Winter Animals are all around this time of year-not all animals hibernate in the cold weather! This Theme page is filled with preschool activities and ideas for all areas of your classroom.
Let the Theme planning begin! You can either scroll down through this page to see all of the preschool activities for your this theme or click the link below to go to specific preschool activity types you are looking for.
Black and White Penguin Collage
Materials Needed: Pictures of penguins; black and white scraps of paper; wiggly eyes; small orange triangles (for beaks!); school glue; construction paper to glue collage on.
Encourage the children to tear the black and white scraps of paper to make their own penguin! Some of your children may comment "I can't make a penguin." Oh yes they can! Children are very used to being told, step by step, how to "make" something that they don't have the option to just create and creating, after all, is what art is all about!
Show them the pictures of penguins. Discuss what they look like: Black bodies, white stomachs, eyes, beak, etc.). Tearing the paper is great for their fine motor skills.
VARIATION: If you want to encourage scissor cutting skills, give each child a rectangle shape of black paper (about 8" X 4") and a white rectangle of paper (about 5" X 3").
The teacher takes one piece of the black paper and says "I'm going to make a penguin body. (Get your scissors and start cutting with no specific shape in mind and say) "Cut, cut, cut, cut, cut..." Continue until you've cut out a random shape. Say "That's the body. Now I'm going to make the white belly. (Do the same with a white piece of paper saying) Cut, cut, cut, cut....". Continue until you have a white shape cut out. Glue the white to the black and tell the children "There, I made a penguin! I'm going to give it 2 eyes and a beak...there! Now you make your own penguins! I think all of our penguins will look different!"
This was remarkably successful with our preschoolers! We had tiny, baby penguins, large penguins, etc.! They looked great and the children were quite proud of their artwork!
We like to make clay hedgehogs. The children really enjoy this. The make the shape of hedgehogs, then put eithe small sticks or straws in for spike, leave them over night then paint them brown.
Thank you, Nuala, from Belfast, United Kingdom for submitting this idea!
Materials Needed: Markers; scissor; 2 wiggly eyes for each child; school glue; lots and lots of feathers!
The children should draw and then cut out a large circle for their owls' bodies. They should then draw and cut out a smaller one for the head.
With the markers, the children should draw eyes and a beak for their owl on the smaller circle.
On the large circle, the children will glue on feathers. Let them choose how many, which colors, etc. Don't limit them by saying "Owls are brown and white, or...". This is art--their perception (as opposed to a craft which has, typically, a specific outcome).
Glue the head onto the body and let dry.
EXTENSION: Ask the children about their owls while they are creating them. If you write down what each child says, you could hang their owls and owl stories under their owl on a display wall or bulletin board!
Animal Paw Prints
Materials Needed: Brown finger paint, finger paint paper
How many different types of animal tracks can they come up with? Encourage different ways of finger painting today! They can paint animal tracks by using the outside part of their fists, their fingertips, their knuckles...make lots and lots of animal tracks!
My Many Colored Animal Sun Catcher
Materials Needed: Winter animal shapes (precut on wax paper); variety of colored tissue paper (precut into small squares or other shape you are working on); paintbrushes; white school glue.
Have children choose an animal that you have precut and then cover it with different colors of tissue paper using the glue.
When dry, you can hole punch the top and hang with ribbon from a window. Very pretty!
Winter Animal Homes
You could use either small, plastic animals OR beanie baby animals OR large stuffed animals in your block area. The children can then make homes for them with the blocks or the toy animals can make homes for themselves! This usually provides some great dramatic play in the block area!
Circle Time is such a great time for children to learn the social skills of being together as a large group AND to learn more about your Winter Animal Theme!
Materials Needed: A winter animals puppet!
Introduce the puppet to the children. "Hi everyone! I'd like you to meet my friend___!" Give the children time to introduce themselves or just say "Hi" to each child with your puppet!
Puppet: Shivers a lot and looks around at the children.
You: _______, you're shaking. Are you scared?
Puppet: "No, I'm not scared. I'm FREEZING! Why am I so cold today?
You: Perhaps because of the season it is. Boys and girls, do you remember what season it is, the one that comes after fall?
Puppet: OH! Is it REALLY winter already? That's why it's cold outside! You know, a lot of my friends have to get ready for the cold. Boys and girls, what do you do to get ready for the cold?
Encourage the children for winter clothing answers such as "What do you put on your hands in winter so that they don't get too cold? What else do you wear in winter (coats, scarves, boots, etc.).
Puppet: Those are great ways to stay warm! My animal friends do different things to get ready. Want to know what they do?
Puppet: Let's listen! Our teacher is going to read us a story about winter animals!
Have the puppet sit on your lap, or near you. We sometimes have to put the puppet away at story time if it becomes too much of a distraction! You can tell them that the puppet will be in the library for them to play with later on in the morning!
A great story to follow up this puppet show with is When Winter Comes by Nancy Van Laan. However, any winter animal story will do!
