Is it all ice and snow where you live? No matter your answer, preschoolers will love these winter math activities that features “icicles” and “snowballs”.
This post features a free number formation printable, so be sure to grab it from the end of this post!
Preschool Winter Math Activities
The fascination with ice and snow is endless at my house.
My poor kids. They are desperate for snow.
And while we live almost exactly halfway between the equator and the North Pole, to be specific, despite the freezing temperatures we seldom get snow.
Just this morning, after coming from the library for a special story time with the Elsa princess, the faintest and tiniest snowflakes began to flutter from the sky. My kinder aged boy dropped his book bag, lifted his hand above his head, and literally twirled in a circle while hollering, “It’s snowing!”
What disappointment when he realized the snowflakes were never going to accumulate enough to make a single snowball, let along an actual snowman.
So, I have to compensate a bit.
Because when kids are fascinated with something you have to take advantage of that interest and use it to teach a variety of skills.
And that’s exactly where these winter math activities come in.
FAQ About Teaching a Winter Preschool Theme
January is the most popular time to teach a winter theme in preschool. Topics like ice and snowmen, mittens and boots, and penguins and arctic animals are all fitting. Try spending an entire week learning all about winter clothing.
While snowy woodland scenes are icons of winter landscape, you can still teach a winter preschool theme even if it doesn’t snow where you live. You can teach about ice and frozen things, hibernating animals, as well as coats and mittens.
You can purchase fake snow that makes a really fun science experiment, or you can make your own faux snow by mixing baking soda and shaving cream together.
A well-done preschool theme is going to include a variety of activities in different content areas. Activities should include winter alphabet activities, winter math activities, sensory and art activities, as well as winter fine motor and dramatic play activities.
You can see all the best winter theme preschool activities here:
>>> Best Winter Activities for Preschoolers <<<
Related Winter Activities for Preschoolers
5+ Winter Math Activities for Preschoolers Using Number Formation Cards
NOTE: These number formation cards have been updated and now feature a ten frame representing the numeral on the card. Now, you can do even more counting activities with preschoolers using these cards.
Set Up All the Winter Math Activities
Place the pony beads in a bowl, all mixed up. Alternatively, you can invite your preschooler to sort out the wintery colors from a larger set of beads. (That’s a super easy activity to add to your sorting lesson plans in preschool math).
Set the bowl of beads and the iridescent pipe cleaners on a tray with the printable number cards and invite your preschoolers to join you in a little fine motor fun!
12 Fine Motor Task Boxes$10.00
Icicles and Snowballs Winter Fine Math Activity
My little boys and I started by reading some winter themed picture books, of course, because that is such an important piece in learning! My boys love being read to!
But the main reason we started our winter theme unit with lots of picture books is because I wanted my boys to see multiple illustrations of snow! (Remember, the lack of snow where we live?) Those illustrations lead us into the discussion we needed to have about the snowballs in our winter math activities.
So, I invited my boys to sort out all the winter colored pony beads. As you can see, we were not limited to white and light blue, but there were a few grays and off-whites in there, too, which made it more fun and a little more challenging! It’s winter!
Sorting out the pony beads required a lot of skill work as they delicately picked out the winter colored pony beads.
And sorting is one of the first math skills related to algebra! In fact, I spend several weeks working on sorting skills with my preschoolers.
This was a really fun way yo begin our snow math activities.
Threading Snowballs onto Icicles Winter Math Activity
After the beads were all sorted out, I allowed a little time for my boys to just add the beads to the pipe cleaner. That’s when we decided that the beads were snowballs and the pipe cleared were icicles.
This is a really important step that shouldn’t be skipped when removing traditional winter worksheets and replacing them with fun winter play-based activities instead. The rest of your lesson will go more smoothly if the children are allowed to play with the materials a little bit first. (But I did ask my preschoolers not to bend the pipe cleaner).
So the boys “poked” the snowballs with icicles as they practiced threading the beads onto the pipe cleaner. This is fantastic fine motor work, and you gotta’ love having a winter theme to it, too!
When the icicles were full of snowballs, we counted together as each snowball was pulled off and placed back into the bowl. The boys were able to count easily to about 15 before they lost track and I modeled counting to finish for them.
Make This a Winter Math Activity for Kindergarten
After the initial activity above, I then offered the boys number formation cards. We’ve used these for a ton of activities before, but this is the first time I’ve ever shared them on my blog.
Number formation is a big deal in kindergarten! These cards can be added to your kindergarten math activities. Remember the updated cards have ten frames on them, so they are appropriate for many number sense activities.
The boys drew a card at random, traced the number with their finger, and then counted out the corresponding number or snowballs onto their icicle.
Alternatively, you can also place these number formation cards in a dry erase pocket and use dry erase markers, too. Sometimes I offer them that way just to make them seem new again.
But I always keep these in my math centers for my preschoolers to use at any time during the year.
Make This a Winter Counting Activity for Preschoolers and Kindergartners
Of course, these cards can be drawn at random and students can count out the corresponding number of snowballs to thread onto the icicle.
Since the updated free winter counting cards have ten frames, the children can practice one to one correspondence twice by first placing the beads onto the ten frame and then threading them onto the pipe cleaner.
Another Math Idea is to Match Numerals and Beaded Pipe Cleaners
Later in the week, we followed the opposite of the above activity and the boys added a few snowballs before finding the corresponding number card from a pile. Once selected, they traced the number with their finger and then identified the number, followed by one more time counting as they removed the beads from the pipe cleaner.
If your preschoolers or kindergarten students struggle with the matching activity, have them remove the beads from the pipe cleaner to place on the ten frames on the card to self-check if they match or not.
Related Reading About Counting
Teaching Addition with Free Number Formation Cards for Winter
Since we were working with two basic colors, blue and white, some addition practice naturally came about. One of my little boys drew a number formation card, and both boys identified the number and traced it with their finger. Then, they added the corresponding number of beads…in a single color.
Let’s say white.
Then, we drew a second card and repeated the above to essentially make a number sentence. 3+2=5
The two different colors of beads represented part-part-whole adding. To help my little boys understand this better, I use language like,
You have three white snowballs, and then you added two blue snowballs. So now you have five snowballs on your icicle!
Or sometimes it sounds like this,
You started with three white snowballs, then you put on two blue snowballs. Now you have five snowballs!
Teach Subtraction Using Snowballs and Icicles Math Activity
The addition activity can be done in reverse to teach subtraction, too!
For this activity, I invited my little boys to add a certain number of beads to their pipe cleaner. Keep it under ten, for most preschoolers.
Then, invite your preschooler to carefully remove all the beads of one color while leaving the other color on.
Your language might sound like this,
We started with seven snowballs. Two of them were blue, and five of them were white. We took the blue snowballs off. Look, now we only have five white snowballs left! 7-2=5.
Finally, I invited my little boys too sort through the number formation cards to find the corresponding numbers that matched the number sentence they made.
Want the FREE Number Formation Cards?
You can grab them right here! I’ve used them for a ton of activities, so stay tuned for more! Just click the image below.
Even More Printable Winter Math Activities
You can never have too many learning activities for any particular theme. Add these printable math games and other winter activities for kids to your winter theme preschool lesson plans.
These winter printables are easy to prep and huge time-savers! Add them to your preschool centers or circle time activities.
Want Some More Winter Activities for Preschoolers?
Get Free Winter Lesson Plans for Preschool
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.