Monthly Archives: January 2022

Adrienne’s Online Learning Lesson Idea (OLLI) #23 – Snow Similes

I originally created OLLIs (Online Learning Lesson Ideas) when schools first shut down at the start of the pandemic in the spring of 2020.  It’s hard to believe that it is now 2022 and we are STILL enduring the “chaos of Covid” in our schools! While some provinces are continuing “in person” learning, I know there are many districts across Canada who have moved to virtual learning. (Shout out to my teacher friends who are working online at the moment!) These OLLIs can be used both in person and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little with one less lesson to plan!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

OLLIE #17  The Sounds of Snow

OLLIE #18 – Celebrating Women Trail Blazers

OLLIE #19 – The Six Senses of Spring

OLLIE #20 – Thank you, Earth!

OLLI #21 – Mother’s Day Poem

The Inspiration:

Across British Columbia over the past few weeks, particularly in the Lower Mainland and the Interior, we have just experienced an unusually LARGE dump of snow. For those who know me, know I LOVE snow! To me, snow always brings a sense of magic and beauty to the world. While the icy roads may be slick and the shoveling a back-breaking nightmare for many adults, most children associate snow with outdoor fun with family and friends. So why not bring some of that fun into the classroom and use snow to help younger students learn to write similes?

The Anchor:

A Thing Called Snow – Yuval Zommer

Watch YouTube Read-Aloud HERE 

A Thing Called Snow is a charming story of a fox and hare who were born in the spring and have never seen snow. They set about asking various Arctic animal friends what snow is. Each animal, in turn, uses a different simile to describe snow for the two friends: “Snow is white, like your fur.” “Snow is fluffy like your tails.” “Snow is sparkly like your eyes.” “Snow is cold, like your noses.” Lovely story of friendship, community, and snow!

The Lesson:

  • Ask students how many of them enjoyed some time in the snow over the holidays. Model your own “snow story” – sharing something you did in the snow.
  • Invite students to share a snow story with a partner. Invite some to share out with the class.
  • Tell the students to imagine someone who had never seen snow before. How might you describe it to someone?
  • Write the words “Snow is…” on the board. 
  • Invite students to think about how they might finish this sentence. Create a list of describing words, recording their suggestions. (i.e. Cold is: white, cold, fun, slippery, icy, slushy, dangerous, sparkly, beautiful, quiet, wet)
  • Explain that these are called “describing words”. Describing words help to add interesting details when we are talking or writing about something.
  • Tell the students that you are going to read a story about two animals who have never seen snow before. Invite them to listen for the different ways their friends describe the snow.
  • Read the story A Thing Called Snow or share the read-aloud YOUTUBE video.
  • After reading, invite students to recall how each animal described snow. You might need to go back to the pages to review.
  • Record the descriptions on the board or shared screen
    • Snow is white, like your fur.
    • Snow is cold, like your noses.
    • Snow is fluffy, like your tails.
    • Snow is sparkly, like your eyes.
  • Ask students what they notice about the way the animals described snow. (they used the word “like”)
  • Explain that this is a special thing writers sometimes do when they are describing something – they compare it to something else. When they do that, it’s called a simile. You can make similes by thinking of something similar!

Let’s see if we can write our own similes about snow! I might not say “Snow is white, like your fur” because you nobody here has white fur! But let’s try to think of other things that are white. Who can help me?

  • Model a few examples: Snow is white, like eggshells. Snow is white, like marshmallows.
  • Invite the students to try add some other similes.
  • Continue with the other adjectives (cold like… fluffy like… sparkly like…)
  • Invite students to create their own similes – Snow is slushy like a slurpee. Snow is quiet like the night.
  • Pass out SNOW SIMILES template and have students record their similes on the page.

Lesson Extensions

  • Snow Stories are excellent topics for personal narrative writing. I call these retelling of personal experiences “Event Stories” because they are sequential events and most often begin and end within a single day. Students can use this template to sequence their snow stories. Remember to have them fill in box ONE (How did the event start? i.e. I went to the park to play in the snow) and box SIX (How did the event end? i.e. We walked back home) before filling in the sequence of events that occurred in between. For complete lesson, including introducing transition words – see Powerful Writing Structures – pages 60-66.
  • “How to” writing – works very well with snow activities (see Powerful Writing Structures – 95-104) Students can write instructions for “HOW TO” do different snow activities. i.e. How to Make a Snowman (see anchor book below) How to Have a Snowball Fight, How to Make a Snow Angel, How to Make a Snow Fort, How to Toboggan Down a Hill, How to Get Dressed in Winter.

All You Need for a Snowman – Alice Schertle

Additional Anchor Books:

Here are some additional snow books, all of which I recommend for the beautiful descriptive language. Remember to check YouTube for the read-aloud if you don’t have a copy with you. Always choose the author reading their own book, if available!

The Best Winter Themed Picture Books for Kids

When the Snow Falls – Linda Booth Sweeney

Snow – Cynthia Rylant

The Snow Dancer – Addie Boswell

The Best Winter Themed Picture Books for Kids

Winter Dance – Marion Dane Bauer

A Day So Grey Maria Lamba

Winter is Here Kevin Henkes

For more ideas for snow writing, see my blog about the sounds of snow HERE.

