Snowtastic

Ages 3-6

Curator Rebekah K.

Curator Rebekah K.

Why I Created This Guide

I loved snow days when I was a kid. Blizzards in Iowa and Wisconsin reminded me of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s stories of falling snow, drifts, and wind. This is the time of year I enjoy sharing Laura’s story, Little House in the Big Woods. You might enjoy it as a read-aloud with your children. If your younger children cannot listen to entire chapters at a time, simply read for five to ten minutes a day. Snow days, when I was a child, were far more than a day home from school. On snow days, my dad would stay home. We woke up excited knowing a day of playing in the snow, making snowcream, drinking cocoa, reading books, watching movies, building sheet igloos in the living room, and playing Monopoly or CandyLand lay ahead. Who wouldn't love a snow day like that?


Did You Know?

Snow is solid water.
When water vapor, the gas form of water, in a cloud attaches to a piece of something like dust, it makes an ice crystal. When more water in the air freezes to the ice crystal, a snowflake begins to develop. Check out this video from BrainPOP for a short, scientific explanation of the formation of snowflakes and take the quiz to see how much you learned..
Snowflakes are hexagons (six-sided) because molecules of water attach to each other in six-sided rings.
No two snowflakes share the exact design.
Snow falls on all seven continents.
Even though it is the coldest place on earth, it does not snow much in Antarctica.
It snows in some African countries in June and July because countries south of the equator have their winter in June, July, and August.
You can pick up nonfiction books about snow and winter at your local library.

Book Recommendations

There are so many fantastic snowy books that it is difficult to shrink the list of favorites to just a few. As you read and enjoy winter books, make connections with your young readers. Frequently pause to ask, “How are you and this character similar? What things do you both enjoy about snow?” and “What other book or story does this remind us of?” Books have lively conversations with us and with each other. As we read, they talk to us about shared experiences, joys, adventures. Encourage the conversation in your home by talking about the ways different books remind you of each other.

 

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The Snowy Day - Ezra Jack Keats

Peter’s fascination with the snow makes the story interactive for young readers. When adorable Peter turns his toes outward, you can follow his tracks across the page until he turns his toes inward as he crunch, crunch, crunches through the snow. My favorite thread in the story is the quiet suspense of the snowball Peter places in his pocket for later. What will he do with it? What will happen to a snowball in a coat pocket? It is a little mystery in the middle of The Snowy Day. (Zoobean)

 

Before Reading:

Show your child the cover of The Snowy Day and ask, “What would you do on the perfect snowy day?” If you get “I don’t know” as a response ask questions about summer activities. You could ask, “On a cold, snowy day would we go outside and swim in the pool?” or “On a cold, snowy day would we go outside to look for fuzzy  bugs?” If you get yes answers talk about the way cold weather changes the jackets we wear and the outside activities we enjoy. You can wrap it up by saying, “On a cold, snowy day we might not be able to do everything we enjoy in the summer: but, we can do plenty of things with the snow. What would you like to do on the perfect snowy day?” With a little conversation about what your child already knows about snow and seasons, you should soon hear ideas that are related to winter activities.

 

Interactive Reading:

On second or third readings, pause to ask your child what he or she would do if he or she was outside playing with Peter. On the page where Peter pretends to climb a mountain you can say, “Peter is pretending to be a mountain-climber. What do you pretend to do when you are playing in the snow?” On the page where Peter builds a smiling snowman ask, “How do you build a snowman?” Listen to the details your child shares. If you feel he or she is not giving many details ask questions about the process such as, “How do you get the top snowball on top of the snowman’s body?” Wrap up by asking, “What do you and Peter both enjoy?” and “Can you imagine yourself playing with Peter? Tell me about that.”

 

Extend the Story:

Build an indoor snowman with Peter.

What you will need

  • Paper (or felt if you want a reusable activity)

  • Markers

  • Scissors

    (If you do not want to cut much paper or felt, use stamps or stickers)

What to do

  1. Draw snowman shapes in different sizes (an igloo, large snowflake, star, or snowball works, too)

  2. Cut out circles, squares, triangles and any other shapes your child is learning about

  3. Ask your child “How many circles do you think it will take to fill up the snowman?”

  4. Add circles to the snowman’s body to see how many circles are needed to fill him in

  5. Try it again with different shapes and different sizes

  6. Talk about it, “Did we need more triangles than we estimated?” “Did we need fewer circles than we estimated?” and “Why do you think our estimate was different than the actual number of circles we needed?”

