcat, raccoon, chickadees, deer, bunnies, fox, & grouse. Simple text make it a great preschool read aloud.)
Bancroft, Henriette and Richard Van Gelder. Animals in Winter.
Benjamin, Cynthia and Jacqueline Rogers. Footprints in the Snow.
Berger, Melvin & Gilda. What do Animals Do in Winter? How Animals Survive the Cold
Bland, Nick. The Very Itchy Bear

Boring, Mel. Rabbits, Squirrels, and Chipmunks.
Brett, Jan. Annie and the Wild Animals

Brown, Tom. Nature Observation & Tracking.
Burns, Diane and Linda Garrow.Tree, Leaves, and Bark (Take Along Guides)
Carle, Eric and Bill Martin, Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
Coleman, Michael. A Silly Snowy Day

Crossingham. What is Hibernation?
Denslow, Sharon Phillips. In the Snow. (chickadee, sparrow, cardinal, crow, squirrel, bunny, mouse & possum. Very simple text and engaging illustrations.)
Fisher, Ron. Animals in Winter.
Fleming, Denise. Time to Sleep.
Galdone, Paul. The Three Bears

Graham-Barber Lynda. The Animals’ Winter Sleep

Hall, M. Hibernation.

Henkes, Kevin. Old Bear.

Holmer, Marilyn F. Beaver Stream (very informative, beautiful illustrations)

Kosara, Tori. All About Hibernation

Krauss, Ruth. The Happy Day

London, Jonathan. Froggy’s Best Christmas (froggy, beaver, turtle & bear get to experience their first Christmas since they woke up from their winter naps.)

McPhail, David. Big Brown Bear.

Meadows, M. Hibernation Station.

Messner, Kate. Over & Under the Snow. (includes information on: red squirrels, shrews, deer, deer mice, voles, shoeshoe hares, bullfrogs, beavers, red fox, chipmunk, black bear, and bumblebees.)

Moore, Eva & Joanna Cole. The Magic School Bus Sleeps for the Winter

Moss, Miriam. The Snow Bear

Murray, Marjorie Dennis. Don’t Wake Up the Bear!

Numeroff, Laura Joffe. IfYou Give a Moose a Muffin

Rosen, Michael. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Rustad, Martha E.H. Foxes and Their Dens.

Salas, Laura Purdie. Do Polar Bears Snooze in Hollow Trees? A Book about Animal Hibernation.
Schaefer, Lola. Deer. (Great pictures, clear language that answers kid’s common questions about deer.)

Schecter, Deborah. Winter is Here (emergent Level A reader)

Souci, Daniel San. North Country Night.

Tagliaferro, Linda. Bears and Their Dens.

Waddell, Martin. Can’t You Sleep Little Bear?

Walters, Catherine. Time to Sleep Alfie Bear. (Set in the summer but a great book to share if you are learning about bears)
Wilson, Karma. Bear Snores On.

Wright, Maureen. Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze!
Yolen, Jane. Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep. (black bear, frog, bat, snake, turtle, gopher, skunk, badger, beaver, mouse, toad, & chipmunk)

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Animal tracks:

Arnosky, Jim. Wild Tracks!  (amazing book with fold out pages of life sized tracks)
Arnosky, Jim. I See Animals Hiding.
Benjamin, Cynthia and Jacqueline Rogers. Footprints in the Snow.

Boyle, Doe. Summer Coat, Winter Coat: The Story of a Snowshoe Hare

Dendy, L. Tracks, Scats, and Signs.
Dodd, Anne Wescott. Footprints and Shadows.
Dorros, Arthur. Animal Tracks.
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
Hulbert, Laura. Who Has These Feet?

Hodgkins, F. Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks. (includes tracks from: cat, turkey, moose, skunk)
Jones, Jennifer. Who Lives in the Snow?
Judge, Lita. Red Sled

Levine, Lynn and Martha Mitchell. Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life-Size Tracking Guide

Miller, Dorcas. Track Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America.
Roberts, James Nail. Whose Tracks are These?

Selsam, Millicent E. Big Tracks, Little Tracks.
Sams, Laura. Stranger in the Woods – Photographic Fantasy.
Lawlor, Elizabeth P. Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)
Stall, Chris and Steve Whitney. New England Animal Tracks.
Wilson, Karma & Jack E. Davis. Moose Tracks!

