The snow was lovely for me, arriving on a Friday night after my children were home and enough neighbors were in town to make the shoveling more of a community gathering than a huge chore.
I did wish that school was in session so I could learn what my students would do with 20 inches of snow, an unusual amount for our region and a first for their young lives.
I would have the children measure the snow depth around the playground using a stick and record the depth by drawing the length on paper, scoop snow and build up ramps for sliding mini-sleds (bowls) down, fill a measuring cup full of snow to take inside to see how much water is in one cup of snow, and dig down in the sand pit to see how the snow affected the sand. Would children work long enough to mound snow high enough (on the otherwise flat playground) for themselves to slide down?
Looking to northern regions I found suggestions for snow activities.
- From Wings of Discovery in Ontario Canada, a program developed by Let’s Talk Science to help children develop important skills while having fun exploring the world through science:
- Take a walk in the snow with your child. Look for footprints made by animals and people. Use a field guide to identify them if you wish.
- Bring a dishpan full of snow inside for your child to explore. Talk about how the warm temperature inside causes the snow to melt.
- Fill spray bottles with coloured water to colour outdoor snow sculptures.
- When outside, point out the melting snow or ice and ask your child to tell you why it is melting.
- From Sheri Amsel’s Exploring Nature Educational Resource in New York:
- Where Do Animals Go in Winter? Find information and beautiful scientific illustrations to answer your children’s questions.
- In the December 2009 Science and Children, the Natural Resources column, “Winter Secrets” by Valynda Mayes shares a list of in-print resources.
Speaking of in-print resources, reading aloud a fiction and a nonfiction book on the same day (or even same circle time if student attention allows) can help children relate new information to their own experiences. Try these books.
- Snow and the Earth and Snow and People, both by Nikki Bundey (2000 and 2001, Lerner) which relate how snow is formed and how people live in regions with snow. The photographs support, and expand on, the text.
- It’s Snowing by Olivier Dunrea (2002, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), tells of a mother who shares the joy of a snow fall with a very young child.
- The Big Snow by Berta Hader and Elmer Hader (2005, Alladin). Do you remember this 1949 Caldecott Medal tale of animals coming to the food put out by an older couple? Still in print because it’s so enjoyable.
- First Snow by Emily Arnold McCully (2003, HarperCollins) A mouse family goes sledding in this formerly, now nearly, wordless book with lots of detail in the illustrations to talk about.
- Snow by Manya Stojic (2002, Knopf). Forest animals remark on the coming snow and the various ways they will adapt their behavior to survive it.
- And of course, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats (1962, Viking), in which Peter explores a snowfall and tries to bring a small piece of it home.
So I’m hoping for more snow in January, enough to explore but not enough to close school. And if the children do not come dressed for the weather, I’ll bring the snow inside. How about you? Are you living where the children always come to school with boots, mittens, and hats, or where the only snow people are those made from marshmallows?