if you’re in new jersey like us, you might have enjoyed your first real snow day this week. at the first sign of snow, we jump on the chance to pull out two snow-related books. below, we’ll share a few quick ways you might use them in your classroom.
snow day! by lester laminack is a perfect one to read on a missed snow day. you know, the day that everyone was anticipating as a snow day, but you ended up in school nonetheless. it can also fit after a real snow day or when you’re at school as the snow is starting and the class is hoping to get called home.
this book is written from the perspective of the dad, a teacher, who’s hoping for the snow day, but you only realize that he’s been telling the story when you reach the book’s ending. our fourth graders are always surprised by the ending, when they realize it was the dad speaking all along, and it’s funny for them to think of the teacher being the one hoping for the snow day (#reallife) rather than the kids, which is the assumption as the story’s read.
this is a book that’s just fun to read as just a read aloud to listen to and enjoy, but you could do close reading work by going back to reread and see how the text and the pictures work together to give the reader clues that the narrator is the dad.
lester laminack is not only a children’s author, but also an educator and teacher of teachers, so his writing is full of craft moves that can be studied and mimicked in our own writing. once snow day! has been read for fun, it can become a mentor text for students writing any type of narrative. some might enjoy using it as a mentor specifically for surprise endings.
snow by cynthia rylant (another well-loved author in our room) is just so beautiful and full of imagery, as is all of her writing. our favorite time to pull this book out is when it snows for the first time when we’re in our classroom.
we’ll invite the students to bring their writer’s notebooks to the carpet to hear the story read aloud. as we read, we’ll ask them to make a list of “lines they wish they’d written,” and give them chances to share the lines they write down – either with a partner or into the silence of our classroom once the story is finished so that the golden lines fill our room like a symphony.
after we finish the story, we’ll ask our students to find a spot by a window (or move to somewhere in the school that has more window access so that everyone’s able to see) and have them write down words or phrases to describe the snow falling or what they see outside as the snow falls. since we’ve done work mimicking mentor texts, we’ll also suggest that students try to use the lines they wrote down from snow to see if there’s a way that they might inspire their own writing.
later that day or for homework that night or during writing workshop the following day, we’ll give students a chance to use the descriptive list they made in some kind of writing. some might choose to write a poem from their list, maybe using the list exactly as it is in parts or a different order, to create a list poem. others might use one single word or phrase from their list and have that inspire a new poem. still others might write a narrative, and have lines from their list appear in the narrative somewhere.
we love these two books because they allow us to do work that fits within our reading and writing workshop while still honoring the fun that comes with snow, and allows us to be responsive to the energy that the snow creates in our classroom.
what are your favorite snow-related read aloud and writing activities? we’d love to hear!