There is something magical about winter. Possibly to do with a fat, jolly man preparing to squash himself down chimneys and into windows – it’s true – but there’s nothing quite like curling up with your kids under a fluffy blanket with a cup of hot chocolate and a fabulous story as the cold rages outside. And what about an adventure to see the Christmas lights and listen to carollers? Winter certainly is special.
We always enjoy learning about the winter season at St. Andrew’s Montessori, and the children are particularly fond of the winter themed activities that we plan around the cold weather.
When it comes to learning about seasons Montessori-style, we are cognisant of the fact that time concepts are difficult for children to grasp – the names, sequence and months that coincide with spring, summer, autumn and winter. The way we introduce these complicate concepts is to link seasons to things that the children relate to; when it comes to winter, we’ll talk about the cold and the fact that we’re wearing coats and that it will be Christmas soon.
In spite of the cold, we believe that it’s important for our children to enjoy the season outdoors, with winter-themed nature walks; collecting pinecones and sticks, and noticing how the natural environment appears when the weather is very cold (trees and plants are bare, water may be frozen and perhaps there might even be snow).
Another way to help children tune in to the season is to use typically winter themes – winter (or festive) food, cold weather animals (polar bears, penguins etc.) and things like snowmen and snowflakes, Christmas trees, even – in all of the activities that happen on a daily basis in a Montessori environment, whether it’s practical life or language and mathematics. This inclusive learning approach fosters understanding essential to an integrated, comprehensive understanding of the world.
One of our favourite winter activities at St. Andrew’s ties in with the continents. We get a huge tray and fill it with different sizes of ice that the children have brought in from home. We fill it with water and add penguins, polar bears, whales and other animals, and spend time talking about their habitat and lifestyle. We also sprinkle in salt to discuss how this can lower the temperature. For more ‘winter activities’ that you could do with your child at home, follow the link to this Pinterest page, which has some really fun ideas!