  7. With extra shapes, your child can design his or her own snowmen or other winter shapes.

    (If you are using stamps or stickers you can have the same conversations)

 

Ezra Jack Keats has a website for your young reader. On this page, you can go sledding with Peter on your own snowy day. Help Peter collect snowflakes and avoid running into trees. This online game requires only the use of the mouse; but, you can use the keys z, x, and c to do tricks. You can also watch an exciting animated read-aloud of The Snowy Day. You can use the same conversations you would use from Before Reading and Interactive Reading for conversations about the read-aloud.


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The Snowman - Raymond Briggs

The dignified snowman a boy builds during the day visits him that night. Together, they fly through the snowy sky looking down over beautiful cities on a dreamy, snowy night. The next day, the snowman has melted and is gone. (Zoobean)

 

Wordless Picture Book Reading Tip:

On one read through, discuss the organization of The Snowman by identifying the parts, purpose, and organization of the book. For example, point to the front cover and say, “The front cover of the book tells us the title and shows us something about this book. The title of this book is The Snowman. Look at the picture on the front cover. What do you think The Snowman is about?” Give your child time to look at the snowman on the front cover and talk about what he or she sees. If your child has difficulty telling you what he or she sees on the cover, you can point to each feature of the snowman and ask, “What is this?” or “What color is the snowman’s hat?” You can also play “I Spy” by asking, “Can you find the snowman’s nose?” or “How many buttons does the snowman have?” This gives your child some details to talk about when you ask again, “What do you think The Snowman is about?”

Reinforce the organization of the story by following the story with your finger, from left to right and from the top to the bottom of each page.

 

Interactive Reading:

  • If this is your first experience together with wordless picture books, demonstrate how you imagine the dialogue and narration. Then explain that you are imagining what the boy and the snowman are saying to each other. For example, point to the frame where the boy steps outside during the night and the snowman tips his hat to the boy. Here you could say, “I imagine that the snowman is saying, ‘Brrr! It is cold outside.’”
  • Build a theme by focusing on magic, friendship, imagination, or any other theme that inspires you. For example, “The snow tonight is magical.”
  • On later pages, ask your child to add to the dialogue or narration. Begin by asking, “If you were this child, what would you say in this picture?” or “Tell me a story about this picture.”
  • On later readings, talk about the motives of the characters by asking your child, “Why do you suppose the boy went outside?” or “Why does the snowman take the boy with him?” and “What does the boy learn from the snowman?”
  • If you record your child’s imaginative narration and dialogue you can compare his or her storytelling over time to see growth in vocabulary, skills in observing details, and in storytelling.

 

Extend the Story:

After you and your child have narrated The Snowman on your own, watch an animated version that has been set to music.  Before viewing, ask your child, “What music do you hear when we open The Snowman? Is it loud, exciting music in the middle of the night? Or, is it quiet music in the middle of the night?”  After watching an animated version of The Snowman, ask your child, “You thought the music would be loud and exciting in the middle of the night as snow fell. Is this similar to the music you thought this story would have?” and “Does this music sound good with the snow and the night?” If not, ask, “How would you change the music?” Play the music your child would use instead as you both enjoy The Snowman again, either the book version or the animated version on mute.

 

Draw the Sequel:

What you will need:

  • Paper

  • Pencils / Crayons/ Markers

What to do:

  1. Ask your child questions and record his or her responses to some of the following questions:

    • How does the boy feel in the last picture?

    • What happens next? For instance, the next day or the next season

    • Who will be part of their story?

    • What will he do? What action words will we use to describe this?

    • Where will the characters go on their next adventure? What will they do and what will it look like?

  2. Ask your child to draw the next part of the story, then explore both the original and your sequel together.

  3. Feel free to encourage your child to include himself or herself in the sequel. This builds on the conversation he or she is having with the story. You can start by asking, “What would you feel or imagine if you were in this picture?”


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Snow - Cynthia Rylant

Rylant  shares the delight of silent snow and fat, cheerful snow. Our main character revels in the fun of making snow angels, sledding, and returning home to enjoy a warm drink. I love the way she encourages us to savor the fleeting phenomenon of snow. (School Library Journal / Zoobean)

 

Before Reading:

Show your child the front cover of the book, share the title, then ask your child to imagine what will happen in the book by saying, “If this were you on the cover, what would you do in this book?”

Restate your child’s main ideas. For example, “You would go sledding and build a snowman. Let’s see if this child will do the same thing you would do.”

