Snow Fun: Lessons in Literacy

Teaching kids about snow has always been fun for me. For the first few years I taught the lessons about snow- we seemingly always had snow come soon. So much so, that my principal at the time asked me to stop teaching them. (He was kidding).  One year we agreed it was "safe" for me to teach- no precip in the forecast/temps 50 or higher, and it was December....but 4 days later, we had a surprise snow that sent us home early the Friday before winter break!

After winter break this year, I capitalized on the cold weather and started reading snow books with my Kinder kids. Instead of the traditional story books, I grabbed all informational texts. We started talking about the different types of books. In the past when we talked about parts of books, it was the spine, page, etc. Now, I added Table of Contents and Index to their understanding. We learned that  that these were books to teach us facts about snow. And we read. And we talked. And they learned. 

Venturing onto Pebblego to read a book about snow brings my favorite part of the readings. There was a page of our digital book with fun facts: 
  • snowflakes could be pink depending on the dust in the cloud they come from
  • snowflakes were made of tiny crystals of ice (between 2 and 200)
  • those little bits of ice were the size of a period! 
The best part? A little video clip of watching a snowflake form... oh how fun to watch their response! 

Fast forward to Wednesday of this week when we received notification that our after school programs would close due to the risk of wintry weather. When my third graders came to media on this day, we started to wonder what was predicted. So, we pulled up our local news report to see the predictions. After understanding what was coming that night,  I showed them that there was a prediction for wintry precip 2 days later. Because we use more than one source when we are learning, we went to 2 other weather websites and saw their forecasts. The kids were surprised that while all 3 said wintry precip, 2 of the websites had significantly more than what our local news was saying. 

We briefly talked about models and predictions. We read the various data on the sites, and understood that the word "slight" went with low percentages and that "likely" came up with more certain percentages.  They all told me they hoped the national forecasts were right- they wanted a lot of snow.  Who knew that 2 hours later we'd be put in a winter weather warning? Who knew the next day would be our last day at school for the week? 

So yesterday, our first snowday, I tweeted out a link to a google form to collect weather observations for our area. I've been gathering snow data from across the area, and hope to gather more today through the storm. Why?  Literacy of a different kind: understanding information and evaluating data. 


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