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Homeschooling Resources: Let It Snow!

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Homeschooling Resources: Let It Snow!

BY REBECCA RUPP

Got snow? Whether you do or not, it’s fun stuff. Check out these books and resources – and included, for those who don’t, are sources for making your very own snow.

snow Ezra Jack Keats’s 1963 Caldecott-Medal-winning The Snowy Day (Viking Juvenile, 2011) is a beloved classic about a child’s delight in new snow: a little boy in a coat with a pointy hood makes the first tracks in fallen snow, knocks snow off the tree branches, and makes a snow angel. For ages 2-7.

In Uri Shulevitz’s beautiful picture book Snow (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux, 2012), nobody believes it’s snowing – certainly not all the skeptical and grumpy grown-ups – but a little boy and his dog spot one flake, then two, and soon the entire city has been transformed into a wonderful snowscape. For ages 3-6.

In Lauren Child’s Snow is My Favorite and My Best (Dial, 2006) – starring Charlie and his irrepressible little sister Lola – the first snow of winter has finally fallen and Lola is thrilled. She and her brother share a wonderful winter day of sledding and snowman-building – until the snow melts, leaving Lola devastated. Charlie, however, wisely saves the day, explaining that – while snow is special – there would be disadvantages to having snow every day. For ages 4-7.

Cynthia Rylant’s Snow (Harcourt Children’s Books, 2008), with enchanting illustrations by Lauren Stringer, is a lyrical celebration of snow – some “comes softly in the night, like a shy friend afraid to knock”  – complete with snow angels, sledding, lacy tree branches, and a night walk. For ages 4-8.

David A. Johnson’s beautifully illustrated Snow Sound: An Onomatopoeic Story (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) is written entirely in onomatopoeia, from the first scenes of a little boy asleep in bed with his cat {“snore” and “purr”) to the sound of falling snowflakes (“peth peth peth”) to the noisy arrival of the snowplow (“crash crush clank”). For ages 4-7, all of whom will love learning the word “onomatopoeia.”

Jack Prelutsky’s It’s Snowing! It’s Snowing! (HarperCollins, 2006) is an illustrated collection of sixteen snowy poems, among them “Winter Signs,” “My Sister Would Never Throw Snowballs at Butterflies,” and “The Snowman’s Lament.” For ages 4-9.

Learn about Snow

In Carol Fenner’s Snowed In with Grandmother Silk (Puffin, 2005), young Ruddy has to deal with a lot of snow. Sent to stay with his aloof grandmother while his parents go on a cruise, Ruddy is lonely and unhappy until a snowstorm strikes, cutting off the power, closing the roads, and leaving him and his grandmother to fend for themselves. They cope by fetching water from the lake, inventing makeshift meals, burning fires to keep warm, playing chess together in the long dark evenings – and all the while learning to appreciate, enjoy, and love each other. For ages 7-9.

The Katy of Virginia Lee Burton’s Katy and the Big Snow (Sandpiper, 1974) is an indomitable little snowplow, busily saving the stranded citizens of Geopolis, whose streets have been buried by a blizzard. (This one is also nice for reinforcing early map skills, since the illustrations include wonderful little picture maps of the town, showing Katy’s route through the streets.) For ages 4-8.

Build a snowplow! Engineering by Design is a terrific 150-page collection of Lego-based lessons and projects for early-elementary-level kids, among them building a snowplow. Included are illustrations, instructions, student worksheets, and reading suggestions.

Family Literacy Lesson Plans has activities and projects to accompany Katy and the Big Snow. Among these are a map project, instructions and suggestions for making a personal book about your town, and directions for a make-your-own-game with printable pieces.

There are many available editions of Hans Christian Andersen’s story “The Snow Queen,” in which young Kay – with a fragment of the devil’s mirror in his eye – is taken away by the cruel but beautiful Snow Queen to a land of snow and ice, and his faithful friend Gerda takes a perilous journey to rescue him. One wonderful picture-book retelling is Amy Ehrlich’s The Snow Queen (Dutton Juvenile, 2006), with illustrations by Susan Jeffers.