 

Interactive Reading:

As you read, stop occasionally to ask your child, “Was sledding something you said you would do if you were in this book?” If so, say, “That is one way you and this character are similar.” If not, ask, “You didn’t say you would catch flakes on your tongue if you were in the book; but, would you like to catch wet flakes on your tongue?”

 

Extend the Story:

Flake Catcher

What you will need:

  • Black or dark blue construction paper

  • A magnifying glass

  • A snowfall

  • Your nature journal

What to do:

  1. Store sheets of construction paper in the freezer.

  2. Give your child a sheet and send him or her outside to catch some flakes.

  3. When the paper is filled, study the snowflakes. Begin by asking your child, “What do you see when you look at these snowflakes?” and “Do you suppose we could see the details better if the snowflakes were larger?” Introduce the magnifying glass and explain that, “A magnifying glass helps us to see the details by making the snowflakes look larger.”

  4. Discuss the different snowflake patterns. For example, you might ask your child, “What patterns do you see?” “How many points does this snowflake have?”  and “Are the left and right sides of the snowflake similar or different? When we see similar patterns on the left and right sides, we call the snowflakes symmetrical. Symmetrical means both sides are similar.”

  5. Give your child time to draw the patterns of the snowflakes in a nature journal, and help him or her record observations.  

Source: Scholastic.com


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Related Read-Aloud Story

For a related read-aloud story, consider Snowflake Bentley  by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. Wilson Bentley used his camera to record the wonder of tiny ice crystals. Bentley’s work taught us that no two snowflakes are alike. (Zoobean)

 

Before Reading:

Ask your child, “What do you think you would see if you were able to take a picture of a snowflake? What do you think the snowflake would look like?” Prompt him or her for more description with questions like, “Would the edges be straight or pointy?” and “What shapes do you think you would see?” Invite your child to draw a few snowflakes to see if you can match your imaginary snowflakes with any of the pictures in Snowflake Bentley.

 

Interactive Reading:

As you read the story of Snowflake Bentley, look at the pictures to see if you can find any snowflakes that look like the snowflakes you and your child expected to see in a picture of a snowflake. How many matches can you find to the pictures you drew?

When you find a match ask, “How close is this snowflake to the snowflake you drew?” “What is similar?” and “How are the snowflakes different?”

 

Extend the Reading:

Play Match the Flakes on the official Snowflake Bentley website. This online game gives you a chance to view Mr. Bentley’s snowflake photographs and to match them. As you play, take time to view the details of the snowflakes and see if any are similar to the snowflakes you and your child drew before reading Snowflake Bentley.


Snow by Uri Shulevitz (ages 3-5)

"It's snowing,” said boy with dog.

"It's only a snowflake," said grandfather with beard.

While everyone else agrees with grandfather, even the weather forecasters, the boy is sure the snow will be spectacular. The boy, his dog, and the characters from the “Mother Goose Bookstore” enjoy the snow in their snowy city. I enjoy using Snow to introduce weather forecasting. (Zoobean)

Before Reading:

Ask your child, “How do we know when it will snow?” In addition to the weather forecast, there are signs in the winter sky that snow is coming. Ask your child, “What does the air feel like before it snows?” and “What does the sky look like before it snows? Is the sky bright and sunny or is it grey? Are the clouds high in the air or low where we can see them easily?”
If snow is on its way, observe the sky looking for cirrus and cirrostratus clouds and a halo around the sun or moon, a tell-tale sign that there are ice crystals in the clouds acting as prisms to reflect the light.

Use an app, like "Type of Clouds", to identify and read about the basic cloud formations you and your child are looking at in the sky. While this app is designed for your use, you and your child will be able to identify common clouds and watch time lapse video of clouds moving across the sky. I like that the descriptions of clouds are simple enough to understand. Google Play has a similar app called "Cloud Atlas" without the videos.

 

Extend the Story with a Weather Gauge

What you will need

  • A ruler and tape

  • An empty container

  • Your nature journal

What to do

  1. Introduce the weather gauge by asking your child, “How will we know how much snow will fall tonight while we are asleep or today while we are at work and school?”

