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3 Engaging Winter Reading Activities for Kindergarten

If you’re looking for engaging winter reading activities for kindergarten, a focus on fine motor skills, phonics activities, and more, then you’ve come to the right place!  Christmas is such a magical time of year for our little learners – there are fun games, concerts, pajama days, and each classroom looks like a winter wonderland.  But when the Christmas excitement is over, everyone experiences a little bit of sadness. Students come in after holiday break a little bit glossy-eyed, tired, and down-trodden because winter is just setting in. Depending upon where you live, winter can feel long and in a classroom, it can be difficult to get some momentum going.  But even though it seems like the fun is over, it doesn’t have to be!  Enter: 3 engaging winter reading activities for kindergarten!  These winter reading activities are a great way to keep your students engaged, having fun, and learning all at the same time!  And yes – even through some grueling cold weather.

Hands-On Winter Activities for Kindergarten Literacy Centers

Since this time of year feels so long to teachers and students alike, we may find our students a *little* less engaged than normal during these few months.  Regardless, we can still make literacy centers fun and hands-on using these winter reading activities for kindergarten students!  And to boot, these centers may very well work best in winter compared to any other time of the year since they’re a great way to spark curiosity and engagement.  If you’re not afraid of a little mess in your classroom, these winter reading activities for kindergarten are centers that will be sure to please all of your students during these dark days!  

winter literacy center activity

Snow Center

    • One of my favorite winter reading activities for kindergarten students in the winter is a snow center.  In this activity, students search for sight words among white pom poms!  Simply put some white pom poms or small cotton balls in a bin or on a paper plate with a grabbing tool.  Place sight word cards face up, down, or leaning against the pom poms and have students grab them while they read!  This snow center not only works on fine motor skills with grabbing, but also keeps them sharp with their sight words.  Putting images of arctic animals on the sight word cards to make them more festive makes for a great time!  And let’s be honest – cotton balls are a great addition to any center – winter or otherwise!
sight word in snow activity

Snowy Sight Word Writing

    • Remember when I said don’t be afraid of a little mess?  This next winter reading activities for kindergarten center is so engaging and such a great addition to your word work centers that a little mess will be more than worth it!  During snowy sight word writing, students will write sight words in fake snow.  All you need are some photo boxes, sight word cards, fake snow, and small Christmas trees for the writing tool.  Simply place the sight word cards and the Christmas trees in a bowl in the center of the table.  Then, fill the photo boxes with fake snow (a little goes a long way!)  Students will open a photo box, grab a tree and a sight word card, and place the card on the lid.  Students will then write the sight word in the snow with their tree, practicing fine motor skills.  If you can’t find small evergreen trees, a popsicle stick with winter animals on it is a great alternative!  If you’re feeling extra festive, don’t be afraid to add some arctic animals or Christmas decorations to the sight word card.  Looking to enhance this winter reading activity for kindergarten?  Messes not a bother to you?  Try making this activity into a sensory bin where they search for the word with their hands.  There’s no better way to practice reading than with adding in a little sensory play.
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Festive Phonemic Awareness Manipulatives

    • Switching out objects and manipulatives is one of the simplest things you can do in your classroom to make hands-on winter activities for kindergarten students more engaging for your students.  This is because you can take any phonemic awareness activity you’ve been doing all year in your classroom and make it feel new by just replacing chips with all things winter: white pom poms, erasers with Christmas trees, or regular clothespins with ones with white paint and snowmen or winter animals on them.  Who wouldn’t love practicing reading with a cute polar bear?!  It’s so important to remember that as teachers we don’t need to always reinvent the wheel – sometimes even the smallest changes bring about the most excitement!  Switching out manipulatives to ones that are more festive for the winter season is a great way to make these hands-on winter reading activities for kindergarten literacy centers more magical.
    • When you’ve traded your normal manipulatives for something winter-themed ones, try having students state a word and stretch out the sounds, touching an object for each sound. For example, if the word is “chat”, then have students touch one winter pom pom for ch, another for a, and another for t.  Students can also physically open and close the festive clothespin for each sound they year in a word.  Teachers can also say sounds in a word while students repeat it back to you, pushing up mini Christmas tree, snowflake, or hot chocolate erasers.  If the students would like a bit more of a challenge, try saying a word and asking them to put their finger on the object that matches up to the position of the vowel sound in the CVC word.  For example, if the word is “cat”, then students will have three objects in front of them.  They will then put their finger on the one in the middle.  If you don’t have mini erasers on hand, simply printing out winter-themed images and cutting them out is just as great!
    • All of these hands-on winter reading activities for kindergarten can be done at whole group time or during your small groups and will provide so much fun for your students during a gloomy time of year.  These are just the perfect way for students to hone in on their literacy skills all winter long
    • Winter reading activities for kindergarten can also focus on sight words.  If you’re really looking to work on sight words with your students, you can still practice your sight words using manipulatives.  Contrary to how they were taught in the past, we now know that surprisingly, the vast majority of sight words can be sounded out.  And if they can’t, then we can still use phonics to help us decode them.  Place two different winter manipulatives out on the table.  Have students sound out sight words and when they get to a “heart” portion of the word, have them grab a different manipulative.  For example, let’s say you’re using artic animals erasers for all of the sounds that follow the rules.  You can use cotton balls for the “heart” portions of the word, or the portion we need to memorize by heart.  If your sight word is “said”, have students pull down an eraser for the s, and a pom pom for the aid portion of the word.

