Teaching before winter break is hard.
This year is especially hard. It’s cold outside, festivities are likely cancelled or drastically changed due to COVID, and we seem to be squeezing in every assessment possible in the last few days of school. I’m determined to have fun (and learn!) with my students this winter, even if it might be different than usual. Here are three activities that support sensory play and fine motor we are loving!
Snowmen at Night
We read the book Snowmen at Night and created our very own snowmen! The book explores what snowmen do at night. We extended the activity by having students show what they thought snowmen did at night in their very own snowman scene! Students cut out a snowman with white paper and added a hat where they wrote what they thought snowmen do at night. They could decorate the snowmen however they wished and add accessories to show what they do at night. Then, students then glued the snowman to blue paper and created a winter scene using white paint. You could even make “snow paint” with shaving cream and paint if you wanted a puffy snow look!
Make a Huge Gingerbread House
For this, simply cut out a large square and triangle piece of brown bulletin board paper. Have your students decide what type of ‘candy’ to decorate with. My students chose gumdrops and candy canes! We all pitched in to make each type of candy. Students cut out the gumdrops and helped determine the order they went in. Next, we made the candy canes using squares of red and white paper. Finally, the students painted the windows, using white paint on blue construction paper. When they were finished making the house, they each made a gingerbread man to go with it! The drips of ‘icing’ are just white paper cut and glued on. I was so proud of my students for all of their cutting, gluing and painting practice!
To make Snow Dough, add equal parts corn starch and thick hair conditioner. Mix well with a spoon until crumbly. Next, knead the dough with your hands until smooth. To make this safe for COVID, make sure each student has their own dough and mixing bowls and utensils. Make sure to check ingredients to make sure all students are able to participate and there are no allergies.
Use the dough to build snowmen! Give each student a tray to play on and provide googly eyes and black and orange pipe cleaners. Have students create their own snowmen with the dough.
Tip: Pick your conditioner carefully! Pick one that’s too thin and you’ll need to add a lot more corn starch. Pick one that is a smell you don’t like and you’ll be stuck smelling it all day after you knead the dough!
Squeezing some fine motor practice in never hurts, especially when you can pair it with sensory play and fun activities!