Tag Archives: snow

Snowy Ice Cream – Perfect for a Stormy Day

We’re crossing our fingers, hoping for a white Christmas this year.  Looks like we may end up with rain instead.  (We may just have to head for the mountains!)  For those of you with plenty of the white stuff in your local forecast, you might want to try this fun recipe for ice cream.  The main ingredient: Fresh, fluffy snow!  (Taken from this post appearing last year.)

On my first giveaway post, I asked readers to comment with their favorite snowy day activities.  Amber posted these instructions for Snow Ice Cream:

one of my favorite winter activities is making snow ice cream! we did this after the first BIG snow every year when i was a kid – it had to be a BIG snow because you don’t want to get pieces of grass or leaves in your ice cream. ( :

SNOW ICE CREAM

*fresh WHITE snow (heehee)

*a bit of vanilla extract

*a gob of half & half (milk will do)

*a smidgen of granulated sugar

*sprinkles (optional)

 instructions: mix the snow with the vanilla, half & half and sugar. put it in a bowl, top with colored sprinkles (it’s just so cute!) and eat it QUICK! ( :”

She definitely piqued my interest, and I just had to try it out with my own boys after our recent snow storm.

I started out by scooping some of the top layer of snow, and then leaving the bowls out to collect more of the snow as it fell.  You can see it was a substantial storm.  My bowls runneth over!  I brought them in and scooped off the tops into another bowl.  Once you start adding ingredients, you lose a lot of height, so you might need more snow to add back in!

I had ingredients waiting at the ready so that we could get right to work.  Following Amber’s instructions, we scooped, stirred, and tasted.

My boys were amazed as the snow seemed to magically turn into ice cream!

They said it tasted just like vanilla ice cream!  They probably would have said more, but their mouths were full.

This was such a fun activity!  It provided all of the developmental opportunities I mentioned earlier in this post about cooking with children, plus it’s a unique science experience as well as an activity your kiddos are sure to remember.

Incidentally, Amber is an AMAZING photographer!  So if you’re lucky enough to be anywhere near the Treasure Valley sometime (that’s around the Oregon/Idaho border, folks), take advantage of this little treasure!  And even if you’re not so lucky to be there in person, check out her inspiring website anyway!  www.amberfischer.com

For more wintry activities, click here!

 
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Wonderful Winter Books!

I love picture books!  In our family library, my husband’s beautiful leather-bound tomes  line one section of shelves, while my continually growing collection of children’s literature fills another section.  I’d say our respective collections take up about the same amount of real estate, but since I can fit about 20 picture books in the same amount of space as one “War and Peace”, I’d say my collection is larger.  There just never seems to be a bad time to read a good children’s book.  Start of an activity – great!  Rowdy transition time – perfect!  Bedtime – ideal!  It reminds me of the iPhone commercials (“There’s an app for that”).  Any situation, there’s a book for that.  New puppy in the family?  There’s a book for that.  Having a really bad day?  There’s a book for that.  Want to become a pirate?  There’s a book for that too.  Ate too many cupcakes and now you’ve turned pink, which you were really excited about at first, until the birds and bees thought you were a flower and swarmed you, and after one more cupcake you’re actually red, which isn’t nearly as neat as pink and now you need to know how to get back to your normal self?  Wouldn’t you know, there’s a book for that too! (If you think I’m totally off my rocker with that last reference, you need to read Pinkalicious!)

During a winter themed preschool unit, there are plenty of opportunities for a great book.  You might use one to start off outside time, an art project, a game, or a discussion.  Or you might just read one to enjoy it together with your little ones.  For any occasion, here’s a quick list of some of my favorite winter-themed books. Instead of summarizing them myself, I’ve linked each picture to Amazon, which also gives a story summary. 

Snow book & CD set

Snow by Uri Shulevitz

The Snowy Day

The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (Try out Deborah’s idea for an activity, the first comment on this post, or make snow globes like these – though I would use a glue gun instead of duct tape.)

The Snowman

The Snowman by Raymond Briggs

All You Need for a Snowman

All You Need for a Snowman by Alice Schertle (Try With Activity Here)

Snowmen at Night

Snowmen at Night by Caralyn and Mark Buehner (Book Activity Here)

Snowballs

Snowballs by Lois Ehlert

Snip, Snip...Snow!

Snip, Snip, Snow! by Nancy Poydar (Book Activity Here – Combine with this treat!)

 Under My Hood I Have a Hat

Under My Hood I Have a Hat by Karla Kuskin (Book Activity Here)

Snow

Snow by Cynthia Rylant

The HatThe Mitten 20th Anniversary Edition

Jan Brett’s The Hat…No, The Mitten…Oh, I can’t pick a favorite!  Go with a Jan Brett Author study and check them all out!

