6 Engaging Winter Literacy Activities for Upper Elementary

Teaching during frigid winter days can be challenging! The cold weather makes everyone want to stay home. These 6 engaging winter literacy activities for upper elementary students will help you and your students beat the winter blues! There’s also a fun bonus idea at the end. πŸ˜‰

PLUS–you can grab a FREE Snowman game activity to use with any set of task cards in your classroom.

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General Winter Activities for Upper Elementary Students

Each year I find more interesting winter activities for my students that make teaching and learning fun for all of us.

Here are a few FREE general winter-themed classroom ideas that are low-prep to implement in your classroom now:

  • Play YouTube videos of a fireplace burning to mimic the sound and feel of sitting cozy by a fire.

    Of course it’s not the same as sitting by a real fire during winter, but my kids love the crackling sounds while we’re having independent reading time. πŸ™‚

  • Review your learning with “Snowball Paper Fights.” There are several different versions of this review game.

    Find the one that best fits your students’ behavior and learning styles.
  • Watch Free Brain Pop Jr. videos on winter holidays, winter animals, or important figures whose birthdays are during winter months.

These general ideas can be used for different subject areas or events in your classroom.

Each of the 6 ideas presented below will detail engaging winter literacy activities for upper elementary that can be used for literacy and ELA instruction.

1- Use Winter Reading Challenges

By this time of the school year, I need fresh ideas to get my students reading consistently.

However, the main issue is that traditional reading logs and charts aren’t motivating or effective to keep students reading.

Click HERE or click the image to learn more about Winter Reading Bookmarks

One way I keep my kiddos motivated to read is to ditch those reading logs and use Reading Challenges in the form of bookmarks.

Each bookmark has 5 reading ideas or “challenges” for students to complete. Every time they finish one of the ideas, they color in that section of the bookmark.

Why I LOVE ❀️ Using These Winter Literacy Activities with Upper Elementary Students

Now, if you think just coloring some bookmarks won’t motivate your students to read more, think again!

It is so encouraging to see students carefully skimming their bookmark challenges, then applying it to earn their reading awards. πŸ™ŒπŸΎ

These reading challenges also help prevent students from saying things like:

  • “There’s nothing for me to read.”
  • “I can’t find anything else to read.”
  • “My Reading log is at home somewhere.”

Plus, these bookmarks are such low teacher prep. When students complete the challenge, they get a reading certificate as a reward.

The reading certificates in this resource are FULLY EDITABLE and can be found in the shop.

This is such an easy winter classroom activity for big kids to complete!

2- Include Winter Writing Activities for Upper Elementary Students

One of my favorite things about winter is that it yields some really clever ways to get your students writing more. ✍🏾

For instance, my students complete a winter writing activity called Cold Hands, Warm Hearts during our writing / literacy centers.

winter bulletin board writing
This bulletin board set is a fun interactive writing activity for winter!

My kiddos are challenged to write thoughtful responses to prompts like:

  • Ways to “Warm Up” Our Class…
  • My Favorite Winter Activity Is…
  • It Takes “Heart” To…
  • Something I Love About Winter Is…

winter writing activities

Easy Ways to Extend This Winter Writing Activity

Even though this is a cute craft for winter, it’s also an easy way to dive deeper into social-emotional connection with students.

Once they write their responses on mittens and hearts, which are collected on our bulletin board throughout the month, we use these to kick off important conversations.

It’s really touching when students dig deeper in their thinking for responses like:

  • It takes heart to admit when you’re wrong and say you’re sorry.
  • My favorite winter activity is learning about leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • One way to warm up our class is to put others before yourself and always be kind.

When time permits, we turn these writing prompts into our morning meeting class discussions or our end-of-the-day free time talk.

3- Try the “If I Lived in a Snow Globe…” Winter Bulletin Board

In addition to our Cold Hands, Warm Hearts bulletin board writing, we also complete a fun creative writing bulletin board called “If I Lived in a Snow Globe…”

Students get great laughs out of this winter writing activity every year. πŸ˜†

winter literacy activities for upper elementary
This fun winter bulletin board resource will be a hit in your classroom and school.

