Exploring winter guest blog: earlyyearsrqt - Winter as a topic and educational tool

Exploring winter guest blog: earlyyearsrqt - Winter as a topic and educational tool

Thank you @EarlyYearsRQT


As early years providers we love to immerse our children in topics which interest them but also with topics they are familiar with, weather and seasonal change is such a popular one. When looking into winter for many of us it feels like winter is Christmas. My winter resource box is full of Christmas activities as well as snow and ice activities and small world play. It’s a topic popular for starting back in January as a mini topic before delving into our new PLODs (potential lines of development). As an adult, I feel like when Christmas is done winter is on its way out but in actual fact winter is a much longer season that it seems. This year running from December 21st 2020 right up until 20th March 2021. People often celebrate the first day of spring but rarely do we think about how long those winter months really are! In this blog I am going to be thinking about winter, as a topic, as an educational tool and ultimately as something children can learn and engage with, be that in school or at home. At a time where home learning is potentially becoming a reality again for many people I hope this gives parents and practitioners alike ideas which are manageable, as well as highlighting learning for the children in their care.

With a huge proportion of the country having restrictions placed on their movements, activities and feeling frustrated; for many of us the only option for outings, and socialising is through walks. Walks are a great way for us to exercise and get fresh air during these uncertain times. It is important for us as adults as well as our little people. Be it playing in the garden, walking to the corner shop, taking an adventure to the woods or park etc. Obviously it is important to abide by the tier restrictions in your local area. It is all about exposing ourselves to nature, to take a breath, calm down and explore wherever that may be for you. Taking these walks, talking about what you can see now and playing in these environments allows children to notice changes and developments. Allowing time to play in nature, explore it and learn from it is an enjoyable way to play and learn. Winter is often popular with children, pictures of snow and snowmen as well as films like Disney’s Frozen make it an engaging topic for young children.


Many areas in the UK have experienced some level of snow coverage! For some that is amazing and others would rather be inside snuggled under blankets. Whichever you choose there are benefits for your children and their learning and development. Don’t feel guilty for having a movie day and relaxing. Those days are just as important as busier days full of planned activities with planned developments and outcomes. Trust me as a teacher I know these are important but they are not everything. For many of you at home this could be the first fall of snow for your child. Or the first fall of snow they will remember, the first they are old enough to play in. There will be milestones for all families for a variety of reasons. Whatever you chose to do know as long as they are happy and healthy they are learning. So play in the snow, watch it from the window, put a snow day film on or recreate a small world play of it. Do what works for you, what makes you feel happy and engages your children. If small world play is something they love think about building your own!

In a world where we are all thinking about reducing waste and reusing where we can. At a time of year where we are much more likely to have packaging around the house we need to think about the ways we can use it before recycling or throwing it away. This can often prove exciting for young children. It is well known how much interest a cardboard box holds for children! Often because the possibilities are endless. I have seen many exciting uses for Christmas packaging over the last couple of weeks including boxes turned into igloos, dens and caves. As well as using left over polystyrene packaging as icebergs, incorporating water play into it and small world animals. If you have already disposed of all your polystyrene but want to have a go at this play Little Acorns have several items which would be perfect for recreating these types of play. Check out my other blog post (coming soon) ‘Winter play purchases’ to see what other items I recommend for Winter play activities.

When looking at such an immersive topic like winter it’s great to use real life experiences and objects such as ice. Ice play is exciting for children across a range of ages and it can be used in a number of ways. Ice play is often used all through the year but the winter topic makes it more prevalent. You can freeze animals or play food in the ice, for them to dig out, or melt the ice to reach. You can make potions and mix with ice. Use real tools to crush or break the ice. You can freeze ice in the freezer inside or if you are lucky enough, get the children to help you fill balloons or tubs and put them outside. Then they can come to find out what has happened to them the next day. Whether they have fully frozen, partially frozen, or just gone very cold it will create a topic of conversation and a learning moment.



We have talked so far about Winter as the topic, the resources you can use to explore this topic, but one way we can teach and learn, a way that parents use and often forget about is speech. Speech and language is an area which if supported children thrive, they learn, they teach, they develop. So when engaging in the types of play talked about above talk, that doesn’t just mean questioning your child for answers you want them to give. It means:

  • Playing alongside your child, talking about what you are doing, for example ‘wooosh, the penguin slides down the ice into the water’
  • Wonder aloud, for example ‘I wonder what will happen to the ice on the table’
  • Talking about what you can see, even to your bump or newborn, for example ‘The grass is icy today, it feels crunchy under my boots’
  • Notice aspects in nature, for example ‘can you see how the leaves on the trees are gone now?’
  • Highlight differences in local environment, for example ‘Yesterday the grass was green and now it’s covered in white snow’

These are just some of the ways you can use language to enhance topics. The way you can immerse learning into your homes and experiences.


Many ways we look at winter is through the popular topic of seasonal change. This is done across a range of ages. Schools look at these topics across the years especially in Infant schools and nurseries. It is in the science curriculum for Key Stage 1 in schools (years 1 and 2). In the Early Years Foundation Stage, Understanding the World area of learning children notice changes in their familiar world, highlighting similarities and differences, in reception and pre-school. The more you talk to your children about these topics and build their language and confidence the more secure they will feel when it comes up, time and time again in school.


Whatever you decide to do this winter with your children and your families make the most of the experiences. 2020 taught us more than ever that we don’t know what could come around the corner, losing someone we love, having our freedoms restricted and the world around us changing. Whatever the age of your child think about the things you can do together, the quality time you give them, talking, playing, exploring, learning! Children’s brains are beautiful little sponges constantly learning from us and often with us. We learn with them. We learn from them. Learning is an ongoing process, we never stop learning.


I wish everyone reading this a belated happy new year, I hope you have enjoyed the Christmas period as much as physically possible. It’s not always a happy time for everyone and this year was especially different. As we look into the new year and inevitably look at ourselves and set new year’s resolutions just take a minute to think and remember. When going on social media we see ‘Pinterest perfect play’ and ‘Instagram worthy’ set ups BUT play is about the process, the talk, the experience.  It’s not always about the perfect Instagram photo. Although they often make us feel better about ourselves. The children don’t know. They see the fun, remember the experience. If it makes you feel better to take a beautiful picture before they play (I know it makes me feel better sometimes!) go ahead, but don’t judge yourselves against them.


I am excited to have had the opportunity to write this blog post. If you liked it give me a follow @EarlyYearsRQT and send me a message!