Snow Day (Blue Ribbon Book)

And don’t undestimate the value of your informational texts.  My boys love Snow Day by Betsy Maestro.  It’s a book I kind of overlooked, thinking it was boring, but my boys love seeing and hearing about all the machines that clear the way through streets, airports, even harbors on a snowy day.

With all the great literature, don’t forget that information books are great to have in your book area as well. You don’t have to read the whole book, just having the pictures for perusing and maybe reading a page or a sentence or two when a question comes up makes it more than worth the effort.  Having these types of books encourages curiosity and sparks interest in the topic.  It also teaches children that they can find answers to questions by reading books.

The Little Book of Snowflakes

Oooh, and something like this would be perfect in this collection as well!

I know I’ve just scratched the surface of a list that could certainly go on for days!  So comment here, and share your favorite winter themed books with all of us!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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Author Study: Jan Brett

Jan Brett  (Click here to go to Jan Brett’s website.)

Jan Brett is a prolific as an author and illustrator!  Her books are instantly recognizable, with her trademark style of using detail to draw you further into the story, weaving a story-within-a-story as she offers new vantage points in the borders or foreshadows the arrival of a new character.

 I like to do brief author studies with young children, and winter is a perfect theme in which to introduce Jan Brett.  She’s written so many books with snowy backdrops, she even has a Snowy Treasury–  a collection of four favorite snowy stories (The Gingerbread Baby, The Hat, The Mitten, and The Three  Snow Bears), which happen to be the books I would most likely use in this activity.  In addition to that, she has many Christmas-themed books; enough for a Christmas Treasury and more to spare!  Then there’s also Trouble with Trolls and Annie and the Wild Animals set in snowy scenes as well!

My main purpose for doing author studies to support literacy development by (1) teaching what an author/illustrator is, (2) building interest in quality literature through exposure and examination of details, and (3) creating an exercise for recognizing similarities and patterns in an author/illustrator’s work and thereby building connections.

When I introduce Jan Brett, I gather an assortment of her winter-themed books and arrange them for the children to see.  Then I tell them I want to talk to them about someone who is an author and an illustrator.  We talk a bit about what those words mean.  Then I point out that the same person was the author and illustrator of all of the books they see!  You may want to show a picture of Jan Brett and talk a little about her biography (which you can read more about here).  Once we establish the concept of author/illustrator (and of course, talk about how we are also authors and illustrators), we talk about how the books are similar after examining their covers and a few inside pages. With Jan Brett’s books they’re likely to notice (particularly with your expert guidance) that the books have a lot of animals; they have borders; some animals have people clothes on, others don’t; the colors are bold and bright; and there are a lot of little designs and details. 

You may even want to start a list on chart paper with two columns: “same” and “different”.  As you have your discussion, you might write in these columns, noting the similarities and differences between the sample books.  Then, as you explore the books more thoroughly throughout the week or month, the children can add additional observations as they continue to compare and contrast the books.

Of course, after talking about the collection of books, we have to read some!  You don’t want to read them all in one day of course!  But place them in your book area to be examined and explored by the children, and plan some readings throughout the course of a week or month.  Here are a few of my favorites, in “quick fashion” (if only I were capable of such a thing)!

The Hat

Set in a Scandinavian theme, this story tells of Lisa, who is preparing for winter by airing her woolens.  A woolen sock strays, and gets stuck on the prickles of Hedgie the hedgehog.  Embarrassed, Hedgie tells her friends it’s a hat, and soon the whole barnyard has ideas about how to use Lisa’s woolens! 

This is a great book for starting a discussion about getting ready for winter, winter clothes, or how animals prepare for winter (Why don’t they need winter clothes?).  Follow up the reading by sorting summer clothes from winter clothes, or by creating a hedgehog out of playdough and toothpicks.

The Mitten 20th Anniversary Edition

At first appearance, The Mitten may seem to be too similar to The Hat, but they are actually quite different.  First of all, your children may point out during your discussion that one has woodland animals while the other has farm animals.  In the mitten, the main character, Nicky, loses his white mitten in the white snow.  Soon, it becomes a warm spot for a little mouse to nestle….until a succession of larger animals come!  There’s just enough room for all of them as they stretch the mitten’s seams to their full capacity.  The fine stitching holds until one giant sneeze sends them all flying in different directions!  This retelling of a Ukrainian folktale is certainly enchanting! 

Follow up by acting the story out, having your characters “squeeze” into a blanket as the mitten.  You could also play a mitten matching game.  You could also explore the different animal footprints in the snow, shown in the book’s illustrations.  Then go looking for some animal footprints in your own snow!

