I love combining a book study unit with teaching a letter of the alphabet. We don’t get snow in the valley where we live, but even so, the grands enjoy learning about snow (and of course, snowmen). So, I developed a study unit on the book Big Snow by Jonathan Bean, and planned activities to teach the younger grands the letter S.
This delightful book, published in 2013, describes the anticipation of David, a little boy, wanting to see “a big snow” in his neighborhood. I loved the way the mother in the story tried to keep him busy by helping her with chores, but unfortunately everything seems to remind David of snow. Even the dream during his nap is focused on shoveling large drifts of snow that accumulated in his home. When he awakes from his nap, his father has come home early from work, due to the snow. The whole family dresses warmly to go out and explore all the snow that is now covering their neighborhood.
I have actually spent several weeks on this unit, mostly because the boys and I have taken turns recuperating from colds (or flu), but this would most likely be a four day unit otherwise. As always, I plan a variety of activities in each intelligence and choose the ones that best work for each grandson (Tigger 6, Kona 4, and Tahoe 2). If you use this study unit, I encourage you to use at least one activity from each intelligence.
Linguistic (Word Smart)
Reading- I have read Big Snow to each grandson several times. There is always a discussion of the pictures, new vocabulary, the sequence of events, and the letter S as I read to them.
Writing- Both Kona and Tigger love to type on my iPad, so as I read the story to each of them, they located words that begin with “S” and typed them. We read the words together afterwards. The youngest grand, Tahoe, traced the letter “S” in the air with my help.
Decoding – Tigger worked on decoding words that had s-blends (such as stop and slug) using this website:
Spatial Intelligence (Picture Smart)
Letter crafts- (Snowman Craft) I planned a simple craft project to use the letter “S” to make a snowman for the two younger grands. I cut out a letter S, some snowman face features, a hat, and some buttons from construction paper. I happened to have scraps of red yarn too which we used as the snowman’s scarf. First, to make the body of the snowman, we glued the letter “S” to a piece of construction paper. Next I had the boys spread white glue to make two circles within the letter “S” and then had them sprinkle baking soda on top of the glue. After the glue and baking soda had dried, we gently shook off the excess baking soda. We decorated the snowmen with the construction pieces and yarn that I had prepare to complete the picture.(Snake Craft) I had Tahoe create a separate project as well. I cut a large letter “S” out of construction paper and had him trace it with his finger. I told him that “S” starts the word”Snake” and we made the sound a snake makes together. Then he used his dot paints and crayons to turn the “S” into a “Snake”.
Videos on Snow- I found several news videos online about the blizzard in New England (Jan. ’15) so I watched them with my older grandsons after reading the book Big Snow. (I always preview videos before showing them to my grandsons, and if necessary, we watch the videos with the audio turned off.) We discussed the similarities that we saw in the videos and the book.
Videos on Letter “S”- I also showed videos on the letter “S” to Kona and Tahoe that I found online. They are so many of these videos available and they are easy to find, so I won’t share the links we used.
Interpersonal (People Smart)
Dramatic play – After reading the story several times to the grands, we reenacted the story using dramatic play and any props that were laying around the area where we played.
Cooking – Since my grandsons are still young enough to need lots of supervision during cooking activities, I have placed this activity under Interpersonal. It could go under Logical/Mathematical (for measuring) or Linguistic (for reading directions) as well for older children. I chose two recipes to share with my readers. Since the main character in the book starts making oatmeal raisin cookies, I would use this recipe if my grandsons weren’t on a gluten free diet right now. http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Oatmeal-Raisin-Cookies-I/
For a gluten free version, I planned to do this recipe: http://kitchensimplicity.com/oatmeal-chocolate-chip-raisin-cookies/
Games- “Snowball Fight” Since we didn’t have real snowballs, the grands and I used rolled up socks as snowballs.
Bodily-Kinesthetic (Body Smart)
Pretend Snow- Since we don’t get our own snow, we have to make “Pretend Snow” instead. I found an easy recipe at this link (although we didn’t add glitter or lavendar oil to our version.)
Cleaning House- Part of the story Big Snow, includes David attempting to help his mother with household chores (changing the sheets and cleaning the bathroom) to take his mind off the snow that was coming down outside. You might not be able to do this in a classroom, (although you could pantomime these activities), but since I watch the grands in their own home, it is a wonderful activity for us. As you work together, discuss items you are using that begin with the letter “S”, such as suds, spray bottle, soap, etc.
Playing with Scooters-While I’m not sure you can ride on scooters in the snow, I remind my grandsons that “scooter” begins with the sound of “S” as they play with them. Kona and Tigger love to race each other in their scooters, while Tahoe thinks it is fun to try to balance on two scooters at the same time.
Winter Clothing Race- In the story Big Snow, David keeps going outside to check on the snow. Each time he leaves the house he has to put on his jacket, scarf, hat, and mittens. I designed a race for Tigger and Kona where I left pieces of their winter clothing around the great room in their house, and they had to race to collect each piece and then put them all on.
Playdough mats- I created my own playdough mat of the Letter S and a snowman for Tahoe and Kona to practice the formation of the letter S and to create their own snowmen with playdough.
Naturalist intelligence (Nature Smart)
Field trips– If it doesn’t snow where you live, you may be able to take a field trip to a place that does have snow so they can experience and play in the real thing.
Nature Letters- I took the grands outside and had them make the letter “S” out of natural materials they had found in the yard.
Outdoor Scavenger Hunt– I either make a list or take picture cards of some items that we might find outside that begin with the letter “S” such as sticks, stones, sand, stars, saplings, sun, or sunshine.
Logical/Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)
Counting activities: Tigger worked on a “snowflake” activity which required him to use his counting and measuring skills. He had to create a six sided snowflake with pipe cleaners, count the number of cups of boiling water I poured into a mason jar (3), add nine tablespoons of Borax to the water, and place three drops of blue food coloring in the liquid before stirring. The complete directions for this fun activity can be found here:
Measuring: One of the towns in Massachusetts had 36 inches of snow. I had Kona and Tigger measure 36 inches pieces of construction paper that were taped together and then attached the measured paper to the wall so the grands could easily visualize how much snow had fallen during the blizzard.
Intrapersonal Intelligence (Self Smart)
Independent reading– I always allow time for the grands to look over the book we are studying on their own.
Exploration– Since we don’t get “real snow” where we live, I kept the “Pretend Snow” (explained under Bodily-Kinesthetic) in the refrigerator. The boys were able to take it out and play with it on their own. (Tahoe wouldn’t play with it though. He said it was too cold.)
Musical Intelligence (Music Smart)
Finger plays and songs- “Frosty the Snowman”or “Susy Snowflake” can be sung all during the winter season. The lyrics can be found online. “Five Little Snowmen” is a cute finger play and can be found at this link:
Listening to classical music-Play Vivaldi’s “Winter” from the Four Seasons Symphony while you have a snowball fight (listed under Interpersonal Intelligence). Or listen to “Waltz of the Snowflakes” from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker while making “Pretend Snow” (see Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence).
I hope you are enjoying my lesson plans using Multiple Intelligence strategies, and finding some ideas that will work for the children in your care. If you are interested in seeing more of my lesson plans, please sign up to follow my blog.
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