  2. Listen as your child shares his or her ideas about how to measure the snowfall

  3. Ask what dishes in the kitchen can be used to catch the snow as it falls: a bucket, jar, can

  4. Ask what item around the house can be used to measure how much snow falls in the bucket: string that can be taken out and measured, a stick, a ruler

  5. Tape the ruler to the inside wall of the container

  6. Set the container in an open place

  7. Ask your child, “Will we collect more snow or less snow if we put the container under a tree?” Point out that the tree will catch some of the snow

  8. Create a four-column chart in your nature journal and label the columns 1) date, 2) prediction, 3) estimation, and 4) snowfall

  9. Ask your child, “How much snow do you predict we will get today?” Record the date and predictions in the four-column chart

  10. After the snowfall look out the window and try to estimate how much snow fell and record the estimation in the estimation column

  11. Check the ruler to see how many inches of snow fell and record the snowfall in the snowfall column of your chart

  12. Afterward ask, “How close were our predictions, estimations, and the snowfall?” Show your child your work as you subtract the actual snowfall from the prediction or the prediction from the actual snowfall and discuss how many fewer or more inches of snow fell than the prediction and the estimation

Source: Scholastic.com


Big Snow by Jonathan Bean  

This is a great book and a terrific example of "incidental ethnicity."  It's been in our bedtime rotation for a couple weeks.  Mary K., Zoobean Curator  

Our character is waiting, waiting, waiting for the big snow so he helps his mother around the house. An imagination comes in handy for pretending chores are snow adventures and for prompting naptime dreams of snow. (Zoobean)


Extend the Story

What will we do on a cold, winter day?

1. Make Snowflakes

You can use an app, like "Snowflake Station" to cut digital snowflakes or make paper snowflakes. As you make snowflakes, talk about symmetry. Explain to your child that symmetry is the word we use to describe both the left and right side of an item being the same as, or very similar to, each other.

What you will need for paper snowflakes

  • Paper

  • Pencil

  • Scissors (safe scissors for young children)

What to do

  1. Follow the steps in this instructables or in this youtube video

  2. After folding the paper, your young children can draw lines to show you where to cut if they are too young to use child-safe scissors

  3. Hang snowflakes from the ceiling, in the window, or on the wall

 

2. Design Q-tips

Create Q-tip snowflakes with these easy-to-follow instructions from Playdough to Plato.

A busy bag like this helps strengthen fine motor skills, develop an eye for translating two-dimensional drawings into 3-dimensional designs, and gives your child a little learning quiet time. Invite your child to create his or her own snowflake designs with Q-tips. You really don’t need to do a lot of directing with this activity because it allows your child to just enjoy the designs.

Source: Playdough to Plato

Source: Playdough to Plato

 

3. Ice and Snow Play

Best of Orlando has some “cool” ice play ideas.

What you will need:

  • Water bottles

  • A place for ice play

  • Freezer

What to do:

  1. Lay water bottles on their side in the freezer for 2 to 2-1/2 hours

  2. Follow the easy directions in their video for turning the water into slush

  3. Play in your home-made snow

  4. Talk about the temperature and texture of the slush you have made

 

4. Paint the Snow

When the temperatures and snowfall allow time for outdoor play, head outside to paint the snow.

What you will need:

  • Squirt and squeeze bottles

  • Food coloring, koolaid powder, or other coloring

What to do:

  1. Mix dyes with water

  2. Squirt designs and make pictures in the snow

 

5. Snow Experiment

Source: Pleasantestthing

Source: Pleasantestthing

For a snowy experiment, you will need the following:

  • 3 bowls or sandwich bags

  • 3 Snowballs

  • Your Nature Journal

Talk About It:

  • Use and explain science vocabulary, such as observation / observe, estimate, hypothesis, conclusion / conclude, solid, and liquid as you talk about snow.

  • Ask your child, “What is snow made out of?” Record his or her thoughts in the nature journal and allow time for drawing.

  • Place a snowball in each container.

  • Place one container in the freezer, one in the refrigerator, and one on the countertop.

  • Ask your child which location is warmer and to estimate how long it will take the snow to melt in each of the three locations. Record estimates in your nature journal.

  • For each location, record the time you began observing the snow in the nature journal.

  • Check on the snowballs every 30-60 minutes, ask your child, “What changes do you see in the snow?” and “We estimated that it will take ______ minutes for the snow to melt. Do we need to change our estimate?”

  • Continue checking on the snowballs until the snow on the countertop has melted, record the amount of time it took to melt. Then ask, “How close was our estimate?” and “Do you think we need to change our estimates for the snow in the refrigerator or the freeze?”

  • After the snow has melted talk about what is left in the bowl. You should see water and some dirt or sediment in the bottom of the bowl. Ask, “What do you see?” and “What does that tell you about what snow is made of?” If your child is unable to make observations about the solid and liquid forms of water you can begin by asking, “What did the snow look like it was made out of when we picked it up?” Give your child time to think and share his or her observations before asking, “Now, what does our snow look like it is made of?” Wrong answers are okay, they give you a chance to share your observations by saying, “When I look at the liquid in our bowl, it looks like water. This helps me to know that snow is water that is solid.”