Gingerbread Baby

This is a fantastic retelling of the Gingerbread Man!  When the oven door is opened too soon, the baby jumps out and runs out the door, taunting an entire village as it runs through the snow.  Only Matti is clever enough to come up with a way to lure the baby back home!  After this story, your little ones are definitely going to want to make some gingerbread people!  You could bake some (just don’t open your oven door too soon!), or cut some from paper and provide ribbon, rick rack, buttons, stickers, yarn, and markers for decorating!

The Three Snow Bears

This Arctic retelling of Goldilocks is clever and exciting, and, once again, the illustrations are detailed and beautiful!  After reading about this Inuit girl who goes wandering in an igloo belonging to a polar bear family, you may want to extend the activity by trying to build an igloo with ice cubes, or experiment with ice floating in your water table (as with the ice floe in the story) and see how many of one object (pennies, toy cars, etc.)  you can place on your ice before it begins to sink!

While reading each story, make connections with the others you have read.  (“This one has a bear too!” “Do you think they’ll wear the mitten like they did in The Hat?” “This border gives you clues just like the last one!”)

Enjoy reading some wonderful wintry stories while getting to know a fabulous children’s author and illustrator, Jan Brett!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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Snow Scene Collage

If you’ve already done a few snowstorm paintings, switch things up a bit and get three-dimensional!  Collect a sampling of random white items to glue onto a snow collage.  Have your children help if you can!  Here are some ideas:  cotton balls, batting, tissue paper, packing peanuts, styrofoam (break it into the tiny balls for realistic snow), white buttons, white tulle, plain old white paper (have the children rip it into pieces for more texture and increased small motor skills), paper with white prints (white on white-ish plaids, stripes, etc.), glitter, salt, white scraps of ribbon or fabric – you notice the theme here, right?  White stuff!  If it can be glued onto paper and it’s white, (and suitable for children of course) it’s perfect!

Prepare the paper as you did in the snowstorm paintings (using colored paper and perhaps a background scene) and then provide an assortment of “whiteness” to be glued on for snow!  (For collage gluing, try this method.)

This process enhances creativity as the children find new uses for “beautiful junk”, and create and express their concept of “snow” through visual media.  The collage aspect increases small motor skills and adds a sensory element with the texture, creating something both visually and tangibly interesting.  So clean out your craft drawers and get all your white “beautiful junk” out on the table!  It’s time for another snowstorm!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by stocker.

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Mitten Match

For those of you implementing a winter theme, consider creating a mitten match!  You could use actual gloves and mittens and have children pair them together, or create a type of memory game like the one I did here.

I made mine out of felt for quick and easy durability.  I gave each set different characteristics, but you can see, for my older children, I made it a bit challenging by making some pairs similar to other pairs.  I thought I had made each set as a matching pair (with one lefty and one righty), but it looks like a lack of sleep caught up with me and some are opposing and some are not.  I can see an argument for either.  If you make each hand you have an actual pair, but if you make them the same hand, you have an identical match.  I ‘ll let you decide for yourself, or just be like me and make them late at night and see how they look in the morning!  

You could easily create a set drawn on cardstock, or cut out of construction paper or scrapbook paper and mounted onto cardstock.  (You’ll probably want to laminate the cards if you make them out of paper.)  Make about 6 pairs for playing memory, though with younger children you may even want to start out with something as simple as 3 pairs.  Or for the most basic level, present three mittens and ask which two are the same and which one is different.

Matching games enhance visual perception– the ability to see and recognize differences.  This ability is what allows a person to recognize that a “b” is in fact different from a “q” or a square from a rectangle, helping with reading and math readiness.  It also helps with observation skills, critical to the scientific process and learning in general.  Playing this as a memory game, of course, strengthens memory skills, a key ingredient in cognition, while also teaching social skills as children take turns.  

Only a nerd like myself could make a fun game of memory sound so complicated!  At least now you’re armed and ready to explain to anyone else, just exactly why playing memory with children is not just cute!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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A Brainstorm of Snowstorm Painting Projects

There are so many fun ways to paint a snowstorm, I couldn’t settle on just one!  So instead, you get my rambling brainstorm of the many ways to paint a snowstorm!  With each method, I like to start them out with a background picture, the scene behind the storm.  I may have them color something with crayons or provide geometric shapes cut out of construction paper for them to glue on to create houses (square+triangle), trees (triangles), or even snowmen (circles).  You could also cut out scenery pictures from travel magazines.  Of course, you can also just paint the snow, particularly with younger children.  For many children, the fun is just in controlling the storm, so the background doesn’t really matter much.  Just be sure to use colored construction paper for each of these methods, so that the snow will show up!  Darker colors like blue, gray, and black show the snow even more dramatically!

