21 Activities and Lessons That Have a Winter Theme

Today is the first day of winter in the northern hemisphere. To mark the start of winter I've put together a list of twenty-one activities and lessons that have a winter theme. 

Snowy Outdoor Activities
I enjoy winter and my kids do too. We like to sled, ski, snowshoe, and just play outside in the snow. If you live where we do, it's a long winter if you don't learn to the love the snow.

NOVA, as a part of their program on Denali, has directions for building a snow cave and directions for building an Igloo.

Boys' Life offers a list of outdoor winter games as well as directions for building igloos and snow shelters.

Making your own snowshoes is an activity that can be done indoors with the final product enjoyed outdoors. There are dozens of DIY snowshoe videos on YouTube. This one is a little bit too quick, but it does have a detailed materials list in the description. 

When I was about seven or eight I was given a copy of The American Boy's Handy Book (available for free in Google Books). The book is filled with fun hands-on indoor and outdoor activities including an entire section devoted to snow forts and other snow-related activities. I took my tattered copy off the shelf last winter and explained to my daughters that the book was written when people thought that girls couldn't do the same things as boys, but now we know better. We then turned to the section about making ice-fishing traps. Now they can't wait to go ice-fishing, again! 

Playing outdoor bingo is a fun way to get kids outside and exploring the nature in their neighborhoods. Watch this video to learn how you can create your own outdoor Bingo boards using Flippity's Google Sheets template.

Video Lessons About Winter Weather
The following video explains how windchill is calculated. The video comes from Presh Talwalkar.


Television news reporters like to use the word "extreme" whenever we have a lot of rain or snow in a short amount of time. Is the weather really "extreme" or is that just our impression of it? The following Minute Earth video takes on the topic of how extreme weather affects our thinking about weather patterns in general. I found the video to be interesting from a psychology perspective. The video is embedded below.


The video from Reactions that is embedded below explains how snowflakes are created.


Thundersnow is a video from UNC-TV that explains how thunder sometimes, though rarely, coincides with snowstorms. PBS Learning Media has a set of corresponding lesson materials that you can use with this video.

Why the Full Moon is Better in Winter explains how the combination of the position of the moon relative to Earth and snow on the ground make the moon appear brighter in the winter than in the summer. Take a look at the video as embedded below. 

Where do Snowflakes Come From? is a SciShow Kids video about how snow is formed. What is a Blizzard? also comes from SciShow Kids and does a good job of explaining the difference between a blizzard a regular snowstorm. Both videos are embedded below.

Video Lessons About the Winter Solstice
What is a Solstice? is a National Geographic video. The two minute video explains why we experience solstices. The video also explains why the solstice and the first day of winter aren't always the same.

PBS Kids Nature Cat has a cute video that explains the basic concept of winter and summer solstice.

Last year TIME published a video featuring "four things you probably didn't know about the winter solstice." Spoiler alert! You probably knew them, but the video will remind you about those things.

Mechanism Of The Seasons is a six minute video about why the length of daylight we receive in a location changes throughout the year. This video could be helpful in a flipped classroom environment.

Autumn Stars and Planets is a short PBS video that explains why the stars and planets that we see from Earth change with the seasons. The video is embedded below.

Indoor and Online Winter-themed Activities
Lumio, a new service from SMART that I wrote about last month, has a collection of a dozen ready-made winter-themed online activities including winter poetry writing, math snowmen, and a winter "would you rather?" quiz. 

Flippity offers a template for making your own online snowman activity in which students have to guess the correct letters to spell words before the snowman melts. Here's a demo of how to use the template. 

Surviving Winter is a PBS Learning Media online activity for elementary school and middle school students. The activity consists of reading and watching videos about how animals adapt to survive through winter. Students have to complete writing and word sorting activities as they move through each section of the Surviving Winter activity. 

ReadWorks has a big collection of reading activities arranged around the theme of winter. A couple of those activities include a lesson on Beating the Winter Blues and a lesson about Robert Frost's Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening