Warm Up with Winter Writing
Try these cool writing lesson ideas that promote creativity and increase vocabulary.
By Christen Amico
Whether it be the long winter break or all the festivities during the cold months, the winter season is a great time to sharpen those pencils and crack open the journals. Motivate your writers by offering them creative writing prompts and some helpful tips.
Imagine Winter Escapades
Use the winter weather to make up silly snowmen stories and to practice using descriptive, detailed language. Utilize the five senses to create a clear and interesting story. Here are some fun creative writing prompts that will get even the most reluctant learners interested in writing:
- What would you do if you were a snowman and only had 24 hours before you melted?
- If I lived in a snow globe, I would____________.
- If you were a snowflake and could drift anywhere you wanted, where would you go and why?
- Would you rather be a penguin or a polar bear? Why?
- One day, Frosty the Snowman walked into our classroom and said, __________.
- Cut out the photographs from old calendars and make up a creative fiction story to accompany it.
Enhance Winter Vocabulary
Winter is a great season for expanding vocabulary, especially for those who live in predominately warm climates. Basic words like scarf, mittens, snowball, or sled might need to be explicitly taught to young children who do not encounter these items in their everyday life. Bringing in real items can help writers become more creative and develop a better understanding of winter vocabulary. Here are some winter-themed phonics and vocabulary lesson ideas:
- Synonym Snowflake: Cut out a large snowflake and write one word in the middle. Have students think of synonyms and write them on the outer parts.
- Write one large winter word (such as December or snowman) on a piece of graph paper that has very large squares. Cut out each letter and have pupils rearrange them to make new words. See how many small words can be made from one large word.
- Snow What? List as many words as possible that begin with the word snow. (Examples include snowman, snowplow, snowflake etc…)
- Winter Dictionary: Create a dictionary of only winter vocabulary words. Write definitions, put them in alphabetical order and draw pictures to accompany each word.
Elicit Non-Fiction Writing with Winter Research
The cold months are a great time to research scientific topics related to the cold weather. For instance, investigate artic animals, climate change, or phases of the moon. Take this special time of year to learn more about the natural world. Here are some non-fiction research questions that can get kids thinking and writing:
- What causes the seasons to change?
- Can a polar bear survive in California? Why or why not?
- How is it possible that it can snow in one city and be sunny in another on the same day?
- Where does the rain or snow come from?
- How is sleet different from hail? How are they the same?
- What adaptations do animals have to stay warm? How do people adapt to cold weather?
- What is hibernation and why is it important?
Winter Holidays Inspire Personal Narratives
The winter months bring a variety of holidays. Holiday traditions provide great opportunities to work on writing personal narratives and expository texts. Children can retell holiday events or describe the meaning behind particular holiday symbols. Here are some activities to help build writing skills while connecting with social and cultural concepts:
- Interview one of the oldest members of your family and ask him/her about a holiday tradition that they enjoyed while they were growing up.
- Compare and contrast a holiday that you celebrate with one that you do not celebrate.
- The worst part about (a particular holiday) is ____________.
Winter Learning Extensions
With all the great technology that is now available, writing doesn’t just mean pencil and paper. Take it off the page by creating a PowerPoint presentation, personal blog, or Reader’s Theater. Children in one climate can FaceTime or pen pal children across the country and learn about how different regions experience different weather during the same season. Moreover, young writers can express their ideas through poetry or song writing rather than traditional prose. Teachers can compile a set of writing samples into a class book or post pictures on the class website for others to read.
Use this website to gather lots of ideas and templates for writing an old fashioned letter. Encourage children to write to other children in different countries or to a family member.
Here is a great template for engaging writers in a detailed and descriptive creative writing piece. This is developed for upper graders, but could easily be adapted for youngsters.
Emergent readers and writers can use these winter picture cards to segment sounds and identify syllables. These pictures can also be used for English Language Learners who may not be familiar with winter vocabulary words.
Teachers can print out these pre-made writing templates complete with a prompt, lines, and pictures to color. These templates can be used for a wide range of learners.