“Silently like thoughts that come and go, the snowflakes fall, each one a gem.”
William Hamilton Gibson
Some of us anticipate the first snow of the year, others dread it, and still others live in areas that never experience even one snowfall during the winter. Whatever your situation, now is the time to learn more about the science behind snow and winter weather conditions using some wonderful online resources.
Stock your classroom library with a variety of snow-related titles for both pleasure reading and information. Curriconnects is a TeachersFirst feature providing book lists for many topics. This list includes titles related to Weather, Climate, and Earth’s Atmosphere. Find books suggestions for preschool through young adult on this list including Lexile levels and a book summary.
Find lessons about snow and connect with other educators at the Microsoft Educator Community. This community offers many resources including lessons, connections to other educators, and Skype in the Classroom learning opportunities. A quick search for snow on the site provides a long list of lessons and learning opportunities.
- Go on a virtual field trip with Skype and visit the McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica to learn about research studies of Adelie Penguins. Sign up to book a date for your class to ask questions and interact with research scientists. Other resources on the page include classroom activities, send a postcard to Antarctica, and a link to follow the penguins to learn about individual nests and families.
- Sign up to participate in a Mystery Skype session with another class either nearby or on the other end of the world. Compare and contrast snowfall totals and climate with your Mystery Skype partner.
- Take advantage of popular (and free) lesson plans to learn about snow in diverse locations such as the mountains of Bryce Canyon, Utah or the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China.
Bring art and geometry into your snow lessons with entertaining online snowflake creators. Be forewarned, some are addicting, and it will be hard to walk away!
- Snow Days has one of the most realistic snowflake makers for those of you that like to cut snowflakes from paper. Just click and drag across the virtual paper to cut and create your snowflake. When finished, email your snowflake to a favorite friend.
- Build a Snowflake is another snowflake creator using a different technique. With this tool, users add points (nodes) on the virtual paper to change the look of the snowflake. Watch the sample snowflake for an overview of how to use the snowflake creator.
- Have students try recreating their virtual snowflakes using paper and scissors then hang them in your classroom as a bright, student-created display.
Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek is a Pulitzer Prize award-winning multimedia presentation by the New York Times. This interactive includes video, images, and maps as it explores the reality and science behind an avalanche and the 16 skiers caught in the pounding snow.
- Share this interactive with older students, then have them investigate the phenomenon of avalanches further. Be sure to include research on weather at the time of each event.
- Although this site is best suited for older students (grade 8 and up) to use independently, use portions with younger students to demonstrate the power of snow and the effect of weather conditions to create avalanches.
One event most associated with snow is the Iditarod that takes place in Alaska each February. Learn about the race and the participants through several websites as part of your lessons on snow and climate.
- Follow events leading up to the race, learn about the participants, and keep an eye on the race countdown at the official site for the Iditarod. The site also includes an education portal full of curriculum ideas, news about the Iditarod Teacher on the Trail, and teacher tips and tools.
- Track the weather leading up to and during the race to find out if there is enough snow for running the race safely. Compare Alaska snowfall totals to yours, or if you live in an area that doesn’t receive snow choose a “sister” city to compare and contrast snow totals.
Here are some final ideas to enjoy learning about snow without ever having to leave your classroom:
- Make homemade snow using the directions in this article. Two simple ingredients combine to create the visual look and feel of a snowball.
- Have an in-school snow day using ideas and activities from Snow Crystals. Watch crystals as they grow, discover snowflake science, and learn why snow is white.
Even if you don’t like the cold weather, learning about snow is an enjoyable way to connect weather with any subject. Your most reluctant learners will love the opportunity to discover the joy of snow.
Do you have a favorite website for teaching snow? Or perhaps suggestions for an in-school snow day? We would love to hear all about it, let us know in the comments below.