We love the snow, which is a good thing, considering we live in Pennsylvania and get a good deal each year. And while snow is an excellent opportunity to relax with hot chocolate by the fire, we all know that with kids, relaxing on a snowy day isn’t likely to last too long. As friends in the mid-Atlantic who are on their 5th snow day in a row are realizing, it’s helpful to have a “snow plan” in place to entertain your children and give them opportunities to learn throughout the day.
Snow-Themed Mentor Texts: Using books to enhance activities
There are countless snow-related picture books to have on hand for snow days. One of our favorites is the 1999 Caldecott Honor Book, Snow by Uri Shulevitz, which blends rhyme, descriptive words, images, and a simple, repetitive story—all perfect for beginning readers to decode. Another, Lois Ehlert’s Snowballs, offers an excellent opportunity for a creative, mixed media activity, as well as descriptive, narrative story-telling and writing. (See my example of how we used Snowballs as a Mentor Text.) Over and Under Snow, by Kate Messner, offers an opportunity to learn about observing nature, hibernation, and voice and style in writing.
Predictions and Hypothesis
A few years ago, after we saw a few surprising flakes that weather.com didn’t predict, we returned to Snow and discussed predictions and hypotheses, introducing the concept to our youngest and revisiting it for our older children.
Then, we made a few hypotheses of our own.
Measurement and Graphing
Snow is a great learning tool for measurement and graphing. Using a ruler, one can measure the snow to see how much accumulates by sticking the ruler straight down into the snow. If the ruler has both inches and centimeters, it offers an opportunity to discuss the two different means of measurement.
If you measure throughout a snow storm, record your measurements and create a snowgraph.
Painting in the snow
While playing in the snow, mix water and a few drops of food coloring in a cup and paint the snow. We enjoy painting rhyming words or pictures with words. Take pictures of your masterpiece before it melts away! (Which we, sadly, didn’t do.)
Snowman building is another great opportunity for learning. It’s always fun to estimate the size of your snowballs before you measure them—which reflects on the prediction and hypothesis discussion from earlier. Take your snow ruler and measure the snowballs’ diameters (distance from one side of the circle to the other). Then discuss ways that one can measure the circumference (distance around the circle at the widest spot) and measure:
- Roll the snowball one full rotation, marking the starting and stopping spots, and measure the distance rolled with a ruler. (A measuring tape will work well.)
- Use a large string or rope and wrap it around the snowball. Tie a knot in, or cut, the string when it meets the beginning, then measure the string.
- Compare measurements; they should be the same. If they aren’t the same, discuss what problems may have occurred in your measurements.
Create a snowman story or song
After you’ve completed your snowman, give him a creative name. Sing “Frosty the Snowman” and change the words to give your own Snowman a story, or create a family for the Snowman.
Write about the snow
When it’s time to go back inside, the learning isn’t finished. Check your hypotheses and discuss learning from being correct or incorrect.
Next, as you’re sitting with your hot chocolate, brainstorm words that describe snow and write a poem about the snow, or draw pictures to remember your day and write descriptive sentences, paragraphs or stories about your memories or use memories as a starting point to create fictional narratives.
Feature image courtesy of Evgeni Dinev / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.
© 2016, Julie Meyers Pron. All rights reserved.