  • Over the next few hours as you check on the snow in the refrigerator and freezer, talk about the estimated time it will take to melt.

  • When the snow in the refrigerator has melted, record the amount of time it took to melt and talk about the estimated time to melt and about what is left in the bowl.

  • Ask your child, “Which snow melted faster?” “Is this what we estimated?” and “How was our estimate different from the amount of time it took to melt?”

  • “What do we know about snow now?”

  • At some point, your child should realize that the snow in the freezer is frozen. If your child is too young to realize this, explain that the snowball in the freezer will stay frozen because the freezer is so cold.  

Source: Adapted from The Pleasantest Thing

 

6. Make your own reading igloo.

What you will need

  • A blanket or sheet

  • Rubber bands or other way to hold the corner to the chairs

  • A couple of chairs

What to do

  1. Turn chairs back-to-back and drape the blanket over the backs of the chairs

  2. Bunch corners around the chair back and use rubber bands to hold the corners

  3. Climb in and read a few good books

  4. Enjoy a winter-y game, like “Don’t Break the Ice”

  

 

7. Movie Night or Movie Afternoon

Watch a winter movie, like “Frosty, the Snowman” or “Happy Feet” with some healthy snacks. Try everything you need to give a snowman a face, a carrot, raisins or grapes, and a fruit leather scarf.


8. Read Some Poetry

A lonely sparrow

Hops upon the snow and prints

Sets of maple leaves.

 

Squeals of children

Tumble down the snowy hill.

Spring still far away.

(Source: Flower, Moon, Snow: A Book of Haiku by Kazue Mizumura)

 

Five Little Snowflakes

Five Little Snowflakes dancing here and there

One blew away in the cold winter air (throw into the air)

 

Four Little Snowflakes dancing here and there

One blew away in the cold winter air

 

Three Little Snowflakes dancing here and there

One blew away in the cold winter air

 

Two Little Snowflakes dancing here and there

One blew away in the cold winter air

 

One Little Snowflake dancing here and there

It blew away in the cold winter air

 

Zero little snowflakes none to be found

Because five little snowflakes have fallen to the ground.

(Source: Preschool Learning Online)


The weather man says it will snow and Lola has bunches of questions.

Before watching, ask your child, “What questions do we have about snow?” If your child has difficulty thinking of any questions, you can trade places and ask him or her questions. For example, you could ask, “What is snow?” “Is snow big or small?” “Where does it snow?” etc. After you have shared questions, you can introduce this Charlie and Lola episode by saying, “Lola has lots of questions, too. Let’s see if Charlie and Lola can answer any of our questions.”

Extend viewing by discussing which of your questions were answered and what the answers were. For example, you can say, “We wondered where snow falls. Did Charlie and Lola tell us about where snow falls?” or “We wondered why it only snows in the winter. Did Charlie and Lola explain why it doesn’t snow all year long?” and “What did we learn from Charlie and Lola that we had not asked questions about?” Wrap up the conversation by reviewing what you learned from Charlie and Lola.
 

The Tale of a Snowflake

Learn about the water cycle.

Before using this app explain to your child that water can be solid (in a shape), liquid (moves around freely), and vapor or gas (so small that we cannot see it in the air). Ask your child, “How does water change from liquid to solid?” or “How does water change from vapor into liquid?” Explain that this app will show us how water changes.

As you read use the in app definitions of vocabulary words to help your child understand the new words he or she is learning.

After using this app review what you have learned about evaporation, condensation, and precipitation. Remind your child what you knew or understood before using the app, then ask, “What did we learn about the way water changes from solid to liquid?” or “How did our thinking change about the way water changes?”

Continue using the vocabulary learned in the app, such as liquid, solid, vapor or gas, condensation, precipitation, evaporation, molecule.


About Rebekah K.

An insomniac since 1979, Rebekah has filled her nights with books & history. Rebekah's earliest memories are of watching documentaries, reading books, and playing Candy Land late at night with her dad. Is it any wonder that she doesn't consider being a librarian and teacher a job? During her fifteen years, in college and K-12 libraries and 10 years in English, ESL, and History classrooms, she has spent her days talking about books and history, sometimes at the same time. Rebekah says, "I love pairing readers with books that are a perfect fit. I feel like I have won a war when a reluctant reader returns to tell me they hated reading; but, after reading a book I recommended, they stay up with a flashlight to read until the page is blurry."

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