Winter is a special time in the classroom. We are beginning to see the fruits of our hard work and holiday goodness is in full tilt. As teachers, we have the chance to embrace the season and give our students some hands-on opportunities to create. While I’m definitely not a craft-based classroom, here are some of my go-to Winter Art Projects for the season!
When Do You Have Time?
Our day is jam-packed with learning. From morning tubs to reflection at the end of the day, it seems like our day is a race! So, when I want to do special activities, I have to carefully craft opportunities to do them.
- Indoor Recess – When we do crafts and activities during indoor recess, it’s always a choice. Sometimes only half of students will want to do an activity and that’s okay!
- Play Centers – My kindergarten friends visit play centers for 10-15 minutes each day. Most days they have choice between kitchen, playdoh, board games, etc but 1-2 times a month, I’ll plan something special for that play time. In December, my kinder friends represented numbers in different ways with their Number Trees.
- Sharpen the Saw – Once a month, my school has Sharpen the Saw clubs the last 40 minutes of the day. Teachers pair up to offer a class that suits their talents and interests. Mrs. R and I teach a watercolor class. We have 26 students (from Kindergarten to 3rd grade) in our class. Each month we focus on a different skills or topic. This month, our focus was warm vs. color colors while we made Winter Landscapes.
- LEAD Slip Rewards – We are a PBIS school. Goal setting and practicing procedures in common areas is a priority for our classrooms. Teachers and staff carry around LEAD (Loyal, Educated, Accountable, Determined) Slips around with them. When a class is exhibiting any of these behaviors, we earn a LEAD slip to display on our door. When we have 30 LEAD Slips we can celebrate with a 20-30 minute activity. I’ve shared some of our favorite, non-food rewards here and this month we chose a Rudolph Directed Draw!
- Sometimes It’s Just for Fun – Let’s be honest. Sometimes it’s a special time of year, students have been working especially hard, or you just need to make parent gifts! In those cases, we will skip our number talk for the day and bump everything up by 15 minutes. Then, taking our now extended Theme time, we have a few minutes to celebrate. This isn’t often, but when it happens, it’s a blast and a great reminder that my friends are 6!
Winter Landscape Watercolors
These Winter Tree Watercolors from Art Projects for Kids were the perfect way to introduce warm and cool colors to my Watercolor Class. We talked about the different feelings colors can give us and what colors ‘fit’ Winter best. Then, we went step-by-step (like a directed draw) to add snowy hills, triangle trees, rectangle tree bases, and then, snowflakes made with white crayon. Once finished drawing, students traced their pencil marks with a black permanent marker, and started painting. 35 minutes later and we had masterpieces!
Reindeer Directed Draw
Using directions from Busy Kids Happy Mom, our class celebrated 30 LEAD Slips with a Reindeer Directed Draw. It was a simple, fun, and adorable holiday art project!
Last year, my 1st graders rocked out these Snowmen Watercolor paintings. They were so simple but made an adorable bulletin board that could stay up for January and February. Check the tutorial in this blog post.
Inspired by Amy Groesbeck’s Division Trees, my kindergarten friends practiced representing numbers in different ways. Every student was given a just-right number (between 5 and 19) and asked to show the number in 6 different ways. From ten frames to tally marks to finger patterns, it was neat to see what ways my friends were comfortable showing numbers.
Scrapbook Ornament Trees (Parent Gifts)
Forgoing the drip-paint ornaments this year, we did a series of ornaments for our parent gifts. My favorite of all the ornaments were these simple scrapbook Christmas trees. I cut lots of different scrapbook papers ½ in wide in different lengths. I placed the different lengths in bowls and students chose 8 different lengths.
Then, students used glue stick to attach them to a large popsicle stick (starting at the top so there is room for the tree trunk). A parent volunteer had hot-glued red ribbon to the back of each stick the day before, so the ornaments were ready to hang.
Drip Paint Ornaments (Parent Gifts)
My first two years in 1st grade, we made these beautiful drip-paint ornaments. Conquering them over the course of 3 indoor-recess periods (8 kids at a time) made the project manageable, and the results always wow! My first graders are so proud of their beautiful creations and families have an ornament that is tree-worthy! See our process here.
These are some of my favorite, simple holiday projects. From parent gifts to celebrating success, December and January are the perfect months to channel the goodness of the season!