Math Activity Themes: Snowman Math

Snowman Math Activities

Snowmen are a common theme in many elementary classrooms during the winter months. Include some snowman math to beat the winter doldrums.

Snowman Skip Counting

Students need lots of practice with the skip counting patterns. Counting by 5s is an important mathematical skill for counting tally marks and counting nickels.

Snowman Math Mat

Die Toss Number Sentences: Use a snowman math mat to model addition sentences. Students may roll a die and place that many counters on one snowman. The student rolls the die again and places that many counters on the other snowman. Next, the student writes a number sentence in the spaces provided.

Oral Word Problems: Students might also use the snowman mat and dry erase markers to solve oral word problems. As they listen to the problem, students can make tally marks on the snowmen, then write a number sentence to solve the word problem. This use of the snowman mat also offers a semi-concrete pictorial model for students not yet ready to move to abstract number sentences alone. Note that this method can be used to find the sum or to find a missing addend. In the latter case, students may be able to count on, making a tally mark on the second snowman for each count until they reach the sum.

Tally Variation: Insert the snowman math mat in a sheet protector and give the student a dry erase marker. Have the student toss a die and make that many tally marks on one of the snowmen. The student tosses the die again and makes that many tally marks on the other snowman. Finally, the student writes a number sentence in the spaces provided below the snowmen.

Frosty's Estimation Station

Frosty's Estimation Station, created by Ms. O'Prandy, challenges her first graders to estimate how many cotton balls fill up Frosty.

Geometry: Symmetric Snowman

Mrs. Soranno's kindergarten students created symmetric snowmen. They used two colors of construction paper to create these symmetric snowmen. They extended the activity by making symmetric versions of many holiday symbols.

Snowman Glyphs & Graphing Ideas

Snowman Glyphs

Create snowmen glyphs to decorate the classroom.

  • Mrs. Arocho's kindergarten students created Snowman glyphs. See the picture on the right to view the legend students used and to see samples of their glyphs which were proudly displayed in the school hallway for all to admire.
  • Lynn Weber's Snowperson Glyph is a legend for creating glyphs.
  • This Snowman Glyph is a simple coloring project

Snowman Graph Ideas

It is very easy to incorporate graphing into a snowman unit. Consider these possibilities to get the creative juices flowing. Remember to include different kinds of graphs as suggested below.

  • Snowman Info.: As an introduction to the unit, graph how many students have built a snowman [clothespin graph with simple yes/no options]
  • Snowman Unit: At the conclusion of the snowman unit, have students vote on their favorite activity. [bar graph]
  • Snowman Recycling: How many sheets of paper do you recycle in your class each day? Collect data for a week. [line graph] Shred some of the recycled paper to create the recycled snowmen, pictured to the left. Use scraps of leftover construction paper or wrapping paper to decorate the snowmen.

Math-Literature Connections: Snowman

The Fattest, Tallest, Biggest Snowman Ever by Bettina Ling

This Level 2 Hello Math Reader (Gr. 1-2) introduces students to the concept of measuring objects using nonstandard units and instruments.   When neither child's arms are long enough to measure around the snowmen to see whose snowman is biggest, they decide to use a string of paper clips to measure.

  • The book also provides suggestions for follow-up measurement activities such as the String-a-Long Game in which students look at (but don't touch) ordinary, everyday objects, then cut a piece of string they think is the same length as the object.   Students compare their strings to the object to see whose string is closest to the length.   Consider using the "String-a-Long Game" as a great measurement center activity.
  • Paper-clip chains:   Have students measure classroom objects using paper-clip chains.   Be sure to ask students to estimate first, then measure.   Students will begin to develop an "eye for distances."

Snowman Games

Last Snowman Standing Game

Snowmen: The snowmen pictured above were created with two wooden beads glued together, then painted white, The face was added with sharpie pens. Just be sure to buy the beads that have a flat bottom so that the snowmen will stand.

The snowmen face off in this game of addition facts. But beware! A toss of the die may mean the sun melts a snowman. Students practice addition facts as they try to be the last snowman standing because in this game the first person to remove all of his/her snowmen loses the game!

Download the Last Snowman Standing Game for directions and game mats for three different versions of the game:

  • Sum of Two Dice Version to practice addition facts
  • Difference of Two Dice Version to practice subtraction facts
  • One Die Toss for a simplified version to analyze the probability of a die toss

Data Collection: The directions for each version also include directions for data collection and analysis of the outcomes of the games. Be sure to incorporate these activities, if at all possible, as games offer a highly motivational study in probability. Students love to "play games" to collect data. They're also eager to analyze games so that they learn how the game works and what strategies they can use to improve their odds of winning.

Differentiation: This game offers many opportunities to differentiate the activity. First of all, teachers are able to select from three different versions. Secondly, each teacher should differentiate the game analysis to meet the instructional level of his/her students. Most students can handle the questions with teacher guidance. Older students and talented primary students may be challenged to analyze the game and answer the questions in small groups.

Snowman Problem Solving

Snowman Links

  • Virtual Vine's Snowman Unit is a collection that includes math activities and counting songs.
  • Challenge students to find a path through the Snowman Maze