Non-fiction Snow Books

Sometimes it is difficult to find good non-fiction books for kids.  These are all packed with information about snow AND have engaging pictures that kids will love.  Even adults will learn something new!  Read one of these books, and then go out in the snow and experience it up close!

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Who Likes the Snow? by Etta Kaner– This book asks questions about snow and then a fold-out flap reveals the answer with a scientific explanation.  Curious kiddos who ask lots of questions will love this book!  I think the illustrations and fold-out flaps make it most suitable for younger readers (preschool- grade 2).

The Story of Snow- The Science of Winter’s Wonder by Mark Cassino with Jon Nelson, Ph.D.- I like this book because it has one sentence in large print on each page and also a small paragraph with further explanation.  You can just read the one sentence for toddlers or preschoolers.   Older elementary kids will appreciate all the extra information.  The beautiful photographs of snow crystals are amazing.  This book can be used with kids of all ages!

It’s Snowing by Gail Gibbons– This book explains how snowflakes are formed, types of precipitation, and snow activities.  I especially like how it references different countries and continents around the world.  It would be great to read with a map or globe nearby.  It also has extra snow facts on the last page.  This is a great reference book for elementary (grades 1-4).

Design a Shirt with Fabric Markers

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Need a last minute valentine t-shirt?  Or a shirt with a certain color on it for “color day” at school?  Or a special shirt for a birthday or any other holiday?  Just grab some fabric markers and an old t-shirt and let your kid do the rest!  They will be so proud to wear a shirt that they made themselves!

  1. Put a piece of cardboard inside the t-shirt, so the markers won’t bleed through.  An unfolded cereal box works nicely for most kid shirts.
  2. If your child is a perfectionist, they might want to draw some trial designs on paper first.  When they are happy with their design, they can copy it onto the shirt.
  3. Hold the t-shirt while they draw so it doesn’t move around so much.
  4. Heat set the t-shirt by ironing the reverse side of the design for 5 minutes or put it in the dryer for 30 minutes on the hottest setting.
  5. If they want to add more later, no problem!  They can fill the whole shirt with pictures, patterns, and words!  Just remember to heat set the t-shirt again before you wash it.

Materials:

  • fabric markers
  • t-shirt
  • cardboard

Time investment: 5 minutes or as long as they want to spend on it

Difficulty:  Babies can do it.  If you let them have markers.  And if they have a flair for design.

Learning with the Olympics

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We’re not a TV-watching family.  In fact, we don’t even have a TV.  We watch shows on our computer.  But for the past few days we have been glued to the Olympics.  With snow piled up on the ground outside, it’s nice to cuddle together under a blanket and watch some TV.  I remember watching when I was little and then practicing figure skating on the linoleum kitchen floor.  Fast forward to Big Sis jumping around the family room showing us her “snowboard moves.”  It makes my heart happy.

And while we are watching, we are learning about..

  • Sports– Being exposed to new sports is a great learning opportunity.  It gives kids background knowledge that will help their reading comprehension.  If they are reading a book where the characters are skiing, but they have no idea how to ski, it will be difficult to understand the book.
  • Sportsmanship–  The athletes reactions to falling down or low scores make good conversation starters about good (or bad) sportsmanship.
  • Geography– Just hearing the names of other countries is increasing kids’ knowledge about the world.  You can take it a step further and look up the countries on a map or globe as you are watching.  Talk about continents.  Compare sizes of countries.  The list goes on and on.
  • Flags– Play a game and point out our country’s flag each time you see it on the screen.  Identify other country’s flags and see if they can remember a few.  Or print out a sheet of flags and play a match game with the ones you see on TV.
  • Math–  There are numbers all over the place!  Younger kids can play “find the numbers” and call out 1-10 when they see it on bibs, scores, etc.  Older kids will be able to understand more about scores and times.  You can talk about place value with tenths of a second.  You can do math problems about how many more points someone needs to be in first.  Or make a table to show the metals from each country and add them up every day.

And then you can extend that learning.  You know, away from the TV.

  • Play a winter sport– Go ice skating.  Try out skiing.
  • Go to the library– Read books about the Olympics, a favorite sport, athlete, or country.
  • Make your own Olympics–  This is a family favorite.  Make up your own events and get the whole family involved.  The events can be board games, video games, obstacle courses, silly tricks, or even chores.
  • Get crafty–  There are lots of Olympics-related crafts on Pinterest. Get out your scissors and glue and get to it!

Sight Word Game- I’m Thinking of a Word

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I call this game “I’m Thinking of a Word.” It’s a quick sight word game to play while you are waiting at a restaurant or office.

  1. Write some words on a piece of paper.  (Of course you could also use homemade sight words or flashcards.)
  2.  Give a clue about one of the words. For example: “My word ends with the letter D.”
  3. See if your child can guess (and read) the word you chose.
  4. Now it is her turn to think of a word and give you a clue!

Some ideas for clues:

  • My word has the letter ‘b’ in it.
  • My word rhymes with…
  • I use my word when I talk about…
  • My word is in the title of….
  • My word has 3 letters.
  • My word means….
  • My word is the opposite of…
  • My word ends with the /t/ sound.
  • My word has 2 tall letters. (tall letters are h, t, k, b, d, l)
  • My word has two vowels.
  • My word has 3 syllables.

It is easy to make this game fit your child’s ability level. You can vary the amount of words you write, the level of difficulty of the words, and the clues you give.  You might play that they have to identify all the words that fit a given clue.  Or just give clues that only fit one word.  Have fun!

Common Core Standards:

kindergarten- first grade: Demonstrate understanding of spoken words, syllables, and sounds (phonemes)

kindergarten- fifth grade: Know and apply grade-level phonics and word analysis skills in decoding words.