What Am I?
Play this guessing game with the children relating to Winter Animals.
I am small. I am white. I have long ears. I hop. What Am I?
Ask similar questions for each animal that you have talked about this winter.
Cooking with children helps develop their math skills and helps them to learn how to follow directions. It also allows for some great conversation! Ask many questions while cooking with your children to encourage conversation! Be sure to ask specific Winter Animal theme questions while making these fun snacks!
Paw Print Pancakes
Ingredients and Items needed: Pancakes, bananas, syrup, if desired; plastic knives
Have children slice the bananas and place a few slices on the top edge of the pancake--bear paws! You could also spread the pancakes with whipped cream or vanilla yogurt to make it look like a polar bear paw!
Also, if you have the time, make the pancakes with the children! Let them help you to measure the ingredients into a bowl and to help mix it.
Ingredients and Items Needed: Fruit juice, ice cube trays, aluminum foil, craft sticks, small (1/8 cup) measurer.
Have children fill an ice cube tray compartment with fruit juice. I listed a 1/8 cup measurer, but you could also use eye droppers.
Cover the ice cube trays with aluminum foil and gently place a craft stick in the middle of each compartment, through the foil.
Freeze! Enjoy a snack later in the day or the next day!
The Three Bears
Materials Needed: Set up your dramatic play area with 3 place settings (for porridge), three chairs, three small towels (for beds) and, of course, a few versions of the book The Three Bears! 4 children at a time should be in this center to act out the story. They may not act it out, they may just be the bears living in a cave in winter! Go with it!
Snow on My Home
Provide sidewalk chalk, cups of water and black and brown paper.
The children can color with the wet chalk to cover the paper as an animal's den would look after a snowstorm! The appearance of the wet chalk is always exciting to the children!
Follow the Footprints
Materials Needed: Animal footprints made from construction paper; tape
Place the footprints around the room. Tape them to the floor or carpet so they are not slippery.
Have the children follow the footprints by hopping from one to the next.
VARIATIONS: Have the children choose a winter animal name and then move from footprint to footprint the way THAT named animal would move (scurry like a mouse, hop like a rabbit, etc.)
Where are the Animals?
Materials Needed: Enough stuffed animals for each child, large blanket
In advance, hide the animals in the classroom or large play area or outside!
Sit on the blanket with the children and tell them they have to find the winter animals. Tell them that they are only to find ONE animal and then run back to the blanket!
Talk about which animal each child has. Is it a winter animal? Does it hibernate (sleep all winter long)? Does it migrate (go somewhere warm) in winter? Does it stay awake (adapt) in winter?
Let the children then continue with their own hide and seek game or simply play with the stuffed animals!
Parachute--Catch the Animal
Materials Needed: Parachute (or large sheet to use as one) and stuffed animals.
With children holding handles or ends of parachute, show them how to raise the chute from their waist to over their head while all counting together to 4 (1,2,3,4..hold it up a little more---poem to use!).
Then count to 4 slowly as you all lower the chute to your waists. Practice a few more times.
Instruct them to do it again, counting slowly, so you can put toys under the parachute..but they should NOT let go of the parachute.
When done, tell them that when they count to 4 and the chute is up high, you will call one of their names and that person and ONLY that person, should run UNDER the parachute, grab a stuffed animal and come back out. Remind them that they need to do this QUICKLY!
Give each child a turn.
EXTENSION: If time allows, place some of the animals ON the parachute and try to shake them all off!
Book Suggestions for the LibraryAnimals in Winter (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science) by Henrietta Bancroft & Richard G. Van Gelder
Library Wall Winter Animals Theme Decor
Hang pictures of as many animals as you can! Polar Bears, squirrels hamsters, birds, penguins, etc. Don't forget to add environmental pictures too, if you have any, such as snow covered mountains, Alaska, etc.
Materials Needed: Rabbit shapes for the children to trace (best if drawn on cardstock or some other stiffer paper); markers; scissors; a bin of cotton balls, glue; 2 large wiggle eyes for each child; construction paper to trace on.
Encourage the children to trace a rabbit and then cut out their rabbit (as best they can!). Provide glue, 2 wiggle eyes and a bin of cotton balls for them to make their rabbit! So much fine motor development going on with the tracing, cutting and gluing on the cotton balls! This activity also helps them to develop their eye-hand coordination. Add counting skills by asking, "How many cotton balls did it take to cover your rabbit?"
Winter Animal Forest
Materials: Cotton polyfill or batting, small wooden blocks (or other blocks), small toy animals; small plastic trees for a forest theme (or leaves from outside--even better!); small rocks for caves, etc.
Encourage the children to use the blocks and other items to make homes for the animals. Encourage discussions about shapes, sizes, colors, etc. of the blocks and animals.
Winter Animal Matching Game
Materials Needed: Winter Animal Stickers, index cards
In advance, make a pair of each type of winter animal. Laminate for durability. Use this as a matching, memory game.
