Winter Teaching Ideas

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Primary Winter Teaching Ideas

Download this collection of winter-themed teaching ideas suitable for young children compiled by Primary Geography Champion Sharon Witt.


25 Winter Teaching Ideas

Bring the snow and ice into your classroom with this selection of geographical teaching ideas suitable for primary and secondary students.

Get in touch if you'd like to share your teaching resources on this page.

1. The wrong kind of snow?

Using local or national newspapers, or online news websites, collate some good news stories about winter weather - it will be easy to find lots of stories about problems caused by the weather, but positive stories will be harder to find.

If you can't find one why not write your own, or better still, do something helpful in your community and then get yourself in the local newspaper!

2. Deep and crisp and even?

This map and associated teaching ideas were developed in 2010

Visit Tom Barrett's #UKSnowDepth map and contribute your own snow depth measurement to the growing list of readings. You will need to be logged in to a Google account to add your location - the instructions are shown on the left hand side of the map.

  • How could you use this resource in the classroom?
  • Where is the deepest/shallowest snow?
  • Can you explain the pattern of depth?
  • How does the depth of snow in your area compare with other areas of the map?


View #UKSnowDepth in a larger map

3. #Snowfilm starter

Start your lesson with a #snowfilm starter: take a film title and make it 'snowy'. For example The Wizard of Oz becomes The Blizzard of Oz! Can you come up with some more?

How about snowy song titles like There's no business like snow business or snowy book titles such as Pride and PrejudICE?

4. Snowball!!

Write a key question in the middle of a piece of paper: e.g. What are the potential problems caused by heavy snow?

Ask students to write down a few ideas on the paper, then screw the paper up into a tight ball.

Shout 'Snowball!' and the students throw the ball to another person, who opens up the paper and then adds a few ideas of their own.

Repeat the process until each page is full of ideas and suggestions before making use of them for a group discussion or further research.

5. Snow missions

Visit the Geography Collective's blog to read about the snow missions they've been creating based around the ideas in the Mission:Explore book and iPhone app.

  • Create an army of mini snow angels from jelly babies
  • Snowball graffitti on a wall: will melt away and no damage. White snow only!
  • Take a picture from the same place at different times in day to create snow timelapse

If you use Twitter, follow the #snowmission hashtag for more details and examples.

6. UK snow from above

This image and teaching ideas were developed in 2010

Which parts of Britain have not had any snow in this amazing satellite image from the University of Dundee? Identify a school that is in this area, and send some pictures and creative writing in the post to their geography department to show them what they're missing.

7. Snow in the desert?

Where is the most unlikely place that you can find that has had some snowfall? Has it ever snowed in the desert?

This would be a good time to remind students of the definition of a desert, which may not be what they were expecting it to be...

8. On the piste

Imagine that the town you live in is going to be developed as a ski resort. Produce a leaflet to attract tourists, using images of the town in the snow, and map out some appropriate ski-runs that skiers could use.

  • Where would you put the ski-lifts?
  • What would be the après-ski attractions?
  • What benefits and issues would the development have on the town?

9. Snow maps

Go out with a group of students onto the school field and have a map drawing competition in the fresh snow. Who can draw the most accurate map of a chosen location?

You might want to let the students look at the place that you've chosen first in an atlas, so that it becomes a 'maps from memory' style exercise.

Alternatively, draw one huge map that could be seen from space...

10. Extreme temperatures

What happens when the temperature drops to -30 or -40 degrees celsius?

Visit this BBC News page where the reporter talks about surviving in the extreme weather.

Imagine living in the place shown on the video:

  • What activities that you take for granted would you no longer be able to do?
  • What opportunities would it provide for you?
  • How do you think you would cope with life in such an extreme place?

11. Winter Wordles

Make a wordle from newspaper headlines. Visit the Sky News website and click the link on the toolbar to see all the newspaper front pages, then visit Wordle or Tagxedo and make a 'word cloud'.

Use this to stimulate discussion about the coverage of weather events in the media.

You could also consider signing up for the BBC School Report Project where your students become reporters and could potentially be invited to the BBC Newsroom.

12. Winter poems

Read a snowy poem aloud, and ask the students to produce a drawing / map  / doodle of the landscape that is being described.

Students could also be asked to write their own winter poems. Here is a good example of poems produced by students at Micklands Primary School in Reading during the last heavy snowfall in January 2010.

13. What happens to snow after it lands?

Produce a flow-chart or other diagram to explain the various processes that will work on a snow patch until it eventually disappears. What processes will change / remove the snow?

14. Climate change

Will snow become a thing of the past if climate change leads to the expected warming of the globe?

What would a world without snow be like?

15. Real or artificial Christmas trees: which are 'greener'?

Real Christmas trees are one of the joys of the season (although you still find the needles sticking in your socks in July...). Are they more or less environmentally responsible than buying an artificial tree that can last for years but which is made from plastic?

A Canadian study concluded that the distance that people travel to buy their tree is one of the key factors in determining the overall impact on the environment. The full report runs to over 90 pages and is available as a PDF from the Ellipsos website.

Read this Guardian article 'Is it Ok... to get a Christmas tree?' (06.12.05) and then use Helen Nurton's classic mystery activity to explore the issue further.

16. Snow globe

Use an online gazetteer or atlas to identify (and create a Google map of) places with a wintery / festive feel to them. You can use a suitable symbol for your placemarks by clicking on the default symbol and changing it to a snowflake.

A good example is Cold Christmas Lane in Hertfordshire as shown below:

17. HouseBling

Take a walk down your street with Google Street View, then bling your house without spending a penny at Shelter's HouseBling website.

Please note that you will need Firefox or Internet Explorer for this site to work properly - ironically it doesn't work with Google Chrome.

18. Debating topic

Should Christmas lights be banned to reduce their potential impact on global warming?

19. When the ice melts into water...

When the snow on the ground begins to thaw, it will release large volumes of water. How much water is there in a cubic metre block of snow? Use some measurements to estimate the amount of snow that is lying in a particular area of the school campus, and work out how much water will be produced when it melts.

Try and find examples of when melting snow caused flooding in the past.

20. Audio Slideshow

Watch this BBC Audio Slideshow of the recent wintry weather and challenge the students to make their own using Movie Maker or similar software / website. You could perhaps have a competition with a small prize for the best example...

21. Silly stories

Can you find a sillier snow story than this one?

22. Track Santa

Visit the NORAD Santa Tracker website on Christmas Eve, and track Santa as he travels around the globe.

23. Map Santa's Route

Give your students a political map of Europe, and label the countries. They have to plan a route for Santa Claus, starting in Iceland. He has to visit all the countries without visiting the same country twice and without the route crossing, and finish up back in Iceland in time for a cup of cocoa and bed!

24. Christmas is from China...

Read this Guardian article 'How world's biggest ship is delivering our Christmas - all the way from China' (30.10.06), and watch the related short movie 'Christmas: Made in China'.

Is your Christmas coming from China? Do an audit of the gifts you've bought so far...

25. Annotated Christmas cards

Why not try to get an annotated Christmas Card from each student.

Instead of just a picture of the Three Wise Men, get them to annotate their cards with appropriate physical or human geographical connections. They can do this over Christmas and bring it back.

Ideas of things to label:

  • Landscape features
  • People: forced migration
  • Weather conditions & precipitation types

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GA Member

I hope that you're finding these ideas useful. Please feel free to add your own here. As the second wave of snow begins to arrive, and wintery weather through into 2011, there's still plenty of time to make use of them.

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