Here are some winter safety activities for kids that are designed for parents and teachers of preschool and elementary school-age children. These curriculum activities are intended to compliment your safety education and help you teach important winter safety concepts. So be sure to read the winter safety information contained in our child safety area.
Winter Emergency Planning (All Ages)
Tell kids to imagine they were putting together a winter safety kit for their car filled with things they might want in an emergency if they ever found themselves stranded on the road on a cold winter night. What things would they pack? Have kids create a lists of items to go into the safety kit, and them rank them in terms of what they feel is most important.
Frozen Ponds (Science; Grades K-6)
Gather either a shallow cardboard box or an old cake tray you no longer need. Or just trim down a cardboard box so you have something about 3 to 4 inches high and a foot or so in diameter. (Ideally you want as much surface area as possible, but it also has to be able to fit inside your freezer.)
Mix up some plaster of Paris. and sculpt it on the inside of the box so that it forms a bowl shape like an empty lake. (You may want to lay down some paper mache paste first as a filler to shape your mold so you don’t need to use so much plaster.) Try to contour the inside of your lake so that there’s variable slopes; an area where gradual, and other areas of sudden drop off. You might even contour the bottom with a couple of ridges or elevated areas. Once you have your lake mold sculpted, give it a day to dry. Fill your mold with water, wrap a towel or thick cloth around the bottom. (To simulate the ground so that when it freezes it does so from the top down). then place it in the freezer. Check it with your kids every 20 to 30 minutes to see how it is freezing. Is it starting to freeze around the edges? Are the shallow ends freezing faster than the deep areas of the lake? Then place it back into the freezer and allow it to ice over more.
Once the surface of the water is solidly frozen over (just don’t wait too long and allow it to freeze into a solid block!), take it out and set it on a table and let kids test the ice by pressing toothpicks into it at various spots. Does the ice break when they do so? Can they press their toothpick in farther in some areas than others? Now get a hair dryer and hold it above your miniature frozen lake at a certain angle to represent the sun. How does this change the composition of the ice as it melts?
The point of this science experiment is to teach kids that frozen bodies of water freeze and thaw in unique and non-uniform ways. Just because the ice is thick near the edges of a lake, that doesn’t mean it’s just as thick out in the middle, or in an areas that gets sunlight. Use this to start a discussion about why they should never walk across the ice of frozen pond or lake unless adults have tested it first and shown it to be safe.
Dressing Up for Winter (Dramatic Play)
Bring in a variety of snow related items, such as scarves, hats, coats, boots, long underwear, exc. Set the items out in your dramatic play area, and let the children have fun seeing how dressed up they can get for the cold weather.
Ice Experiment (Science-group)
Fill up some baking trays or large angled bowls with water and stick them into the freezer, however, don’t freeze them completely. This experiment will vary depending on freezer, but an average time of about 1.5 hours should freeze it just enough. You want to freeze the top layer but not all the way through so that there is water underneath. Bring the tray out, and gather the children around it. Use this demonstration to talk about the ice in lakes, and why it is important to stay off of them unless a professional has tested the ice. The tray should freeze so that certain area’s of the ice, particularly along the edges, are more frozen than in the middle. Use a toothpick to test the ice in different area’s.
Snowy Day (Sensory)
Get out some play people at one of your tables along with some shaving cream. Squirt some shaving cream out at the table, and have the children play with the play people in it pretending that it is a snowy day. Use the time to talk about winter safety.
Slippery Roads (Science-Sensory)
Make trays of ice by putting a small amount of water onto several larger trays and then sticking it in the freezer. When it’s center time, get the ice out and set it on one of your classroom tables, or out in the block area. Provide the children with some toy cars, and have them play driving them on the sheets of ice.
Mitten Decorating (Art)
Cut out mitten shapes from construction paper. Have children decorate them with a variety of art materials, such as markers, crayons, paint, glitter, sequins, or other art materials. Use the time to talk about all the things they wear to keep from getting frostbite in the cold. When they are done, You can use yarn to attach the mittens together.