December 21st is known as the winter solstice or the first day of winter. It is the shortest day and longest night of the year. Although your students will probably have sugar plums dancing in their heads this week, you might want to add a touch of science to your lesson plans with these ideas.
Science – Ask your students what causes winter. (Accept their answers without judging.) Have one child pretend to be the sun and stand in the middle of the circle. Use a globe to demonstrate how the earth rotates around the sun. It takes 365 days or one year for the earth to go all around the sun. Demonstrate how the earth tilts on its axis away from the sun to cause winter. Why? What happens when the earth tilts toward the sun?
Signs of Winter – Brainstorm signs of winter. What happens to the temperature in winter? What happens to the plants? What happens to animals?
Vocabulary – Make an attribute web of winter words. Include winter clothing, sports, holidays, etc.
Animals Adapt – How do animals adapt in the winter? What animals hibernate?
What animals migrate?
Habitats – Some habitats are very cold in the winter with ice and snow. Other habitats are warmer in the winter. Use a map of the United States and have children identify their state. Do they have ice and snow in the winter? Can they find a state where it’s warm and sunny in the winter? What do they think causes the difference?
Internet Search – Visit a weather site, such as weather.gov, to compare regional weather.
Nature Walk – Go on a nature walk and look for signs of winter. Let each child take a digital photograph of a sign of winter. Put these together to make a class collage.
Trees – Explain that evergreen trees stay green all winter. Deciduous trees lose their leaves in the winter. Can they find evergreen and deciduous trees on the playground? Can they find them in their yard at home?
Make a Book – Staple two sheets of paper and let children use descriptive writing to make a book called “Winter Is…”
Creative Writing – Invite children to write a story about “Old Man Winter.” I found this great writing paper free at www.teach-nology.com.
Read a Book – What’s your favorite winter book to read to your class?
Wishing you happy winter days!!!