I have more than your hands covered when planning a mitten day for your classroom lol! Here are my favorite learning activities for a fun and n”ice” mitten day!
Plan a Mitten Day where all the children wear their mittens to school (if possible bring extra pairs of mittens in case children forget or do not have mittens).
Mitten Relay Races
The children line up in 2 teams. Each child keeps one of their mittens on their hand and the other one is put in a pile at the opposite end of the room.
On their turn each child runs up to the mitten pile, finds their matching mitten, puts it on, and runs back to the start.
Pass the Ice Cube Game
This game is played similar to Hot Potato but the children wear mittens and pass around an ice cube instead of a potato.
Story and Activity
Read The Mitten by Alvin R. Tresselt or Jan Brett. Act out the story with the children by sitting them in a circle and having a large blanket in the middle that represents the mitten from the story. Choose a child to represent each animal from the story and have them crawl under the blanket similar to the animals crawling into the mitten. When the last animal enters the “mitten” (blanket) pull up the blanket quickly and have all the “animals” pop out!
You can also add coding skills to this gross motor activity. Make a grid formation with white pieces of construction paper or card stock in front of the large blanket.
Students act like the animals in the story and follow code to get through the snow (paper grid) and into the mitten (the blanket). They step one square at a time through the grid (snow) to the blanket (mitten) and crawl under it (get inside the mitten). Once all 8 animals from the story are under the blanket (in the mitten) the child who is the bear yells “Aaaa-chew”, I pull up the blanket quickly, and all the animals (students) pop out. It is great fun!
In recent years story coding has become a very popular and favorite activity. Even NAEYC has realized its importance – “Early coding, or precoding, offers children experiences that integrate communication, thinking, and problem solving. These are 21st century skills that are valuable for children’s future success in our digital world.”
In addition to the coding activity mentioned above, we also do hands-on and digital coding activities. You can read about them in more detail at this blog post.
For the hands-on story coding activity, students get to design a map or grid of a snow scene (setting from the book) and then act as programmers to design basic code in the correct sequence that will command a character from the book to follow the path and move to a select location (end point).
Before students move on to digital coding practice, I like to have them practice on paper and also assess their understanding. I created pages that coordinate with the events from the book.
Students create the code for the highlighted path by drawing directional arrows in each coding box across the top. The starting point is always the bottom left box with the star.
Once students feel more comfortable with coding for the story, we move on to digital practice with Boom Cards.
I like using Boom Cards because they are self-checking and have audio directions so young students can complete them independently. Also, I receive data on each student so I can assess their understanding.
Students create the code for the highlighted blue path by dragging and dropping the arrows to the coding boxes above the picture. They then move the book character from the box with the gold star along the path according to the code they created.
Mitten Relay Races Learning Activity
Copy the mitten pattern below onto different colors of construction paper. For each pair label one with an upper case M and the other with a lower case m. Have a mitten relay race similar to the one described above. Give each child a mitten with an upper case M. Put the others in a pile on the opposite end of the room. Each child must run up to the pile and find the mitten that is the same color as the one in their hand and has a lower case m (to make the game more challenging have mittens in the pile with other lower case letters of the alphabet so the children can practice letter recognition as well as color recognition).
Variations: One mitten can have a picture on it and the matching mitten is the one that has the beginning sound of the picture.
One mitten can have various numbers of dots on it and the child must count the dots on the mitten and then run to the pile and find the mitten that has the correct numeral (number) on it.
The mittens can have rhyming words or pictures on them.
The mittens can have sight words written on them for beginning reading practice.
The mittens can have shapes on them for shape recognition and color recognition practice.
For visual discrimination practice each pair of mittens can have a unique design and the child must find the mitten that is exactly the same as the one in his/her hand.
Mitten Day is the perfect time to do activities involving ice!
Ice Cube Race
Ask the children if they know how to make ice. Explain that ice is actually frozen water.
Tell the students you are going to have an ice cube race where they will try to melt their ice cube (turn it back into water) as fast as they can. Have the students put on their mittens and then give each child an ice cube. On your signal have them try to melt the ice cube any way possible (rub it in their hands, sit on it, step on it, rub it on the floor, etc.- allow them to be creative!). The first one to melt their ice cube is the winner. For younger students you may want to start with small ice cubes.
Ice Cube Paintings
Pour different colors of tempera paint in an ice cube tray (each square would contain a different color). Cover with saran wrap and insert toothpicks or popsicle sticks into the paint and freeze. Give each child a piece of white construction paper and let them paint with the ice cubes!
For this activity you will need a few bags of ice along with a few buckets of snow. Have the children put on their mittens and then allow them to build igloos using the snow to hold the ice cubes together. Take a picture of each child with their igloo as a keepsake. Have students estimate how long they think their igloos will last. Observe them throughout the day and have the students record (or take pictures) of how they change.
Ice Fishing Review Activity
To create this activity you will need a white shirt box or gift box with a lid to resemble the ice. Cut a hole in the lid to resemble an ice fishing hole and add blue tissue paper to the bottom of the box to resemble water.
Copy the fish pattern below onto construction paper and label each fish with a letter of the alphabet. Place a large paper clip or magnetic tape on each fish.
Create a fishing pole using a pole or stick with a piece of string tied to it. Place a magnet on the end of the string for “bait”. Place the fish in the box and explain to the students about ice fishing. Pretend the white box is a block of ice. While wearing their mittens, have the students drop the fishing line into the box and catch a fish (have the magnet on the fishing line attract to the paper clip or magnetic tape on a fish). The student must then remove the fish from the line and name the letter. You can use a number of variations for this activity such as letter sounds, colors, numbers, sight words, etc.