Winter Ways – Background

The ever-changing cycle of seasons is one of the pleasures of living in a temperate climate. From the emergence of tender life in spring and the abundance of summer, to autumnal ripening followed by the long, cold winter, each season has its unique conditions. Survival demands that plants, animals, fungi, and even bacteria are adapted to survive all the seasons, and, for most, winter is the most difficult. This might seem obvious, but the implications are important.

Because of the tilt of the northern hemisphere away from the sun in the winter, we experience shorter days and lower temperatures, often below the freezing point of water. Continue reading Winter Ways – Background

Winter Ways – Activities

FOCUS: Of the four seasons in the year, winter is the most difficult for living things.  Temperatures are often cold, days are shorter, the ground is frozen and covered with snow, and there is a dearth of food for many creatures. Each animal species has evolved a survival strategy, and plants overwinter in different ways as well. The dried seed heads of winter weeds provide a welcome source of food for many animals.

Objective: To begin to explore and ask questions about winter compared to other seasons.

Have children work in small groups, and give each team a large, poster-sized sheet of paper with a 12” circle drawn in the middle. Give each group a set of Winter Ways Seasons cards. Have children look at and discuss the pictures with each other and consider which season(s) their cards depict. Have them place the cards on the circle to show seasonal events that occur over a year. Some pictures could fall in more than one season. (If needed, consult the Seasons Cards Key.) For younger children, you may wish to and mark the four seasons on the circle and give each group a smaller selection of cards.

Materials: for each group: a set of Winter Ways Seasons cards with captions, large, poster-sized piece of paper with a 12” circle drawn in the middle; optional: Seasons Cards Key.

UPPER GRADES CHALLENGE: Antifreeze Tests (Grades 5-6)
Objective: To investigate the effect of different dissolved substances on the freezing of water.

Many animals build up high concentrations of sugars in their cells in preparation for winter. How do dissolved substances affect the way water freezes? How could we test this? Continue reading Winter Ways – Activities

Winter Ways – Puppet Show

It’s Snow Picnic

Characters: Matthew Mouse, Woody Woodchuck, Simone Skunk, Ferdy Fir Tree, Goldy Goldfinch, Heidi Hare.

Props: Sign saying “January 1st,” piece of white fabric to cover stage, dried weed stalk with seed head, cotton balls.

Matthew Mouse  Oh boy! A snowflake in October! Winter’s coming! I should have a party to celebrate winter. I’ll have it in January when there’s plenty of snow. Why, here’s Woody Woodchuck. Hi, Woody.

Woodchuck  Hi, Matthew Mouse. Brrr, it’s cold today! I’m going back in my den!

Mouse  Wait, Woody!  I’m going to have a winter party, in January, and you’re invited. Continue reading Winter Ways – Puppet Show

Winter Ways – Standards


The activities in this unit help children understand the basic concepts in the Disciplinary Core Ideas listed here. You can use the following list as a guide for lesson planning. These Disciplinary Core Ideas are taken from Grade Band Endpoints in A Framework for K-12 Science Education. Additionally, our activities give children opportunities to engage in many of the Science and Engineering Practices and reflect on the Crosscutting Concepts as identified in the Next Generation Science Standards. Continue reading Winter Ways – Standards