Thanks for stopping by, everyone! Stay safe and remember, the most important thing we can give our students during these next few months is CARE, CONNECTIONS, and COMPASSION!

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OLLI #17 – Snow Sounds

I originally created OLLIs when schools in my province of British Columbia shut down last spring due to Covid19.  While we are now back in class, I know there are many districts still juggling virtual and in-class support.  These OLLIs can be used both in class and virtually person.  Either way, I hope you find some ideas that you can use with your students to lighten your load just a little this year!  

Here is a list of the previous OLLI lessons and anchor books in case you missed any of them:

OLLI#1 (The Hike)

OLLI#2. (If I Could Build A School)

OLLIE#3  (Mother’s Day)

OLLI#4 (Everybody Needs a Rock)

OLLI #5 – (WANTED:  Criminals of the Animal Kingdom) 

OLLI #6 – (Up in the Garden and Down in the Dirt)

OLLI #7 (All About Feelings – “Keep it! – Calm it! – Courage it!)  

OLLI #8 (I’m Talking DAD! – lesson for Father’s Day) 

OLLI #9 (Be Happy Right Now!) 

OLLI #10 – (Dusk Explorers)

OLLI#11 (If You Come to Earth)

OLLI #12 (Map of Good Memories)

OLLI #13 (Harvey Slumfenburger)

OLLI #14 (New Year’s Resolutions)

OLLI #15 ( 100 Things That Make Me Happy)

OLLIE #16 (Leaving Our Heartprints) 

THE INSPIRATION:

It doesn’t often snow on the west coast of BC, but this past weekend,  a rare winter storm blew through our neck of the woods.  Likely not a “storm” by East Coast standards, but for people in the lower mainland, even a few centimeters results in a whole lot of snow joy!  Since Covid restrictions have been put in place, there aren’t many opportunities for community gatherings.  This past weekend, however, I think every single person, young and old, two legged and four, emerged from their indoor bubble and ventured outside to walk,  pull or ride a sled, build a snowman, or make a snow angel.  To add to the snow excitement, the stars aligned with the snowfall occurring on Family Day long weekend and Valentine’s day.  Pure magic.  So I thought it best to capture this rare occurrence in this week’s OLLI!  

THE ANCHOR BOOKS:

Ten Ways to Hear Snow – Cathy Camper 

This story follows a girl on a walk to visit her grandma the morning after a big snowfall.  Her grandmother is loosing her sight and Lina is going over to help her make some traditional Lebanese food.  Along the way, she notices various ways to hear the new snow that’s all around her.  I love anchor books you can use for several different lessons. SO many curriculum connections in this book including awareness and attention to nature, onomatopoeia, empathy,  family and cultural traditions, cultural food, and connection to grandparents.  This 2020 release is definitely being added to my Reading Power “connect” list, as well as my Powerful Understanding “SELF” – grandparents and “OTHERS” – empathy.  

  Watch Youtube Read Loud HERE

Snow Sounds – An Onomatopoeic Story – David A. Johnson

Sweep, crunch, swoosh, scrape . . . All night long, snow falls silently, blanketing the world in white—and a creating a very noisy day!    This very simple story is told using only sound words.  A perfect anchor book for teaching onomatopoeia and highlighting the sounds of snow.  

Youtube Read Aloud HERE 

Lesson – Option 1 – The Sounds of Snow

It was hard to choose just one lesson to for this anchor book – it could be used for multiple different purposes.  I decided to focus on the sensory details because I liked the idea of the different sounds of snow. 

  • Ask students what snow fun they experienced over the long weekend.  Invite students to share some of their experiences with a partner or to the whole class.  Don’t forget to share some of your own snow stories! 
  • Reflect on the fact that you had been focusing on snow activities, but that you now wanted to narrow the focus to snow sounds.  Explain that, when you first think about “the sound of snow”, most people might say “Well snow doesn’t make any sound.”  But invite students to think of sounds connected to the activities they just shared.     (ie  Action is sledding – sound is “whoosh!”, action is walking – sound is “crunch!” 
  • Explain that a sound word is not the action but the sound connected to the action.  Depending on your grade level, you can introduce the term onomatopoeia  (when a word describes a sound and actually mimics the sound of the object or action)
  • Invite students to share some of their action-sound connections. Record them on the board or chart stand
  • Tell the students you are going to read a story about a girl who discovers 10 different snow sounds. 
  • Read the anchor book Ten Ways To Hear Snow    YouTube Read Loud HERE 
  • Optional additional anchor book:  Snow Sounds  YouTube Read Aloud HERE 
  • After reading, invite students to add the sound words from the book to your list.  Point out that some of them aren’t actual words but groups of letters that make the sound.  Invite students to add new sound words to the list you started before the story.  
  • Pass out Snow Sounds template and invite students to brainstorm snow “actions” and “sounds” 
  • After their templates are complete, model how to use some of the sounds to write a Snow Sounds poem: 

        Snow Sounds  – A. Gear

         Pssssh! Snow falls gently to the ground

                   Crunch! Crunch!  Boots make noisy tracks

         Beep! Beep! Cars shout at each other

         Wheeeee!  Kids sled down the slippery hill

         Ouch!  Someone falls on the ice. 