At Sur la Lune Fairytales, The Annotated Snow Queen has an annotated text of the original tale, a gallery of illustrations, a list of alternative interpretations, and more.

Anne Ursu’s Breadcrumbs (Walden Pond Press, 2011) is a creative take on Andersen’s Snow Queen, set in Minnesota, where Hazel’s friend Jack is stolen by an evil woman in a sleigh, and Hazel braves the woods, now populated by Andersen fairy-tale characters, to get him back. For ages 8-12.

Lois Ehlert’s wonderful collage-illustrated picture book Snowballs (Harcourt Brace, 1995) is packed with creative ideas for making and decorating snow animals and people – and includes a recipe for popcorn-ball snowmen for those who lack enough real live snow. For ages 4-8.

From Mathwire, Snowman Math has instructions for interactive math-based activities for elementary-level students with printable activity and game sheets. Included are counting, skip counting, and pattern-making exercises (with snowmen), a Frosty Estimation Station, snowman graphing ideas, instructions for an addition-fact “Last Snowman Standing” game, and more.

Franklyn Branley’s Snow is Falling (HarperCollins, 2000) in the Let’s-Read-and-Find-Out Science Series is a simple explanation of what snow is, where it comes from, and how it can be both good (keeps some things warm) and bad (avalanches). Included are a couple of simple experiments. For ages 4-7.

Neil Waldman’s The Snowflake: A Water Cycle Story (Millbrook Press, 2003) is the gorgeously illustrated story of the travels of a single drop of water month by month throughout the year, beginning in chilly January with a snowflake. The next time you throw a snowball, stop and think, the author urges: that water may have tumbled over Niagara Falls, been trapped in a glacier at the North Pole, or guzzled by a thirsty dinosaur. For ages 5-9.

Mark Cassino’s The Story of Snow (Chronicle Books, 2009) is a well-designed explanation of the science of snowflakes, illustrated with diagrams and photographs. Included are instructions for catching and studying your own snow crystals. For ages 5-10.

Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley (Sandpiper, 2009), illustrated with beautiful woodcut prints by Mary Azarian, is the story of Wilson Bentley of Jericho, Vermont, a pioneer in the study of snowflakes, famed for his beautiful photographs of snow crystals taken through a microscope. For ages 4-9.

From Cal Tech, Snow Crystals may be the best snow science site on the web. Included are a history of snow crystal studies, information on physics of snowflake formation, a guide to snowflake classification, snowflake activities for all ages, galleries of snowflake photos, and more.

Maxine Anderson’s activity-laden Explore Winter! 25 Great Ways to Learn About Winter (Nomad Press, 2007) covers why we have winter in the first place, various ways of coping with it when it arrives (from hibernation to migration to camouflage), and all the scientific specifics of cold weather, snow, and ice. Sample projects: kids build a hibernation den and construct a pair of (cardboard) snowshoes, use cut-out animals for a “Sneak Camouflage Peek,” grow crystals, make snowflake models and preserve captured snowflakes, determine the water content of snow, and build a weather-predictive barometer. For ages 6-10.

From Discover magazine, 20 Things You Didn’t Know About Snow is a fascinating (and surprising) list. Learn about watermelon snow, the world’s biggest snowflake, and how snow can (literally) drive you nuts.

Make Your Own Snow!

No snow of your own? From Steve Spangler, a packet of Instant Snow Powder ($4.99) makes three fluffy quarts of (fake, but cool) snow. Learn all about it here.

The video Make It Snow: Incredible Science demonstrates how to make an amazing batch of snow at home in the kitchen using simple ingredients, a brown paper bag, and a microwave.

Paper Snowflakes has printable patterns and instructions for making dozens of creative snowflakes.

See here for instructions for making your own snow paint. The recipe calls for white glue and shaving cream; the result is a thick fluffy white paint that looks like snow. Great for snowman pictures.

And for much more on snow, including Norse myths, Michelangelo’s snowman, a snow globe lab, and a mathematical snow sculpture contest, see LET IT SNOW! at http://rebeccaruppresources.com.

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