Friday, January 25, 2013

Room 120's Snowy Day

Recently, I saw this terrific writing project that my teaching buddy/ neighbor did with her first graders.  I immediately went to TpT and  purchased the item by Laurie Gibbons (get it by clicking here) and was not disappointed in the results.  I had to share what my talented firsties created all inspired by our first heavy snow of the season.  Look at this view from our classroom window.  How could we not take advantage of this teachable moment?  Shh!  No core program today.

This week long writing workshop began with a shared reading experience.  Students had copies of the Caldecott Award winner, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats.  I'm very fortunate to have an ENO board in my classroom, so I played the book's actually snowed on the screen.  My firsties enjoyed the book and noted some of their favorite snow words from the text such as "crunch," "plop," "deep" and "heaping."  I love talking about an author's craft and word choice so that my young writers can be inspired to use similar descriptive language.  It's so important to me that they know what author's do, and that they see themselves as authors.

After enjoying the book, I tied in comprehension of course.  I used the provided organizer that asked students to record what Peter did in the snow.  We referred to the text to make sure we were remembering all the details  (my readers are trained well).  After that, we discussed the story's setting, again using the graphic organizer included in this item.  We listed images from the text in three categories using our sense of sight, hearing and touch.  This tied in nicely, as I had done some minilessons on categorizing weeks before.

Now comes the fun part.  It's something I have never done in 15 years of teaching.  I took my firsties to our all-glass stairway, and we sat and watched the snowstorm.  It was magical.  We probably should have had a snow day, but we didn't.  As we watched the snow fall heavily, we recorded descriptive, "juicy" words to depict the beauty of the snowstorm.   I even went out and collected a snow sample.  We kept track of this fun "matter specimen" all 
day-- I was introducing our new science unit on the states of matter.  Talk about a throwback to thematic teaching!  Check out all these snow words.

In the next lesson, the students were introduced to the writing prompt.  "If this day was full of snow, What would I do?  Where would I go?"  Students first drew a picture of what they would do on a snowy day.  Check out this budding artist of mine in action.

After illustrating, students wrote about their snowy day.  I told them they had to use a minimum of three snowy words from our brainstorm.  As they were writing, students got to observe the snow sample with their hand lenses to add even more rich detail to their writing.  These "sloppy copies" were then edited while the students worked on their publishing craftivity included, too.  They created themselves bundled up just like Peter from the story.   I was sure to have my multicultural-colored markers at hand.  Snow sample anyone?

By the end of the day, our solid had changed to a liquid.  We had a text connection to discuss; the same thing happened to Peter's snowball after he had placed it in his pocket before returning home

I whipped up a "Peter" out of poster board for my outside bulletin board display.  How cute?

Look at this finished project.  My first grader captured the style of The Snowy Day and the mood of our snowstorm perfectly.

Here are the finished projects.  How impressive are these?

I'm proud to share this terrific idea by a fellow TpT seller with you, and how I turned a writing assignment into a complete week of activities incorporating reading, categorizing, use of the senses, author's craft, adjectives and science!  


  1. Wow! I've never been featured in a blog before! I'm MAJORLY honored!!! I'm so very thrilled to be able to see my ideas in action!! (I'm not currently teaching, so I can't even use these myself right now. Staying home with my own kids at the moment!) You made my entire week by giving me a glimpse of how your little ones are using the pages!!! THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!! BTW....I LOVED the big "Peter" you made to go with the display of the children's writing!! Very artistic! I can tell you are an amazing teacher and am just honored that you could use my items in your class! Thank you again!!
    ~ Laurie Gibbons :)

    1. Hi Laurie,

      Thanks for visiting and for checking out the post. This was definitely a memorable activity for both me and my students. Thanks for sharing your inspiration. Enjoy your time at home with your family! It's the only job harder than being a teacher--being mom.


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