9 Math and Reading Activities to Warm Up With this Winter

With apologies to our friends in the South, there’s something about that first sticky snowfall that stirs the emotions. That rush you get as you bundle up to take on the biting cold in the ultimate test of man vs. nature. The pure, blissful serenity that comes with lying on one’s back and looking to the stars on a crisp, clear, and silent night… Sounds like it’s time to dig into the ol’ bag of winter activities for learning.

Yes, winter is not just coming—it has arrived. Whether you’re a Texas teacher tapping into your long-lost sweater collection, or an educator from more temperate climes double-checking how many snow days are built into the schedule, the shift in seasons comes with a shift in mindset. Students have settled into their routines, hallways are becoming ever more festive, and teachers are starting to think about second-half adjustments based on what has or hasn’t worked.

Here at eSpark, we’ve assembled our own winter wonderland of math and reading activities for your perusal. As always, these activities can be viewed and completed using the direct links provided, or by assigning the relevant Small Group Skill from your eSpark dashboard. If you aren’t already signed up, give us a try—we’re like other online programs you may have used in the past, only more fun (and more effective, but who’s counting?).


1. Sight Word Sledding (Beginner)

2. Sight Word Sledding (Intermediate)

3. Sight Word Sledding (Advanced)

An animated GIF of a student selecting their sled and dog before starting the game.

Nothing gets the adrenaline going quite like sitting on a low-friction object and letting gravity do its thing as you race down a hill of powdery precipitation. In Sight Word Sledding, students can customize their experience by choosing their character and vehicle before racing their doggo opponents by selecting the correct sight word at checkpoints along the way. Watch for exhilarating speed boosts throughout!

As an added bonus, we offer three different versions of the game, depending on how far along your students are in their sight word journey.


4. Main Idea of a Text

Polar bears, hibernating grizzlies, and a host of adorable penguins star in this instructional video on finding the main idea in an informational text.

*Fun fact:* This 7-year-old video is one of the most popular resources in eSpark’s YouTube library, with nearly half a million views.


5. Slapshot Numbers (Multiplication)

6. Slapshot Numbers (Rounding)

A goalie in front of a net with four numbered pucks in the foreground and a multiplication problem at the top of the screen

Have your students strap on their skates and deke out the goalie to score with multiplication facts and rounding in these two variations of Slapshot Numbers. Wrong answers will be knocked away by Team Red’s goalie, but demonstrations of fluency and accuracy are rewarded with goals.


7. Dragon Doom

A dragon breathing ice onto a number pad with a multiplication equation at the top of the screen

What if winter was forever? In the glacial galaxy of Dragon Doom, your students will work to free their frozen planets from the clutches of the all-powerful ice dragons. This timed multiplication challenge will force students to dig deep to find the unknown factor in multiplication equations before all memory of warmth is lost for good.


8. Antarctic Addition

Two penguins watch over a 4-digit addition problem with a number pad on the right side

Brrrr… Antarctica isn’t exactly the most inviting place in the world this time of year. In this game, students will help our penguin friends calculate their migration trip from the frozen glaciers around the South Pole to somewhere a little less frigid. Students will add four-digit numbers using the standard algorithm (don’t forget to carry those ones!).


9. Summarizing Strategies

  • Activity type: Video
  • Suggested grade level: 5th
  • This video is not currently featured in a Small Group Skill, but will be encountered by students in a Reading Informational Quest on Main Idea and Details.

College basketball is a staple of the winter season for many young sports fans. In this video, one teacher talks about her love of Duke’s storied basketball team and the strategies she has developed to celebrate her fandom without boring her friends. Students will learn how to think like a reporter when summarizing text by focusing on main ideas, keeping things simple, and thinking about the big picture.


A source of light as the days grow short

Nothing warms the soul quite like watching a student break through a mental barrier to master a new skill (although a cup of hot chocolate after a long day on the slopes comes close ⛷️). With eSpark’s unique, holistic approach to learning, students can absorb skills through a variety of fun instructional videos, game-based fluency practice, memorable songs, and cozy stories.

If you haven’t started eSparking yet, the winter months are a great time to try things out and see what sticks. See for yourself why eSpark is putting the traditional approach to supplemental instruction on ice with a better experience, loved by students and teachers alike. Stay warm, stay safe, and stay sharp out there, eSparkers!


Additional Resources

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