Slipping on the Ice Literacy

Here in Saint Louis Missouri, winter has made its rude arrival and is settling in for the foreseeable future, much to my chagrin and insistence that it leave at once. We had some freezing rain here the other day and while it made the woods behind our house look like a winter wonderland even Elsa would envy, it caused me the deepest desire to dart into the warm chrysalis of my favorite fuzzy blanket and hibernate until the first sign of spring.

Not bad of a view (from inside)

Unfortunately, my four year old son (like many children) seems to be disinterested in becoming a recluse and avoiding the outside world at all costs until the air smells like rain. I suppose he’s wiser than I am though, since becoming a hermit is frowned upon in our society and my fair, white af skin would probably become translucent if I stayed in all winter. That would be frightening for everyone. Plus the whole being outside is good for your body and soul yada yada.

An actual photo of me come springtime

*Sighs to self.* Alright, alright I’ll make sure that the kids get outside this winter to play in the fresh air. I’ll even drag my sorry hiney out there for that good ole vitamin D and even take some walks. I truly do feel better afterward, but the struggle is real getting outside in the first place. Some days though? Like freezing rain days? It’s a hard no from me dawg. Today is one of those days-I’m heating up some tea in my new pink tea kettle ( my Christmas gift from Jack) and I’m watching the freezing rain fall from the comfort of my own home. And pjs. It’s all good though-I have a fun lesson planned that should whet the appetite of our children hungry to play outside in the horrid weather. I hope it buys you some time in your house too. Fingers crossed!

Slipping on the Ice Literacy : Reading comprehension and pre-writing

Prep: (day before) fill a shallow plastic Tupperware or dish with about 1/4 inch of water. Add some blue food coloring to make it extra exciting. Place a smaller, heavier dish inside (this will make a pool later). Place in freezer overnight to freeze solid.

Materials: (day of lesson)

  • Ice sensory bin you made-take it out of the freezer about an hour before the lesson to loosen up and remove the heavier dish. Fill the gap it created with some water.
  • Five plastic penguins or any animal you have available
  • Plastic tree or stick from outside
  • Large sheet of paper/easel if you have one and writing utensil
  • Book, Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice by Steve Metzger (or YouTube version)
Read aloud book


  1. Read aloud, Five Little Penguins Slipping on the Ice by Steve Metzger. Before the story begins, prompt your child to remember as many things that the penguins did as they can. This will build engagement in the story as well as encourage recall.
  2. Discuss the story. Ask your child, “What activities did the penguins do before they got hurt during the story?” Record their responses on a large sheet of paper/easel, stating aloud each word as you write it. Writing in front of your child demonstrates a variety of literary concepts, for example but not limited to: which direction we write in, shapes of letters, and the idea that long spoken words have more letters. If your child cannot recollect all the activities that the penguins did, go back and check the story together to make sure that you get all the activities written down. This was our first lesson after Christmas break and Jack needed a lot of prompting to come up with all the activities!
  3. Play. Time to show off the sensory bin you created! Tell your child that they are going to play by acting out the story. Show them five animals that you got out. Prompt them to have the toys do the activities that the penguins did in the story, like skating on the ice or slipping and falling. If they seem up to a challenge, see if your child can act out the story in order. While your child plays, interject some parallels to the book and their play, narrating what they do that makes connections with the story. (“Oh! The penguin fell into the icy sea just like in the book!”). Once your child has demonstrated all the activities that the penguins did in the book, it’s time for free play! Allow him or her to play with the sensory bin however he or she chooses. If you have time to watch, I bet you’ll see that brain firing as some of the aspects of their game relates back to the story! Let that creativity shine! Jack even requested that we keep the bin for a few days afterward and continued his game. Now THAT is what learning looks like in preschool!
Yep, we used a palm tree to represent the tree in the book! It’s ok to use what you have! We just made a point to discuss that is was a symbol and not realistic in Antarctica.

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I’m a stay at home mom of two little boys, Jackson and Sawyer. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education and a masters degree in the education field as well. I have experience teaching a variety of ages from birth through grade 12! I’m passionate about child development, gentle parenting, and learning through play. I’ve spent the last few months developing a preschool curriculum for my 4 year old son and would love for you to follow along for inspiration in your own home!

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