Ten Ways to Spend Time with Your Kids

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February is the month of love.  There are so many ways to show your kids that you love them: kisses, food, helping them with homework, and of course telling them every day.  Kids appreciate all of it.  But I think they especially value quality time with their parents.  Those moments together, big or small, are when they make their memories of childhood.

Here are some ways to make some memories with your little ones.  Try them out and see which ones work best for your family!

  1. Date your kid.  It doesn’t matter if it is going to a movie, seeing a monster truck rally, or just getting an ice cream cone together.  Put on the calendar.  Make it a big deal.  It is important to spend time with each kid individually, and that each child gets to date each parent individually.  One-on-one is very different from the group dynamic.
  2. Give them a few minutes every day.  Set a timer for 10 minutes every night and do whatever your child wants you to do…video games, reading, playing Barbies.  They get to decide.  You give them your full attention.  If they are having trouble coming up with ideas (or too young or can’t take turns deciding), write down some games/activities around the house and make an idea jar.
  3. Make something together.  It is quality time and you have a finished product to remember it by.  You can do something as simple as draw a picture with each of you adding things to it or as complicated as a model car kit.
  4. Do chores together.  This is not glamorous, and it might not be super fun, but it is a way to squeeze some extra time together.  I know it is faster to load the dishwasher yourself.  Slow down, let them help, and you might have a great conversation.  Maybe they can even learn something doing dishes and laundry.
  5. Make a calendar of possible activities.  We keep a calendar (Google calendar works great) of possible kid activities.  I make a note of weekly events like library storytime, discount days at indoor playgrounds, etc.  If I hear about a special program at a museum or zoo, I jot it down.   Then each day I have some pre-planned ideas for us to do together.  And if the day comes and we don’t want to do it…no harm, no foul.  It is just a calendar of possibilities.
  6. Interview each other.   Make a video of you interviewing your kid about their favorite color, food, or movie.  It will be a great keepsake to look back on.  Then let your child be the interviewer and ask you the questions!
  7. Take advantage of the commute.  Instead of turning on the radio, talk or play a game together the next time you are in the car.
  8. Try a screen-free day.  No TV, computer, or iPad…and that means you, too!  All that time away from individual screens, means more time spent together.
  9. Cook together.  One night a week, let them choose dinner and then help make it.  As a bonus, kids are usually more willing to try new foods when they help prepare them!
  10. Change the routine.  What if you can’t fit in any extra time?  Switch up the time you already spend with them.  Instead of eating dinner at the table, eat it on the floor as a picnic.  When you are getting ready in the morning, sing everything you say to them.  When you tuck them in, tell them a story instead of reading a book.  It’s not MORE time, but it is different and they will notice.

Learning with Snow Paint

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We saw snow paint on Pinterest and had to try it out.  It is just water with food coloring in a squirt bottle or spray bottle.  We found the squirt bottle works best for little hands.  Although you have more control with the spray bottle (with jet option).

Some ideas to try with snow paint:

  • Let the kids see how colors are made by squirting in a couple drops of yellow and red food coloring to make orange
  • Practice writing numbers or letters
  • See if they can guess the word you write
  • Make a pattern of shapes and ask them to do the next one
  • Practice making different kinds of lines- straight, curvy, dotted, etc.
  • Take turns making a design and then the other person has to recreate it
  • Experiment with different body movements.  Run while painting.  Skip.  Hop.
  • Free draw!

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Art Museum Scavenger Hunt

What can you on a cold day?  Go to a museum!  Hopefully you have a free museum in your area.  If you don’t, try local galleries, college campuses (especially the art department), or even local art displays in malls.  You don’t need to go to a museum for your kids to see some art.

WARNING:  Taking toddlers to a museum is not for the faint of heart.  I’ve found museum outings work best with babies in carriers, toddlers in strollers, or preschoolers and older kids with good self-control.  If they don’t have good self-control….it’s a great opportunity to PRACTICE!  On our last outing I took my two-year-old, who was too big for the stroller (in her opinion) but a little too young to understand museum etiquette (in my opinion).  But we managed.  You can, too.  Just go over a few basic museum rules before you get there.  No touching or running.  Keep it simple.  And then leave if they can’t follow the rules.  Don’t worry.  You’ll be able to stay longer next time.

While my goal with Little Sis (the two-year-old) was just keeping her from licking sculptures, I aimed a little higher with Big Sis (my four-year-old).  We made a museum scavenger hunt before we set off on our adventure.  Some museums have their own pre-made scavenger hunts for kids and you can also find some online printable worksheets on Pinterest.  I liked our DIY version because we could make it up together and tailor it to her age-level.  I came up with categories (shapes, colors, materials, feelings), and she brainstormed the ideas.  She also colored in the color boxes….

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and made a little mistake.  Notice the yellow and green boxes.  No problem.  It was good opportunity to do some problem solving to fix it.

While we walked around the museum, she marked off boxes on her paper. TIP:  Use a pencil to mark off boxes since pens/markers aren’t allowed in most museums.  The scavenger hunt helped her focus on one piece of art long enough to really look at it.  We talked about how we could check off several boxes with one painting.

We chose a few different categories, but you could also focus on only one.  Here are some ideas to make your own museum scavenger hunt:

  • colors
  • shapes
  • types of lines
  • textures
  • materials
  • letters
  • numbers
  • feelings you get when looking at the artwork
  • particular works of art that are in the museum  (look up names/pictures before you go)
  • subject of the artwork- people, animals, houses, etc.

And a few ideas for older elementary kids:

  • painting styles- impressionism, cubism, surrealism, etc.
  • mediums- paint, pastel, pencil, etc.
  • artists
  • time periods
  • country of origin