11 Winter Activity Ideas for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Students and Classrooms

11 Winter Activity Ideas for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Classrooms

11 Winter Activity Ideas for 3rd, 4th, and 5th Grade Students and Classrooms

Winter provides a unique opportunity in 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade classrooms - a chance to celebrate all things cold.  The winter activity ideas below cover a range of topics and can be used to help you easily spice up your winter lesson plans.  Snowmen, polar bears, penguins, sled dogs, read alouds, snowball fights, and more.

There are winter reading, writing, math, and science ideas for upper elementary.

Fun Ideas for Your Winter Lesson Plans

1. Observe Penguins on a Webcam

Have students practice their observation skills by carefully observing penguin behavior on a penguin webcam.

Before watching the webcam, introduce students to some common penguin behaviors - things like preening, bowing, head-shaking, and tobogganing.  Then, have students record observations of the penguin behavior as they watch a webcam.

Try out one of these penguin webcams:

2. Compare and Contrast Penguins and Polar Bears

Extend your penguin lesson plans by having 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students compare and contrast penguins with another popular winter animal - the polar bear.

The habitat of these two animals is often confused.  Polar bears live in the northern hemisphere near the Arctic Circle, and penguins are almost exclusively found in the southern hemisphere.  Have your students research these two animals and their habitats, and think about similarities and differences between the two animals.

This polar bear and penguin resource contains reading passages, questions, and a fun snowball fight activity to help students compare and contrast these two animals.

You could also watch this video of polar bears in Manitoba, Canada to add to your lesson.

3. Write a Winter Haiku

Have students reflect on the uniqueness of winter by writing a short haiku. This is a perfect way to introduce students to poetry writing, as the 3 line, non-rhyming poem is a lot less intimidating than other, longer forms of poetry.

Not sure where to start?  This No Prep Haiku Resource includes plenty of poems and activities to introduce students to the haiku, as well as scaffolded templates to help students successfully write their own haiku.

Or, check out these haiku children's books, these haiku examples, or these other kid-friendly forms of poetry in your lesson planning.

4. Try This No Prep Snowman Descriptive Writing Activity

This is an engaging winter writing activity for students and teachers alike.  Students stealthily draw a picture of a snowman and then write a short paper describing their snowman.

Hang the snowmen up, and then have students read their descriptions.  If they have included plenty of descriptive details, then their peers will be able to easily figure out which snowmen is theirs!

For a scaffolded version of this activity that will help students use interesting words and descriptive details, check out this No Prep Snowman Descriptive Writing Activity.

a no prep literacy activity for upper elementary students that don't celebrate Christmas

5. Practice Fractions With This Snowman Freebie

What could be better than combining winter, art, fraction review, and free?  Try out this fun freebie that asks students to follow fraction directions in order to create a snowman drawing. 

6. Write a Winter Squiggle Story

If you've never done a squiggle drawing writing activity in your upper elementary classroom, now is the time to try!

It's simple.  Provide students with a page that has a random squiggle on it.  Students use that squiggle to create a winter drawing, and then write about their drawing!

This Squiggle Stories Resource includes  30 image starters as well as 9 different writing prompts so you can utilize Squiggle Drawings in your classroom all year long!

7. Read Brave Irene

Brave Irene is a popular winter story about a courageous (and possibly reckless) young girl that braves a snowstorm so the duchess would get her dress in time.

The author, William Steig, utilizes interesting word choice and figurative language - especially personification.  These questions and activity ideas will help make creating a lesson plan for Brave Irene easy and low stress.

And as an added bonus, Brave Irene is on Storyline Online! 

8. Learn About the Tundra

The tundra is a unique and often overlooked biome.  Use this winter to introduce your students to this unique environment.

This no prep resource about the tundra includes a reading comprehension passage, questions, and an activity to help students learn about the plants and animals that have adapted to living in the tundra, as well as threats to this biome.

9. Have a Paper Snowball Fight

Have all the fun of a snowball fight without all of the cold and wet - and with an educational twist!

Crumple up sheets of paper and let your 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade students throw them at each other in the classroom.  This makes a fun brain break, but it can also be used to review all sorts of different skills.  Check out these tips and ideas!

10. Meet Denali National Park's Sled Dogs

Denali National Park has some useful educational resources...including this video called "The Science of Sled Dogs."

Use the video to take your students on a virtual field trip to Alaska's Denali National Park and  learn about the sled dogs that help rangers take care of it.

The video does a great job of being interactive, asking questions in a kid-friendly way throughout the video.  Some of your older upper elementary students might roll their eyes a few times, but they will be engaged and learning!

11. Winter Read Aloud - Snowmen At Night

Snowmen At Night is a whimsical, rhyming book that makes a great winter read aloud.  In it, a child wonders what happened to his snowman during the night...and then imagines all sorts of crazy things snowmen could be doing.

This book will delight and inspire the imagination of your upper elementary students.  And these questions and activity ideas can help you as you plan your Snowmen At Night lesson.  

Never Stress Over Sub Plans Again!


Make copies, find a fiction book, and you'll be ready for any emergency that comes your way!

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