Hello, winter, and hello, celebrations! Ready to celebrate winter in your classroom? These activities will be perfect for your learners and ❄️ snow ❄️ much fun (sorry, I had to ???? ). Whether it is December, and you’re wanting ways to celebrate before Winter Break WITHOUT doing Christmas or December celebrations, or it’s January or February, and you’re looking for something special to get you closer to Spring Break, these are for you!
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As you probably know, I teach in a public school near Madison, WI. Because of this, and because of the diverse population of students I have, I do not celebrate Christmas in my classroom. Throughout the years, I have had many, many students who do not celebrate Christmas, and any mention of Santa, or Christmas trees, automatically leaves them out and makes them feel excluded. And that is the LAST thing I want my students to ever feel, so I have made the decision to never do any sort of Christmas celebration in my classroom.
So, my teaching partner and I have worked to create another kind of special celebration with our students before we leave for winter break.
Today I’m going to share with you how we set up a winter celebration for our first graders. While there was some cost, almost everything was purchased at our local dollar tree and some things we already had in our homes or classrooms. If you’re looking for ways to do this with no cost to you, try setting up a Donors Choose project, or asking families to donate items you need. Check out >>THIS<< blog post: 5 tips for getting your Donors Choose projects funded.
Our Dollar Tree has tinsel garland and plastic tablecloths in MANY colors. I bought 2 table clothes (remember, only $1 each) and cut them up to make table runners for our 10 tables in both classrooms.
Door Decorattions and Tablecloths
Take a look at the table runners in the picture below on the right and how easy it was to add some fun tinsel to our classroom doors.
Smart Board Fire Place
One of my favorite things to do in the winter is to turn on a crackling fireplace from youtube. A lot of them have Christmas music, which I don’t like to play, so search for a crackling fireplace or click >>HERE<< for one I have used. Add in classical music for extra detail. (Don’t mind the #reallife classroom photo. Yes, that eyes watching poster is bothering me too.)
(Side note: I use video link for youtube videos I share with my students. It takes out all of the ads and just shows the video.)
2. Morning Meeting
We are a responsive classroom school so we start each day with a morning meeting that has 4 parts: greeting, share, activity, and message. Check out >>THIS<< blog post to learn more about morning meetings.
To go with our winter theme, we included as many winter activities as we could.
We did a normal greeting, then this winter share. All of the students had to think about their favorite winter activities and collected them on this sheet. We then shared this with parents as suggestions for things to do over winter break.
Next, our activity was a fun winter edition this or that. Students had to pick which “thing” they liked best and then do the corresponding exercise. It definitely got their hearts pumping.
You can grab our editable morning meeting and ideas slides >>HERE<<.
3. Celebrate Winter Crafts & Activities
Later in the day, we did some craft and activities rotations. We split up our classes into three groups and between my teaching partner, a fabulous para that works in our room, and myself, we had teachers to lead each group.
Snowmen Stress Balls
With my group, I made snowmen stress balls. All it took was a few funnels, balloons, sharpies, and bath gel or Epsom salt. I let them choose between the bath gel or salt. In hindsight, I would have just stuck with Epsom salt. The bath gel felt better in the balloon, but we had 1 catastrophe ball explosion on the way out to the bus.
They took sharpies and decorated their snowmen however they wanted (some made them into reindeer).
Then one of the group activities was to decorate their handprint to be snowmen. They were our small gift to our parents and they just turned out so cute!
This was my FAVORITE activity of the day! We had a few parent volunteers come and have students paint their handprint with white paint earlier in the morning. They wrote their name and we let it dry.
Then one of the stations was to decorate their painted handprint. We printed examples they could copy, or create their own. I think they turned out so cute. This is definitely something I would love to get as a parent.
Snowstorm in a Jar
The last winter activity in the rotations was a snowstorm in a jar science experiment. We created the jar with baby oil, paint, and water, and let the students add in the Alka Seltzer to watch it storm! The kids loved it!
This was something I found on Pinterest, and it turned out OK. It takes a lot of Alka Seltzer, but looks pretty cool.
We had a few other ideas that we wanted to try but didn’t want to do too many, so I have created a Pinterest board with all of them. If you have parent volunteers or more teachers to help, you could do a few more of these. I’m sure your students would love them all!
Book Giveaway & Celebrate Winter Packet
Finally, as our gift to students, we have collected books with Scholastic points and students got to pick a winter book to take home. While most of the books were winter-themed, there were a few winter holidays books, including one of the only Spanish options that Scholastic has which was Christmas, and a few Kwanzaa and Hannukah books.
Students picked out their book, we wrote their names on it, and they put it straight in their backpacks to enjoy with their families at home.
Celebrate Winter Fun Packet
We have a group of students this year who absolutely LOVE to color, draw, do word searches, and color-by-numbers, so we created a small packet of worksheets for them to work on while we pulled students to pick out their books. We had our fireplace and music on the smartboard, let them move around the room, and spend some quiet work time on their packet.
Whatever they didn’t finish, they were so excited to finish at home. Sometimes it’s the easiest things that they are so excited about. They LOVED this packet.
Check out the Celebrate Winter Pinterest board >>HERE<< for some FREE printables you might want to print for your students.
The ones I printed and included were:
Overall, I’d say it was a successful day! My teaching partner and I said we may even try to do another day like this before spring break. We had so much fun.
Other Winter Resources You Might Like:
As always, I’d love for you to pin and share with others.
Please comment, or email me >>HERE<< with any ideas, questions, or suggestions.