Epsom Salt!  Here’s a fantastically scientific way to paint a snowstorm: Make a solution by mixing equal parts boiling water and Epsom salt (found in the pharmacy section of places like Wal-Mart, used for soaking sore tootsies) and stir well.  You want to make sure the salts dissolve into the water.  Use the solution to paint over your paper.  As it dries, the dissolved salt will crystallize again, creating a frosty, snowy look!  If you want a thicker snow paint, create your solution with more salt than water, dissolving as much as possible.  The more salt you add, the thicker and more opaque your dried crystals will be! (As a warning here, make sure the kiddos don’t drink the solution as Epsom salt can also be used as a laxative……..You don’t want that.)

Stipple Paint! Use a stipple brush and white paint to “bounce” snow onto the pictures.  You could also use snowflake or snowman stencils and stipple in the design.

Paint & Glitter! Paint with white paint and then shake iridescent glitter into the wet paint so that it dries with that fabulous sparkly snow look!  (I’ve also tried mixing the glitter into the tempera paint, but the paint was too opaque and you couldn’t see much of the glitter, though it did create a more realistic snowy texture.)

Splatter Paint! First off, you know if the words “splatter” and “paint” are in the title of a preschool activity, you need to get ready with smocks, rags, drop cloths, and perhaps some goggles and rain gear if you have any of those really enthusiastic painters!  Use white paint and toothbrushes to flick or splatter the snowy paint onto the picture.  For a little more splatter control, place the pictures inside a plastic bin and have the children flick with the brush inside the bin.  The edges should cut down on the stray splats.  You can also cover the bin with window screening and have the children brush it with a toothbrush and white paint to create the splatters.  This is a little easier than flicking with fingers for younger children.

Bubble Wrap!  Use that bubble packing wrap leftover from your Christmas treasures and use it to make snow prints.  Cut the wrap in smaller square sections.  You may want to kind of create a handle to hold on to by pulling the corners together and wrapping with a rubber band.  Dip the bubble wrap into white paint and press it onto the paper to print.  The round bubbles creates huge snowflakes or snowballs! 

Add Music!  While creating snowstorm paintings, you may want to add a little music, like Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.  You can listen to the music before your painting project.  Talk about what the music sounds like  and have the children describe the kind of snowstorm they envision.  Challenge them to create the snowstorm they’re picturing in their minds when they hear the music.  Play the music again as they paint!  This type of activity not only enhances music awareness and creativity, but also language skills!

Snowstorm painting is a great way to explore and celebrate the winter season!  It enhances creativity, small motor skills, as well as language and science skills as you talk about their creations and the properties of snow!

For more wintry activities, click here!

Top photo by jasonlemay.

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Amber’s Fresh Snow Ice Cream

On my first giveaway post, I asked readers to comment with their favorite snowy day activities.  Amber posted these instructions for Snow Ice Cream:

one of my favorite winter activities is making snow ice cream! we did this after the first BIG snow every year when i was a kid – it had to be a BIG snow because you don’t want to get pieces of grass or leaves in your ice cream. ( :

SNOW ICE CREAM

*fresh WHITE snow (heehee)

*a bit of vanilla extract

*a gob of half & half (milk will do)

*a smidgen of granulated sugar

*sprinkles (optional)

 instructions: mix the snow with the vanilla, half & half and sugar. put it in a bowl, top with colored sprinkles (it’s just so cute!) and eat it QUICK! ( :”

She definitely piqued my interest, and I just had to try it out with my own boys after our recent snow storm.

I started out by scooping some of the top layer of snow, and then leaving the bowls out to collect more of the snow as it fell.  You can see it was a substantial storm.  My bowls runneth over!  I brought them in and scooped off the tops into another bowl.  Once you start adding ingredients, you lose a lot of height, so you might need more snow to add back in!

I had ingredients waiting at the ready so that we could get right to work.  Following Amber’s instructions, we scooped, stirred, and tasted.

My boys were amazed as the snow seemed to magically turn into ice cream!

They said it tasted just like vanilla ice cream!  They probably would have said more, but their mouths were full.

This was such a fun activity!  It provided all of the developmental opportunities I mentioned earlier in this post about cooking with children, plus it’s a unique science activity in its use of snow as an ingredient.  (It also reminded me a bit of the shave ice you get in Hawaii- you could try that as well!  Shave ice/snow, flavored syrup, drizzled sweetened condensed milk.) 

Thanks so much, Amber!  This was a fantastic activity!

Incidentally, Amber is an AMAZING photographer!  (I shudder to think of the pain it causes her to look at my grossly inferior shots here!) So if you’re lucky enough to be anywhere near the Treasure Valley sometime (that’s around the Oregon/Idaho border, folks), take advantage of this little treasure!  And even if you’re not so lucky to be there in person, check out her inspiring website anyway!  www.amberfischer.com

Now….when is MY next trip to the Treasure Valley?  I think we’ll be in touch, Amber!

For more wintry activities, click here!

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