In May of last year, our tot school theme was I for Igloo.
In May of this year (I’m a couple weeks behind in posting), we spent a week on the book The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats. I guess it’s become a tradition to do cold themes in the middle of warm weather!
The Snowy Day is a sweet tale of a little boy who goes outside to play in the snow. It captures the magic of wintertime from the eyes of a child.
I absolutely adore the simple, colorful illustrations and can totally understand why it won the 1963 Caldecott Medal for best illustrations in a children’s book.
As we read this book every day, we also made the snow come alive through play (even when the temperature outside was above 80 degrees)!
Making a snow globe discovery bottle for Songbird.
The Snowy Day Activities
1) The Four Seasons Lesson
We turned to the Four Seasons lesson in our Let’s Play School Kit and reviewed how things change outside depending on the season.
2) Salt Snow Tray
The tray: white table salt to represent the snow, cotton balls for added snow effect, a glass dish, a small scoop, and 2 toy bunnies to represent Peter (the main character in the book) and Peter’s mom.
His imagination soared with this tray! Here he was making snow angels with the stretchy bunnies.
We stacked cotton balls to make snowmen.
Scooping salt into the glass dish.
Rocket decided to reenact the scenes from the book with some small world play using the salt tray. However, instead of going down a hill like Peter did in the book, these bunnies went down a slide made of Styrofoam blocks!
After a long day playing outside, Peter went inside to take a bath. Rocket had the page turned to that scene as he gave his bunny a bath on the blue Styrofoam block tub.
He thought it was hilarious to stretch out the bunnies and warp their faces. He let his sister see one too!
3) Dress-Up Scott
I created Dress-Up Scott for the last unit of our A-Z themes, Z for Zipper. We brought it out again to talk about appropriate clothes to wear when the weather is cold.
Dressing up Scott for cold weather.
4) The Snowy Day Sensory Tub
The tub: white cotton balls and cold weather figurines I’d made for Igloo Week. Sensory tub tools: a plastic bin with different compartments and two types of tongs.
He used the tongs to fill the container up with cotton balls. This activity did not hold his interest as much as the other things we did that week.
5) Marshmallow Snowman Tray
The tray: small and large marshmallows to represent snow, 3 stacked on top of each other to make a snowman, and a metal cup full of toothpicks.
We used the toothpicks to connect the marshmallows and make different structures. We also used them to make letters, which he loved!
6) Weather Talk
We spent a lot of time for our week on The Snow Day just talking about the weather and the four seasons. I asked him what he remembered about the wintertime and he recounted our good times sledding, building snowmen, and throwing snowballs! He also remembered seeing icicles. The week had sunny days, windy days, rainy days, and stormy days, so much of our time was spent huddled together around the window, just observing and talking.
7) Footprints In The Snow Play Doh Tray
The tray: white Play-Doh to represent the snow, plastic animals to tramp through and make footprints like Peter did in the book, and a dough shaper toy with a footprint stamper.
Comparing animal footprints in the snow.
8) Styrofoam Peanut Snowball Fight
The invitation: 2 containers full of white Styrofoam peanuts. He chose one and I took the other. Then, we ran around the house having a “snowball fight!”
I told him he couldn’t throw them at Songbird, but he really wanted to involve her so we placed them gently around her instead.
The aftermath of our indoor snowball fight!
9) Making A Snowy Day Discovery Bottle
The tray: an empty glass bottle, glitter, confetti (added later at his request), and sparkly pom-poms (added later at his request). The object was to make a cool snow globe type of shaker for the baby!
He placed a snowflake sticker on the top when he was done.
10) Reading With A Purpose
Some things we talked about during our reading sessions of The Snowy Day:
- Weather-appropriate clothes. What do we wear in the winter? What about when it rains in the spring?
- Solving a mystery. Peter found a wet spot in his pocket where he’d put his snowball. What happened? We talked about the melting process and the different forms of water.
- Dreams. After a big day of playing in the snow, Peter dreamed that it was sunny outside. Maybe Peter dreamed this because he had discovered that his snowball melted. Why do people dream? We talked about how dreams often are reflections of what happened in our day or what we have on our minds.
11) Related Reading
- Sadie And The Snowman by Allen Morgan. An old favorite and one we own.
- Gregory’s Shadow by Don Freeman. This book was written by the same author who wrote Corduroy.
- Cleo In The Snow by Stella Blackstone. He loved this cute story about a cat in the snow!
- Snow Friends by Christina Butler. Another one we own.
- Baby Loves Winter by Karen Katz. We love all the seasonal lift-the-flap books in this collections!
We spent our mornings reading about the winter time and doing cold-themed activities only to follow it up by going outside to play in the blistering sun. Anything goes in tot school!
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