January's focus was on all things chilly-snow, ice, icicles, snowflakes, and more. The children and I had lots of fun learning about winter weather, states of matter, and how to dress properly for cold weather. We learned a little about how some animals handle the cold weather by hibernating or migrating, and we made a wonderful bear cave to practice hibernating in ourselves!
With the winter weather keeping us indoors so much, we stayed active through a variety of games. Our January circle time activities included a very active rhymes in which we danced like snowflakes, practiced putting on winter clothes, and performed a variety of winter activities like making snow angels, throwing snowballs, and making snowmen. Beyond circle time, we played a version of Pick Up Sticks that involved color matching, and we moved all around the room in the style of a variety of animals.
When the weather cooperated we found so much to do outside- we inspected, identified, and followed animal tracks, slid down hills, and found icicles and melting ice.
One day we couldn't make it oustide, the children worked on some winter-themed multimedia art. First, they got to experiment with color mixing as they combined white with hues of blue and purple, then they got to add texture and work on their hand strength as they squeezed glue and sprinkled Epsom salts onto their painting.
The children loved exploring a bird's eye perspective of a snowman in another art project. They used pastels to blend a blue color around the edges of each circle, then glued on each part of their snowman in proper order.
We explored states of matter through a variety of freezing and melting experiments. The children filled containers with water. We added food coloring to some of the containers and then set them outside to freeze in the chilly weather. The children and I kept a close eye on the containers and noted that ice began to form after only 40 minutes!
The next day was warmer, so we dumped the colored ice blocks out of their containers and had fun making observations as they melted and as we played with them. We ended up making stacked sculptures for the birds to enjoy under the bird feeder.
We also worked on some fun snow-themed artwork as the children decorated and assembled a snowman from the perspective of a bird. We talked about all the different parts of the snowman and what order we should add the parts. The children used their fingers to smudge blue pastel chalk around the edge of each paper "snowball," then used a glue stick and their fingers and hands to glue the pieces together in order. There was lots of wonderful fine motor and listening skills used during this activity!
Later in the month we talked about our "winter gear," our clothes that make winter bearable for us. Snowpants, coats, hats, mittens, boots, and scarves were all part of our vocabulary, and we worked toward independence in putting them on.
The children enjoyed a few winter clothes-themed art projects, too. They created hats with "mystery designs" to reveal as they painted with watercolors. It was exciting to see what shapes were hidden on each hat!
We also made lovely mittens using watercolors, cotton balls, yarn and a very large blunt needle. This was a great activity to hone fine motor skills, too.
During the last week of January, we focused on animal hibernation. We read several books about hibernation and animals in winter including Over and Under the Snow by Kate Messner and Hibernation by Tori Kosara.
We used small puppets mounted on popsicle sticks to tell some stories about animals looking for just the right spot to snuggle up and hibernate.
Our capstone hibernation project was playing a game where we used cardboard boxes to represent burrows, caves, and warm spots for hibernating animals and used beanbags as "food." The children each picked which animal they were and found the right habitat to hibernate in.
Hiding in the boxes was fun from every angle!