Integrated Curriculum for Three to Five Year Olds
When the temperature drops and snowflakes fly, it’s a great opportunity to take advantage of preschoolers’ natural interest in winter weather by weaving ice and snow themes into the lesson plans. These ideas incorporate science, literature, and social studies content standards.
Children Explore Ice and Snow Indoors and Out
Small groups of children can fill containers part way with water, marking the water level on the side, then place the water outside in freezing temperatures. Later, they can check the containers and discover what has happened. Discussion follows the observation that the ice reaches ab
ove the water level they marked. When the containers are brought inside, and the water melts, additional discussion follows. Bringing snow inside, measuring the quantity by volume and by weight, then allowing it to melt and measuring the resulting water will yield more questions and comments. Teachers can record the experiments with photographs, along with writing down children’s questions and observations. These activities engage children in doing scientific enquiry, exploring the nature of science through conversation, and examining the nature of matter.
Use Books with Ice and Snow Themes for Language Lessons
Wonderful children’ books with ice and snow themes are available. Ice Cream Bear, by Jez Alborough, (Candlewick Press, 1996), The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, by Shirley Netzel, (HarperTrophy, 1994), Snow, by P.D. Eastman, (Random House, 1962), and The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats, (Puffin, 1976) are excellent choices. Each of these books features engaging illustrations and topics presented in ways that keep the attention of young children. Snow is appropriate for use with beginning readers, as is the repetitive, rhyming vocabulary of The Jacket I Wear in the Snow. For very young preschoolers, Jan Brett’s beautifully illustrated story, The Mitten, (Putnam Juvenile, 1996), is also available in a board book version.
Preschool Social Studies for Winter Weather
Young children are developing the ability to imagine the lives of other people in other places. Help enlarge their concept of the world by introducing the concept of differing climates in different parts of the world. Using a globe or world map, teachers show the children where their school is located. Then, they help children locate cities in the opposite hemisphere, near the earth’s poles, or near the equator. Of course, teachers will choose different places depending upon the part of the world they are in. Using the classroom computer, teachers can show children how to find out what the current temperature is in the selected cities. If no computer is available in the classroom, children can be assigned cities to research with their families’ help, or teachers can do the research and bring the information to class the next day. The temperature differences can be illustrated by placing pieces of tape or sticky notes marked with the current temperatures on the globe or a world map. Teachers can lead discussion about what the class thinks children might be doing in these other places. A fun song to use with this lesson is “Christmas Where the Gum Trees Grow,” recorded by Greg Doolan, Susan McRae, and Ross Bogart , The Australian Christmas Album, (MRA Entertainment / IODA, 2007).
Ice and Snow Themes Invite Preschoolers to Explore, Discuss, and Observe
The natural environment stimulates children’s interest in the nature of matter and the ways in which people relate to changes in the environment. Teachers can encourage children to develop this interest into learning about science, language, and social studies.