Yee, Wong Herbert. Tracks in the Snow. (A great story to introduce young children to tracking. A girl follows tracks around her home and discovers that they are her own tracks from the previous day.)
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Polar theme:

Berger, Melvin & Gilda. What Polar Animals Eat

Black, Sonia W. Follow the Polar Bears.

Canizares, Susan & Daniel Moreton. Arctic Winter, Arctic Summer

Canizares, Susan. Who Lives in the Artic?

Martin, Bill & Eric Carle. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

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Winter clothing theme:

Brett, Jan. The Hat

Brett, Jan. The Mitten

Butler, M. Christina. One Snowy Night

Butler, M. Christina. One Winter’s Day

Kellogg, Steven. The Missing Mitten Mystery

Neitzel, Shirley. The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

Tresselt, Alvin. The Mitten

 

 

 

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Teacher’s Booklist for Winter Studies

Anderson, Maxine. Explore Winter!

Archer, Cheryl. Snow Watch

Bentley, W.A. and W.J. Humphreys. Snow Crystals

Cassino & Nelson.  The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

Cole, Joanna. Plants in Winter

Cvancara, Alan. Exploring Nature in Winter

Danks, Fiona & Jo Schofield. Nature’s Playground: Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors.

Dendy, Leslie. Tracks, Scats, and Signs.

Drake, Jane and Ann Love. The Kids Winter Cottage Book

Garrett, Linda & Hannah Thomas. Small Wonders: Nature Education for Young Children

Hoyler, Emily & Linda Wellings. Cultivating Joy & Wonder: Educating for Sustainability in Early Childhood through Nature, Food & Community

Lawlor, Elizabeth. Discover Nature in Winter

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Parrella, Deborah. Project Seasons: Hands-on activities for discovering the wonders of the World.

VanCleave, Janice. Science Around the Year

Yankielun, Norbert. How to Build an Igloo & Other Snow Shelters

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Snow Mazes

img_1131One really simple and fun activity to do outdoors is to create “Snow Mazes”. I like to head outside with my snowshoes on, and pack down a winding path with a couple of dead ends. (This could be created with boots, but will take you much longer.) At the end of the path I hide a large plastic tote by burying it into the snow. Sometimes the tote is pretty easy to spot, but the kids play along since they love the idea of hunting down buried treasure. What to offer as the treasure depends on what you have available. Some ideas to get you started include plastic outdoor toys, colored ice cubes, large chunks of snow, large ‘diamond’ ice chunks or icicles, or a stuffed animal brought from home.

Another option would be to hide treasures along the path and the kids could have a bucket to gather the items such as pine cones or colored ice cubes as they travel the path.

Sometimes these mazes are simple with straight lines so the kids run longer distances, and other times I create lots of twists and turns.

With one group of preschoolers these mazes always turned into an imaginative game of them playing that they were race car drivers, so I brought out a bunch of Frisbees to be their steering wheels.

Children also love to make these mazes their own – maybe suggest they create a pirate’s map first indoors and then create it once they get outside.

Have you made snow mazes for your children? I’d love to hear about them!

Chubby Little Snowman Props

“Chubby Little Snowman” is a classic poem that has been part of my teaching repertoire for almost two decades! I’m not sure of the original source, but I think most early childhood teachers know the poem by heart.

A chubby little snowman
Had a carrot nose.
Along came a rabbit
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny,
Looking for his lunch,
ATE the snowman’s carrot nose…….
Nibble, nibble, CRUNCH!

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After my students learn the rhyme, we create props to act it out. To create the noses, I cut toilet paper tubes and help the children roll them to create a cone shape. Using orange masking tape the children layer on until the whole outside is covered.  This year the kids decided they wanted noses of multi-colors…why limit yourself to just orange! Then we use a whole punch and add thin elastic to make a way to tie the nose on!

For the bunny, we cut out a bunny shape from card stock and tape it onto a tongue depressor. The children then have a set of props that they can use to retell and act out the poem.

Simple and almost free…which are often the most beloved projects we do!

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