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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