It’s November and, here in Illinois, that means cooler temperatures and winter outerwear. Getting the children dressed for outdoor play is one more way that you can meet your math standards while engaging in everyday activities. Outdoor play in the winter months includes snow or rain pants, boots, coats, hats and mittens. Getting my young group dressed for outdoor play is a challenge in itself. This is when math—specifically sequencing—comes into play.
By breaking this dressing activity down into smaller steps, we find success within the first week. This is getting ready for kindergarten. This is routine and patterns and sequence. This teaches our students to be self-sufficient. This makes our students every kindergarten teacher’s dream child!
By learning to dress themselves, children strengthen developing skills such as coordination, memory and body awareness. This process takes TIME—and we have a lot more time than working parents trying to make it to an early-morning meeting. I embrace this activity as an important part of our curriculum. We have time. We need fresh air and play. Trust me, this will improve your winter sanity! Here’s how I do it.
I make the following stations:
- Bathroom break
- Snow or rain pants
- Boots (preferably slip-on or velcro—easier to deal with the boots BEFORE the coat goes on)
- Hat and scarf
- Mittens (preferably waterproof snow mittens, although car mittens will work fine if you’re not engaging in water play or traversing wet terrain)
I place these stations in a row from our cubbies all the way to our exit door. Allow plenty of room between each station. One teacher I know uses all four corners of her classroom. If you have not been taught the “firefighter flip” for putting on jackets, I will let two-year-old Jonathan show you the steps:
Toes to the tag… hands slip into the armholes… and…FLIP!
All the way, over the head… and down sink the arms… and…ta da!
We love the firefighter flip and use it all year long. It takes a few practice sessions, but I guarantee that successful coat flipping is in your future if you are not already using this method.
At the exit door, I provide some last-minute help with hats, scarves, zippers and mittens.
For some reason, removing the cold-weather gear seems to go more quickly. I use laundry baskets as stations for removing the gear, which allows me to quickly and easily place the wet gear in the proper drying places.
Sequence. Routine. Pattern. It’s all there. It’s all math! Regardless of the season, find a sequence in your everyday classroom activities and break it down into little steps. During these crisp, beautiful late autumn and early winter days, put on your own hat and coat and join in the fun!