Ah, winter. That’s definitely what January means here in the northern hemisphere. We even had a couple of snow flurries this morning right here in Indiana, where we thought (hoped?) winter would never come. But even though I hate being cold, I love winter for all its differences from every other season. The stark nakedness of the trees darkening the skyline, the promise of that beautiful hush of snow, when the whole world seems to hold its breath and quiet down to hear the flakes fall… hot chocolate, cozy sweaters, cuddling. The smell of wood smoke. If I haven’t made you fall in love with winter yet, stick around for this amazing Story Time. If anyone can make you love winter (besides me), it’s Jan Brett and her magical stories.
This sweet tale always warms my heart, even in the depths of winter. There are so many activities you can do to go along with it so your littles can have a ton of fun while enjoying the story. Just make sure you cuddle while you read it. You know, to keep you warm.
The animals who share the mitten in the story are all fascinating creatures. Your little might like to imagine more about them. Here’s a free set of worksheets for your littles to use to write the history of each animal. Choose one or write them all–what a fun time with creative writing. And if they don’t know much about each animal, check out the free animal unit study in the science section of this post.
There are so many science adventures you can have with this book. One of the most important things your littles can learn is some basic facts about the animals that cozy up in the mitten. So here’s another free download which includes a paragraph about each animal, a crossword puzzle, and a word search.
Livescience.com gives us this beautiful idea for a cold weather science project that you do can do whether you have snow or not. All you do is blow up a balloon and tie it off (if your littles love balloons as much as Littlest does, they will Love This). Then place it outside in the cold and watch it deflate. Then bring it back inside the warm house and watch it re-inflate. What happens is that the volume of the air decreases in the cold and increases when it warms back up. Nice science lesson!
Ice on a String
This will probably fascinate even your oldest littles. It’s really cool to watch the string freeze to the ice cube while it’s at room temperature.
Set the ice cube on your work surface and allow it to slightly warm up for a couple of minutes. Dip the end of the string in water, shake off the excess, and set the moistened section of string over the ice cube. Make sure the string and the ice cube have good contact with each other. Then, pour table salt over the string and ice cube, being sure to cover the string. Wait about 20-30 seconds and then pick up the other end of the string. The ice cube fully attached!
What’s happening: The table salt reduces the melting point of water and helps to slightly melt the already-warming ice. The temperature from the inside of the ice cube refreezes the water, fusing it to the string. Suddenly you have an ice cube you can take for a walk!
If you head over to Jan Brett’s website and click on the Activities tab, you’ll find bunches of cool stuff to do with your littles to go along with this book. My favorite is the Put the Animals into the Mitten printable. So cute!
We made a salt dough hedgehog craft during our Autumn Camp that you could do with your littles, maybe substituting pine needles or yarn for the autumn leaves we used. In fact, here’s a free downloadable template to make your own hedgehog.
Snow Ice Cream
What you need:
- 1 cup (250 ml) milk
- ⅓ cup (80 ml) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp (5 ml) vanilla extract
- 8 cups (2000 ml) of clean snow
- 1 pinch of salt
What you do:
- First, chill all your ingredients in the fridge so they don’t melt the snow.
- Whisk the milk, vanilla, sugar, and salt together in a large, plastic bowl (to cut down on heat transfer).
- Mix in the snow immediately to desired consistency. Be quick so your snow doesn’t melt. If you’ve done it right, your ice cream should be fluffy goodness.
This might be a new one for you (unless your a huge Little House fan like I am), but it’s a ton of fun and yummy to boot! Snow candy is easy to make. All you need is snow and maple syrup. Or any flavor of syrup, maybe? I don’t know if the viscosity of the syrup would change the outcome. All you have to do is pack a bunch of fresh snow into a pie plate, then heat about a 1/2 cup of syrup to boiling over medium-high heat. Stick a candy thermometer in there and wait till it reaches 235 degrees Fahrenhei (soft-ball stage). Take it off the heat and immediately drizzle it over your snow. Let the syrup cool for a minute or two, then pick it up with your fingers and eat it! Delicious!
I just heard that we have a chance for snow showers this Sunday. Writing this post has really got me looking forward to it. Snow candy?! What diet?