Winter Worksheets for Kindergarten Students

There are times throughout the winter where you don’t have time to set up elaborate centers.  The cold weather sometimes seems to freeze us in our tracks.  Sometimes you’d just like quick, grab-and-go worksheets and games but where you don’t want to lose engagement or effectiveness.  The great news is that I have three amazing winter reading activities for kindergarten for you this winter that are a great way to make this time of year a little less glum!

Winter Phonics Games and Fluency Activities

    • I have to be honest here – this is one of my favorite resources!  One of the reasons this is a great activity is that it works on so many skills at once: decoding, fluency, words in isolation, and more.  Plus, the hands-on game at the end of each phonics skill is the perfect way to work on decoding for our little learners.
    • Students will read words in isolation, the same words within sentences, and finally graduate to reading them in a short story – all the while working on fluency.  For a little “reward” at the end of their hard work, students will play a game where they roll the die and read words that focus on a specific phonics skill.
    • The great news is that this winter reading activity for kindergarten is all ready for you to just print and go and add to your centers, small groups, or partner work!  Plus, as always, it covers a huge variety of phonics skills from CVC words to digraphs to diphthongs and everything in-between! 
    • Grab the Winter Phonics Games and Fluency Activities to use with your readers today!

Winter Phonics Word Mats

    • I absolutely love any activity that incorporates both decoding and encoding because the two should always go and be taught hand-in-hand.  Or should I say mitten-in-mitten?  These fun winter phonics word mats are winter-themed and cover a variety of phonics patterns.
    • Students will practice encoding and decoding words in isolation and within sentences, all the while writing their own.  This winter reading activity for kindergarten can either be done in small groups or literacy centers.  Students will pick cards and say the word out loud, saying each sound in the word and then placing the letter cards down to form the word (encoding).  Students will then read the word again and practice decoding! 
    • Grab the Winter Phonics Mats to help your readers with decoding and encoding all winter long!

Winter I Am a Reader Passages

    • My I am a Reader Passages are perfect for many reasons but mostly one: building confidence in young readers.  This concept is so very important in the early years of reading (and all other years, really). When students feel confident about themselves, this keeps them excited about reading.  When they’re excited about reading, they’re more likely to pick up a book and be engaged in a story.  This confidence is exactly what we need to gift our young readers so that they can be more apt to learn new phonics skills.
    • These winter reading activities for kindergarten give you 30 passages all complete with comprehension and word work activities that will have your little learners reading in context (which is an essential skill for growing readers).  Specifically designed for early readers, these Winter I Am a Reader Passages will develop their reading abilities through word work activities, comprehension questions, and statements to encourage and celebrate their work!  Each reader will end the passage with a feel-good sentiment about reading to increase confidence.
    • Grab the Winter I am a Reader Passages and start building confidence in your readers!

Free Winter Reading Activities for Kindergarten

What can make this cold weather time of year better?  Yep – free resources!  

  • If you’re wanting to try these awesome winter reading activities for kindergarten for free, then opt in here and see what all of the fuss is about regarding my Winter CVC Phonics Game and Fluency Activities!
  • Additionally, if you’re wanting to learn more about these resources and how they will benefit your little learners, read more about the Winter Phonics Games and Fluency Activities in this blog post!


This winter season and life after winter break doesn’t have to be grueling, and it’s my hope with this post that you can incorporate some fun winter activities into your classroom.  Now is the perfect time to hunker down and settle into some great winter reading activities for kindergarten.  Cold weather is actually a great opportunity to slow down and concentrate on all things literacy.  I hope we can learn to appreciate the winter time, which gives us the opportunity to not rush around so much and to practice pausing, enjoying the slow days. Despite a cold climate,  I hope that we can incorporate a little fun into our literacy centers for our young and eager readers!

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Aylin Claahsen

Providing resources and support to engage all readers.

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Hi, I'm Aylin!

I’m so happy you’re here! I’m a certified reading specialist who loves talking all things literacy. I have a huge passion for providing resources and support to engage all readers!


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