My kiddos bundle up in their coats, hats, gloves, etc. while we’re still in the classroom.

I take pictures of them doing the activities they would be doing if they lived in a snow globe. Students cut the outline of their body out to glue on a background sheet to make their “snow globes.”

Then I buy small clear plates from The Dollar Tree that allow their snow globe writing template to look like an actual globe and I hot-glue it to the bulletin board or on thick card stock.

Since I always use fabric backgrounds on my boards, the hot glue doesn’t damage anything.

winter literacy activities for upper elementary

It always amazes me how creative my students can be with this writing prompt.

Plus, other classes walking through the halls love stopping to read what students have written about their snow globe adventures! β˜ƒοΈ

4- Have Indoor Recess with Kahoot During Winter

Another way I sneak in more winter literacy activities for my upper elementary students is through our indoor recess games!

Our favorite winter indoor activity is Kahoot.

My kids never complain about playing ELA review games for indoor recess when we use Kahoot. If you haven’t had a chance to try it, you gotta see it in action to believe me.

There are tons of ELA and Grammar lessons already available for free on the site. I match them with our state standards so that students not only have fun, but are also getting the academic practice they need.

More Indoor Recess Ideas for Winter Learning

Even though Kahoot offers tons of fun, it’s not the only thing you can do during indoor winter learning.

You bet it’s bound to happen! Frigid temperatures might mean no recess outside. So, what else can you do with all those wiggly bodies inside your class?


Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with fun and simple indoor recess activities that are a breeze for any teacher! Keep your cool and make your students smile with these ideas.

And guess what? Once you visit the post, you can also snag FREE customizable indoor recess choice boards to add a sprinkle of sweetness to those indoor days!

5- Pull Out Those Read-Alouds for Winter Reading Centers

As a Language Arts teacher for 4th graders, two things I absolutely adore are literacy centers and read alouds.

So I always include read aloud activities in my winter lesson plans for literacy rotations.

These picture and chapter books can also be combined with other subject areas for things like:

  • Winter STEM projects
  • Math lessons related to Winter
  • Hands-On Winter Science lessons

Here’s a full list of my favorite winter read aloud books for upper elementary students (click the image for the list):


6- Engage Students with this Synonym Snowman Activity

Another hands-on literacy center that works great for upper elementary students is matching synonyms to build snowmen!

Tactile and kinesthetic learners thrive with interactive activities that allow them to manipulate objects while learning.

So I allow students to spread the snowman body parts on the floor OR on their desks while they work in small groups to match each synonym.

I also have a Google Forms version of this activity that works for distance learning or technology centers in the classroom.

This quick video shows snapshots of different ways this resource works:

You can see more details about these task cards by CLICKING HERE.

Then we flip the activity into a SCOOT game to write antonyms for each snowman synonym.

This is a definite win-win activity for winter fun!

BONUS: Have a BLAST with Classmate Scavenger Hunts

Once students return from Winter break, they want to talk–talk–talk!

The long holiday break causes them to really miss each other.

Instead of fighting against their chattiness, I look for winter-themed classroom activities that actually encourage them to talk!

That way, at least their talking is on subject with the classroom activity.

Classmate scavenger hunts are my favorite way to get them talking, moving, and building classroom community at the same time!

Not only do we have a blast with our winter scavenger hunts, but we also complete this activity for other seasons like:

  • Back-to-School
  • Get to Know You–Community Building
  • Spring Break
  • Valentine’s Day (EXCLUSIVE FREEBIE available for my email subscribers)
  • End-of-the-Year (FREEBIE)

These scavenger hunts also make great indoor recess activities since students are moving around, chatting, and getting to know more about one another.

More Winter Activities for Upper Elementary Students

The winter season also has fun holidays that allow you to incorporate more seasonal fun into learning. And don’t forget to grab your FREE Snowman Game Mats to use with ANY task card set.

These posts have even more ideas for you:

Happy Winter Teaching! β˜ƒοΈ

Feel free to pin this post for later. πŸ™‚

winter literacy activities for upper elementary
The Butterfly Teacher

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