What Does It Do?
This is a great song that tells what specific behaviors happen in winter!
Sung to the tune of Skip to My Lou
______(name of animal) is getting ready, what does it do? Does it wear boots and hats like you? That's not something a ________ would do! It _____________________ (list what the animal does) in winter!
examples:Turtle--stays warm under mud Bear--takes lots of naps Snake--hides in a hole Deer--grows thick fur Hare--(rabbit)--grows white fur Goose--flies to somewhere warm
Materials Needed: CD Player, music (preferably calm "waltz" type music).
Let the children take off their shoes and "skate" to the music!
If you have only a carpeted area, try this--our preschoolers loved it!--Tape wax paper to their shoes and they can "skate" on the carpet!
Polar Bear Song
Sung to the tune of My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean
A polar bear lives in Alaska.
He never gets cold in a storm!
He swims in icy cold water
His heavy coat keeps him warm.
Warm, warm, warm, warm.
His heavy coat keeps him warm.
Warm, warm, warm, warm.
His heavy coat keeps him warm.
To the tune of Mary Had a Little Lamb:
The penguin has a coat of black, Coat of black, coat of black.
The penguin has a coat of black, Watch her waddle up and back.
The penguin has a body of white, Body of white, body of white.
The penguin has a body of white, Watch her waddle out of sight.
To the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star:
Penguins, penguins having fun,
Waddling in the winter sun.
Waddling fast and waddling slow,
Waddling to and waddling fro.
Penguins, penguins having fun,
Waddling in the winter sun.
Winter Animals Hokey Pokey
Materials Needed: One stuffed animal per child
Use this classic and favorite preschool dance to reinforce direction awareness!
To the tune of the Hokey Pokey!
You put your animal IN, you put your animal OUT, You put your animal IN and you shake it all about! You do the animal pokey and you turn yourself about, That's what it's all about!
Other suggestions: You put your animal UP, you put your animal DOWN You put your animal to the left, you put your animal to the right You put your animal NEXT to a friend, you put your animal next to a friend! etc.
Materials Needed: Add water and ice cubes to your water table. Add a plastic fishing game (you can purchase them at teacher stores or department stores). Add some plastic penguins or polar bears!
Materials Needed: Add lots of cotton balls (and colored pom poms if you wish!); bowls and spoons or tongs.
Encourage the children to "fish" for the snowballs and put them in the bowl!
Of course, if you have actual snow outside, put it in the water table! Provide cups, spoons, and mittens!
An alternative would be to use Insta-snow. This is the coolest material! Click here to see a video of Insta-Snow in action!
Burrows and Tunnels
Dampen the sand in your sand table. Provide small, toy animals that would live in the ground (chipmunks, etc.) and encourage the children to make tunnels in the sand for the animals to run, play and sleep in!
Safe Bird Food
Materials Needed: Store bought refrigerator rolls, bird seed, yarn (or string or ribbon). Have the children make a hole in the middle of the UNCOOKED refrigerator roll. They should then press the roll (both sides) into the birdseed.
Place them on a cookie sheet and bake as directed.
When done, tie a ribbon, string, or piece of yarn through the hole! They've now made a bird feeder that is safe for the birds.
Many activities still call for peanut butter to be used to make bird feeders. We don't use peanut butter or peanuts at all in the classroom for several reasons:
Explore their Homes
Materials Needed: Old nest or bee hive; magnifying glasses; journal and crayon (to encourage children to draw what they see!).
Many preschool teachers have nests and/or inactive beehives they have found or that are given to them. We tend to bring these out for the children to explore in the springtime. However, winter is a GREAT time as well to show them the types of homes the animals live in during winter!
Provide three clear plastic cups: 1 with ice cubes in it, one with crushed ice and one that is completely frozen (from you putting it in the freezer last night!).
Make a chart that has 3 columns. Label the chart Which one will melt first?
At the top of each column, draw a picture of each of the cups. Talk with the children about each of the cups and let them take a guess as to which will melt first!
Encourage them to print their name under the picture of the one they think will melt first.
Check on cups throughout the day.
How do animals keep warm in winter?
Materials Needed: Shallow cup of ice; shortening; paper towels
Have the children stick their finger in the cup of ice and count to 5. Take finger out, how does it feel?
Now, coat a finger from the other hand with shortening. Have them put their finger in the cup of ice and count to 5. Take finger out, how does it feel?
The finger with the shortening will not feel the cold.
Explain that animals use their body fat to keep warm in the winter!
Our Polar Bear Book
Materials Needed: Paper, colored pencils
Following the same idea as Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear by Bill Martin, Jr., encourage the children to draw a picture of what they might see if they were a Polar Bear! Also, encourage them to write their own name on the page.
EXTENSION: After they have drawn their picture, take the time to ask each child to tell you a story about their page! Begin it for them, "Once upon a time there was......." and just write down everything they say! This could become a great classroom book!