How to Deal with Winter Gear in Kindergarten


Wintertime lasts anywhere from October to April for us in Indiana.

Needless to say, being prepared as a teacher for winter and winter gear makes my life easier, saves instructional time, and ends up teaching my kinders organizational skills.

How to Deal with Winter Gear in Kindergarten - Tips from a Real Teacher

Here are my sanity-saving tips broken down for you and I’ve included a free printable to make it easy on your beginning readers.

Prep parents and families

I try to let parents know my expectations as a teacher.

Yes, I expect your child to have a coat that zips and for them to have proper winter gear d.a.i.l.y

I use a parent email and also a parent-friendly flyer to share my expectations.

I also like to pass on tips about practicing snow clothes when kinders aren’t being hurried out the door since no one learns great under pressure.

What to look for in a winter coat for kindergarten

It may seem over-simplified, but many parents with a first time kindergartner appreciate the insight.

Prep your classroom winter gear “stash”

I recognize that there will be kinders that don’t have or bring winter gear for any variety of reasons. Here’s how I am prepared for this situation each year.

I try to keep multiple sets of snow pants, gloves, hats and scarves on hand. This stash of gloves gets used the most and I dole out hats carefully {yeah, we all know why}.

The snow pants and a few sets of boots I keep on hand get an “owner” for the kindergarten year and they remain at school in their snow bag just for those children who would otherwise never get the opportunity to play in the snow and be blacktop bound.

How do I acquire such a stash?

  1. Use the lost and found. At the end of the year {or whenever your school makes a donation dump} simply ask if you can take ownership over any leftover boots, snow pants, etc. that might fit your kiddos for the following year. Wash and you’re set to go!
  2. Hit up a couple of thrift stores. If you are one who spends your own money {or can request to spend some money from Santa / a school allowance} then this is an inexpensive way to find gear.
  3. I recommend the Dollar Tree for a set of hat, gloves and a scarf that match. Keep the color of the sets different so you can easily keep the set pieces together. I like to usually have 3-5 sets. Keep the sets handy so that once winter hits, you can grab them quickly and be set to go.
  4. Ask parents for “outgrown” snow pants if they are purchasing new this year. You’ll often find that someone else’s outgrown set will help clothe another kinder in your room!

Save instructional time

My favorite way to save instructional time is to prep and model my snow gear expectations. This is my number one tip.

I seriously model exactly how and what order I want students to dress in their winter gear!

I model how to find a space within the classroom, how to work smartly within a time limit, and how to use common sense dressing order.

Want to make them laugh? Model putting on gloves first and then fumble with every piece of gear showing how order matters.

It works.

Winter Gear *Sanity Saver* Tips for Teachers :: KindergartenWorks

Kinders will often try to put their gloves on at random times while getting dressed for recess.

Yeah… so that doesn’t work out well.

I teach how to dress for lunch (since my kinders go to recess straight from lunch) by putting on snow pants, boots and take everything else in an orderly fashion.

Winter clothing order poster

I also tape up the order of how to get dressed for recess in the lunchroom to empower them and remind them of the expectations of dressing themselves completely.

[terms of use] [downloading help]

Have a place for each clothing item

Having a specific place for storing each clothing item makes them more confident and successful at getting stuff put away quickly rather than just shoving it all “somewhere”.

Snowpants and boots

I recommend that students bring just their snow pants and boots in a reusable shopping bag.

These are the two items I have them keep in that bag. These bags are my secret for making dressing/undressing quicker, plus teaching organization.

The bags sit open when on the floor without needing extra hands to hold it open when trying to fit {ahem, shove} everything in.

I teach students how to put boots in first and then “squishy” pants on top (or next to) since they can fit around. I model how the reverse doesn’t work as well.

Reusable shopping bags come in varying sizes, but most small to medium sizes fit everything perfectly and can make storing in the classroom or out in the hallway simplified.

How to use a reusable shopping bag to send snow pants and boots to school

We store our bags out in the hallway since our closet is too small.

Sometimes I will purchase a few at the Dollar Tree to make it happen for those who don’t bring one (or for a classroom set that stays in the classroom).

Gloves, hats, and scarves

So where do gloves and hats go, you ask?