         Sccccrrritch! Screept! the shovel clears the sidewalk 

  Option 2 – The Six Senses of Snow       

While the previous lesson focuses on only the sounds of snow, this lesson expands into all of the senses.  It can either be taught by itself or as an extension to the previous lesson.  

  • Ask students what snow fun they experienced over the holiday.  Invite students to share some of their experiences with a partner or with the whole class.  Don’t forget to share some of your own snow stories! 
  • Ask students what the five senses are.  List them on the board or chart stand.  
  • Explain that the five senses are used in science when we are describing how humans receive sensory information.  Explain that the five senses are also used in writing when a writer wants to create a visual image.  Writers often add a 6th sense by adding emotion and feeling into their writing.  
  • Create a 6 box chart on the chart stand or board – label each box with one of the senses, including emotion. 
  • Begin with sight and ask the students to think about what things they saw while outside in the snow.  Brainstorm and record words into one box.  
  • Move to the next box and ask students to think about the sounds of snow.  What sounds do you remember hearing when you were outside in the snow.  Record their ideas in the box.  Depending on your grade level, you may introduce the technical term for a sound word is onomatopoeia. 
  • If you haven’t already read the story, tell the students you are going to read a story about a girl who discovers 10 different snow sounds. 
  • Read the story Ten Ways To Hear Snow  aloud (Youtube Read Loud HERE) or  Snow Sounds – An Onomatopoeic Story  Youtube Read Aloud HERE  
  • Review the sound words from the story.  Add them to The Six Senses of Snow  list
  • Depending on your grade, you can either continue brainstorming the other senses or invite the students to continue independently.  You can download the template “Six Senses of Snow” here
  • These sensory word collections can be used for turning into a short descriptive paragraph or a sensory poem.  
  • For poetry, students can select one idea from each of their senses plan and add details to it:  

  The Six Senses of Snow by A. Gear

I see the snowflakes fall, covering the ground with a blanket of white.

I hear the whoosh of the sled and my sister’s squeals as we fly down the icy hill.  

I taste the cold metal of snow melt on my tongue as it turns into water

I feel the sting of cold, wet mittens on my fingertips

I smell the cold air, crisp and fresh and damp. 

I feel the sadness that the snow won’t last forever.  

Or students can create more of a list poem with their snow senses:

Snow Senses – A. Gear

Snow excites

Snow sprinkles

Snow sparkles

Snow whooshes

Snow crunches

Snow slips

Snow soaks

Snow hurts

Snow sloshes

Snow scrapes

Snow rolls

    Snow whispers 

   Snow sloshes

   Snow melts. 

Other Snow Lessons (see additional snow books below)  

Making Connections 

After the rain and slush have washed the snow away,  our memory pockets remain filled with new snow stories ready to share.  So this week, why not spend some time making connections and capturing those memory pocket snow stories?  Read any of the books listed above or below and invite students to make connections to their snow experiences.  

Visualizing – 

I often use books about seasons and weather when I’m teaching or practicing visualizing.  Choose any of the recommended books below, cover the cover, read the story and invite students to visualize while you read.  Pause after a few pages and invite them to either turn and talk about what they visualize, or they can do “quick pics” on a paper.  

Event Stories – 

Personal narrative stories that retell an event are often how I teach students about transition words. 

  • After reading one of the snow books, invite students to think about their “snow day” activities.  Invite them to list them in order and tell their partner – retelling their day in the snow.   
  • Students can then use a 6 box or 4 box paper to record their day in sequence – ie – got dressed in snow gear, walked to the park, went sledding, fell off the sled, went home, had hot chocolate. 
  • Model adding transitions words to each box – Then, After that, Later on, etc. 
  • This plan can then be used for  re-telling or writing their event stories.   See the full lesson in my Powerful Writing Structures book – page   

Additional Snow Books: 

There are dozens of snow themed books, but for this particular lesson, I wanted to focus on more on realistic “memory pocket” stories of a recent snow fall, rather than the more imaginative “Snowmen at Night” types of stories.  

Snow – Cynthia Rylant 

Youtube Read Aloud Here (story start at 41 seconds)

My Winter City – James Gladstone

 YouTube Read Aloud HERE

So Much Snow! – Robert Munsch

YouTube Read-Aloud Here

Snow – Uri Shulevitz

                                                                              Youtube Read Aloud Here

When Winter Comes – Discovering Wildlife in Our Snowy Woods – Aimee Boissonette

Perfect Snow – Barbara Reid

Youtube Author Read Aloud

Red Sled – Patricia Thomas

Youtube Read Aloud

Blizzard – John Rocco

YouTube Author Read Aloud HERE 

Under and Over the Snow – Kate Messner

I hope you find some snow lessons that inspire you and your students this week!

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