Education

Learning from Snowflakes

A beautiful book can be the springboard to teach kids about writing, math—and themselves

Strung together, paper snowflakes. create a handmade snowstorm.

As an educator, I’m always on the hunt for books that help students build on their prior knowledge. In particular, I like to seek out books that create a conceptual framework for my students who are learning English as a second language.

I came across the pop-up book Snowflakes by Jennifer Preston Chushcoff while browsing the Getty Store. I was thrilled to find such a fabulous book to introduce winter and to provide examples for making snowflakes. Integrating hands-on art activities into vocabulary instruction is not only fun, but also provides a richer and more lasting learning experience. In fact, I plan to use the book as a springboard for a range of lessons—from science (the composition of snowflakes) to math (geometry and measurement) to writing (personal responses to the book).

snowflake book

To make snowflakes with my younger students, I will use this step-by-step tutorial, since it relies on nothing more elaborate (or expensive) than coffee filters, tape, and ribbon. For older students, there are snowflake lesson plans posted by teachers online that integrate geometry concepts such as angles, types of triangles, and quadrilaterals, lines of symmetry, and line relationships.

In my classroom we will read the book together and used the many different examples of snowflakes in the art—from simple, tiny flower-shaped whorls to elaborate three-dimensional explosions of ice crystals—to make our own snowflakes.

I found that the text’s explanation of the uniqueness of snowflakes lends itself to authentic writing responses as well:

Most snowflakes have six sides
Some have twelve
They look like lace
And fine cut jewels falling
They tickle your tongue
And land on the snowman’s nose
Watch their miracle before they melt
All snowflakes are beautiful
Each one is unique
Just like you

Even my young students could be led into discussion and writing about what uniqueness means, and what makes them unique. Also, the captivating artwork transported the students to a snowy world they might not ever see in person. The scenes with the deer, pines, and the pop-up tree delighted and captivated me. This book is a definite must-read during our cold winter days.

Tagged , , , , Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

One Comment

  1. Linda Theung
    Posted December 20, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Permalink

    I love this application of craft and art to teach kids what they usually don’t associate with craft and art: math, identity, and literature. Thanks for the post, Loretta!

Post a Comment

Your email is never published or shared. Required fields are marked *

*
*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

  • Facebook

  • Twitter

  • Tumblr

    • photo from Tumblr

      I do not like crooked, twisted, blasted trees. I admire them much more if they are tall, straight, and flourishing. I do not like ruined, tattered cottages. I am not fond of nettles or thistles, or heath blossoms. I have more pleasure in a snug farm-house than a watch-tower—and a troop of tidy, happy villages please me better than the finest banditti in the world.”

      Marianne looked with amazement at Edward, with compassion at her sister. Elinor only laughed.

      —Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, published on October 30, 1811

      Wooded Landscape by Paulus Lieder and Landscape with a Bare Tree and a Ploughman by Leon Bonvin, The J. Paul Getty Museum; Fantastic Oak Tree in the Woods, Carl Wilhelm Kolbe the Elder, The Getty Research Institute

      10/30/14

  • Flickr