We store gloves, hats and scarves in a “ready to go” manner. I created a little routine that I teach and model over and over.

It’s my secret recipe to keep hats and gloves from getting lost.

  1. Students turn their winter hat upside down to form a pocket.
  2. They place their gloves inside their hat and stuff the entire package into their sleeve.
  3. If they have a scarf, they shove it into the other sleeve.
Stuff jacket sleeves with hat gloves and scarf for classroom closet organization

Their jacket is ready to hang up or take anywhere without losing any gear in the process.

This is what I meant earlier when I said they had to take their stuff ready to go to lunch – but it’s how they stored their gear in the classroom closet too.

Coats – use your hang tags

Teach your kinders how to hang coats using the “hang tag” so they don’t fall off hooks as easily. Hoods just don’t cut it in our closet.

Use hang tags to properly hang coats in a classroom closet

Do you know what a hang tag is? It’s that little strap of fabric at the back of the neckline in a coat. It’s meant for hanging the clothing item.

Avoid the hassle

Here are four more tips that will make your winter months less of a hassle when it comes to getting your kinders dressed and ready for the elements.

Use a visual timer

Use a visual timer when students return from recess. This works for me.

They get a specific amount of time to get undressed, put clothes away, and have shoes in hand (ready for our next thing).

They can put their shoes on, on the whole-group carpet while we get started with the next item on the agenda.

Use name tags

Use name tags to encourage those who bring the requested reusable bag feel special, to label your classroom sets, and to help items get returned to your classroom if ever misplaced in the school.

I’m including name tags in the free printable clothing order list above!

Edify students who dress themselves

Edify students who zip up their own jackets by letting their signature shine on a classroom poster.

This solves students dressing themselves in a matter of 2-3 days! {seriously}

Teach how to tie a scarf in kindergarten

Teach scarf magic! Not sure what that is? It’s my special name for how to tie a scarf in kindergarten.

The name just helps them remember that they have been taught… and makes it feel special when they can do it. Here’s how to teach it:

  1. Hold a scarf in the middle, letting each end hang down.
  2. Grab both ends, placing the scarf behind the neck.
  3. Open hand inside the loop-end to grab and pull the loose ends through.

A scarf “tied” in three steps. Perfect for kinders!


This is how I’ve saved my own sanity during the winter months and avoid losing 20 minutes to winter gear chaos. What tips do you have?

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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  1. Do you still have the students put their boots and snow pants in the same bag, after coming in from outside and everything is soaked?

    1. Most often I did, yes. With boots at the bottom of the bag and snow pants on top. We didn’t have room to hang them or dry them so we had to make due with the space we had and this solution worked really well for us.

  2. Any suggestions for how to store shoes at school when they don’t have lockers? I’m thinking maybe a string tied to binder clips and that string can hang over his coat hooks. Then he has shoes at school and they are off the floor so they’re not in the way for the janitor when cleaning. We feel like it’s a lot to ask our kindergartner to carry all his winter gear, shoes, and backpack everyday, so trying to simplify.

  3. Thank you so much for this! We’re new to Minnesota from the Deep South and I’ve been dreading how to handle winter with three young children that have never had to wear winter gear! We’re going to work on this at home!!

  4. I LOVE this…no one thinks about these things except kindergarten teachers. There is nothing more aggravating than a bad zipper or poorly made winter coat where the cloth ALWAYS gets caught in the zipper…ARGGGHH…no one understands these little problems like the mighty K teachers. Thank you…thank you.

  5. Leslie,
    Years ago I took pictures of my then 5 year old niece getting dressed showing the steps….snowpants, bookts, jacket etc. I then placed each picture into a powerpoint that the students watched and we discussed at the beginning of our snowy season. I also printed to sets of the powerpoint, one set is bound and placed in our classroom library for reading and reviewing and the other set I hang on a line in our hallway whether the children can refer to it while getting dressed. I am lucky each of my children have a locker to store their gear (we took the doors off of them) so getting 18-20 4 year olds ready each day is pretty stressless and they quickly become adept at all the steps, although zippers at time seem to be the skill that takes the longest for them to master. I love the note you send to parents, great things for them to consider when choosing appropriate winter gear.

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