By Lani Aquino
Whether school is in session in a snow-producing location or a tropical destination, the topic of snowflakes and snow is perfect for the winter months. With each snowflake being unique, there is so much exploration and discovery available in studying this seasonal precipitation. There are lots of quality lessons and ideas that can make the study of snow warm and engaging for learners of various ages.
In the hands of a teacher, snow and all of its accompaniments can add some fun to learning. No matter which subject is being covered, utilizing the theme of snow is a timely way to add some engagement. There are hosts of resources out there for the choosing, and these are some top picks by subject.
Data & Graphing- Scholastic’s Winter Math & Science Activities shares a host of great ideas. For data study and graphing, students can use cotton balls as their snowballs. Each student should aim at a target and throw a cotton ball 20 times, recording the proximity of hitting the target after each throw. Once the data for 20 tosses is collected, students can use the information to determine ratio, fractions, decimals, and percentages. Mean, median, and mode can also be determined.
Paper Snowflakes- The creation of snowflakes is a great fine-motor activity for younger students, and it is a perfect way to study geometry and angle measurement with older kids. Students can use protractors to make precise folds in creating succinct designs.
Fractal Snowflakes- Based on the Koch Snowflake concept, this lesson in fractal study allows students to explore lines, angles, and shapes. The construction of a 2-D snowflake helps students learn about fractals and geometry.
Friction Study- This Avalanche lesson from Discovery Education is a perfect hands-on way to study friction. Students will create an avalanche using a variety of materials (e.g., old textbook, plastic bags, newspaper, marbles, sand) and conduct multiple simulations while recording conditions. The usage of different lubricants when creating the avalanche will offer great discussion of friction. Students can be tasked with building an argument for an avalanche safeguard.
Making Snow- There are a variety of ways to make snow in the classroom. ThoughtCo shares 12 projects for making snow/ice. Water and pressure can be used to make real snow, fake snow can be created with minimal materials, Borax snowflakes can be grown, and more.
Snow Science Art- Adding some art to science is easy to do when the subject is snow. This lesson from Kinder Art has students using different paper (e.g., black construction, white glossy, white construction) and substances (e.g., alum, Epsom salt, light salt, and sugar) mixed with water to design snow crystal drawings. Predictions as to the best combinations can be made and discussions about snow being devised of crystals can be had.
Snow Search- Students can use an Earth image database to locate snow. This is an excellent way to work on geography and map location skills with a scientific link to studying the weather.
Google Expeditions- Take a trip to the Antarctic and allow students to explore the geography and indigenous animals. This Antarctic Expedition lets students view the landscape via VR on the Google Expeditions app.
Snow & Industry- Delve into how snow affects industry. Have students research careers and businesses that depend on snow and how the variability of weather patterns can affect the economy in particular locations.
Creative Writing- Eric Carle’s Dream Snow can be used to help students add detail to writing. After reading the book, students can create their own versions. Have each student select five items to cover in snow and then write the descriptors of each. Students can draw their selected items and cover them with painted white transparencies. After reading their descriptions aloud, classmates can try to guess what will be revealed under the snow.
Snow Books- Gift of Curiosity shares 20+ books about snow. With a variety of reading levels and a mixture of fiction and nonfiction texts, there is sure to be something on the list for every student and some great ideas for adding some wintry fun for whole class or individual reading time.
Snowball Toss- The chance to throw snowballs in class will be well received by many. There are numerous varieties of this concept that can be used. As a vocabulary review, students write the term on one paper and its definition on another. After the snowball toss ensues, students open a paper and must find their vocabulary counterpart. If students are starting a new semester course, this can also be used as an icebreaker activity where each student writes down 3 facts about themselves, wads the paper, and tosses it. Students must find the person whose name should be on the paper they unrumpled. This would also be a fun way to review qualities of characters from a novel/story being studied.
If you give a teacher a snowflake, there sure is a lot of learning that can result. Whether it’s a whole unit or a singular lesson, there are a wide variety of ways to bring some seasonal flair to the classroom. Snow can be a key cross-curricular resource for getting students excited about core subjects and more.
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