Activity Ideas for Winter:
The Mitten is a Ukranian Folktale retold & illustrated by Jan Brett. It is about a boy who drops his mitten in the snow and one at a time the animals crawl in to the mitten with a very climatic & funny finish when the bear sneezes and all of the animals fly out. Jan Brett cleverly uses borders to tell us a story within a story. She thoroughly researches the settings for her books & does a splendid job of illustrating the details of Ukranian life. Watch for the water jug on the fence. Jan Brett said in her research she learned that the Ukranian people leave a water jug on the fence so that people passing by can get a drink of water. There is also a stork's nest on the roof of the cottage which Ukranians put there for good luck!
There are many activities on the janbrett.com website that are fun to do with this book. There are bookmarks you can print out, a coloring page of the animals in the mitten, animal masks and more. You can listen to Jan Brett talk about the writing of her books and send e-mail postcards to your friends.
When you print out the mask, you can glue it to cardboard, punch a hole in each side & use elastic to make a wearable mask. Or just attach it to a straw and let the child hold it up in front of his face to act out the story while you read it.
With younger children you can count how many animals are in the mitten each time. You could also make a game out of it by choosing some stuffed animals and a sleeping bag or blanket and acting out with your child each animal going in to the mitten & counting how many are in the mitten. With older kids you can make up math problems depending on their skill level. If there a 4 in the mitten and 3 more get in, how many are in the mitten? If there are 6 in the mitten and each have 4 paws, how many paws are in the mitten?
Older students can research the animals in the book and record facts about each one. Another activity for older children is for them to make a list of verbs as you read each page. It is a great opportunity to see a good variety of verbs showing action.
Another story about mittens you could read is The Three Little Kittens. There is a math problem based on that story here.
Make a mitten felt ornament.
Five Little Snowmen
Five little snowmen riding on a sled
I'm a Little Snowman (to the tune of "I'm a Little Teapot")
I'm a little snowman
Use your favorite sugar cookie dough or a tube of ready-made cookie dough to make "Snowflake Cookies."
Refrigerate dough until firm (1-2 hours.)
Roll out cookie dough and cut with a star or round cookie cutter. Using a drinking straw, randomly cut holes in each unbaked cookie, removing dough by slightly twisting straw.
Bake according to your cookie recipe. Remove cookies to wire racks to cool. When completely cool, sprinkle with powdered sugar.