Literature and Cooperative Learning
The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler, is a great story to teach children about not giving up. Simply, it is about Little Nell, a tiny girl compared to the rest of her BIG family. She goes into the woods to build a great big snowman, and does so, with help and encouragement from her animal friends. In this specific lesson we focused on attending to the details in the story.
After reading the story, The Biggest, Best Snowman, students will work in cooperative groups to make a snowman with the details from the story.
- The Biggest, Best Snowman by Margery Cuyler
- white butcher paper (pre cut into large, medium, and small circles)
- constructions paper of various colors ("scrap" box if you have one)
- 40-50 minutes
- Read the story to the class, be sure to stop to clarify, and make predictions along the way. I find it easy to stop before I turn the page and ask students, "What do you think will happen next?" Then, I have student repeat with the sentence frame, "I predict..." (about 10 minutes)
- Discuss with students the importance of remember details from the story. If needed, reread sections of the story to help clarify details. (about 3-5 minutes)
- Instruct students that they will have to use the details from the story to reconstruct the snowman. They will work in groups of three and must work together. You decide if the book should or should not be available for them to use. (about 3-5 minutes)
- Assign each student in the job: scissor person, glue person, paper person, and instruct them on their duties: scissor person cuts, the glue person glues, and the paper person selects the paper.
- Give students time to construct their snowman. (about 15 minutes)
- When done, have students post their snowmen for display on the bulletin board, tape it to the chalk board, or place where ever it is convenient for everyone to see. (about 2-3 minutes)
- After all are placed, reread the section of the story where it describes the snowmen. You'll find many students might just add what they remember from previous stories and movies about what they think should be on a snowman. But this story is just a bit different: he has bark for his eyes, an old pink sock for his nose, raisins for his mouth, and a scarf borrowed from Little Nell. (about 5-7 minutes)
- Then, as a class decide on which snowmen did the best interpretation from The Biggest, Best Snowman and discuss the importance of remembering details. (about 5-10 minutes)
SUPPORTING ALL LEARNERS
This lesson is a great motivator for all students. It allows for visual, kinesthetic and auditory learners to work cooperatively and productively. Assist students when necessary and allow for various as needed.
Students can write short descriptive paragraphs about their snowmen. Then the descriptions can be posted in the room near the display of snowmen. Other students can then read the descriptions and try to guess which snowman correlates to that specific description.
Check out Clifford Seasonal Fun for great online extension activities!
I love the idea that students can use this story to work together!
Do you have any suggestions? Please leave them in a comment below!