With the advent of snow, I feel your pain, folks. Do lines like these torment your winter dreams: “I have to go to the bathroom,” “Johnny has one of my mittens,” “Mom says I don’t have to wear a coat”? It’s the time of year when your classroom smells like wet mittens and snow gear must be worn for recess, necessitating an extra 20 minutes to get dressed to go out. To help with the torment of readying for the great outdoors, I’ve chosen a few winter-weather titles.
Chilly Milly Moo
Written and illustrated by Fionna Ross
When I read Chilly Milly Moo to my students, they quickly became enamored with the facial expressions of the cows. I don’t blame them; the quirky illustrations are pretty delightful. The storyline finds Milly Moo frustrated with being unable to make milk. After being ribbed by the other cows, she discovers she can make ice cream, and without holding a grudge, states, “We’re all special!” A fun story all around and a nice title to help celebrate differences.
The Sniffles for Bear
Written by Bonny Becker
Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton
OK, so The Sniffles for Bear isn’t so much about the weather as about the season. This is a nice title to segue into hygiene, handwashing, keeping your hands away from your mouth and nose, etc. (During Bear’s melodrama, the story does mention wills, so you may want to use this with older children.) The artwork and text are pretty amusing for children and adults. Who can resist a stuffy nosed Bear answering a knock with, “Cub in”?
As an extension activity, use the Staying Healthy Drawing Prompt to have students demonstrate a way in which they can stay healthy.
Written and illustrated by Alexander Steffensmeier
The premise of a mail cow, in Millie in the Snow, had my students intrigued from the start. When the postman asks Millie to deliver some presents to the farm, she gets lost in the snow until she starts moving in a straight line. When she returns and mixes up the presents, the resulting scene is irresistible to kids.
On a side note, the dedication page is interesting to point out to students. It reads: “For Jan, even though he doesn’t yet know what a dedication is.” I usually explain to my students that a dedication is for the person or people the author or illustrator was thinking about when they created the book.
Written and illustrated by Barbara Reid
Albert Whitman & Company
The first thing you and your students will notice about Perfect Snow is the fresh illustrations. Crafted with Plasticine, Barbara Reid creates snowy recess images that children will quickly relate to. Her bird’s eye view illustration of the kids on the playground is so much fun, your students will be chomping at the bit to go outdoors. She’s also added some ink and watercolor illustrations to help tell the story. Any of them would make a great writing prompt for your students after you’ve read them the book.
The Snowy Day: 50th Anniversary Edition
Written and illustrated by Ezra Jack Keats
So the odds are, you already have a copy of The Snowy Day somewhere in your classroom, as it’s the classic “go to” winter title. However, the 50th anniversary edition is out and the bonus material makes it worth picking up another copy. This edition features photos of Ezra Jack Keats, a page from the original manuscript, and a recounting of the anxiety he went though on discovering he’d have to speak before a large crowd to accept the Caldecott. Much of the primary source material reproduced in this special edition is worth photocopying and enlarging to share with your students.
So now that you have some snowy titles on hand, why not try to enjoy some of the white stuff? Have you ever filled your water table with snow? With or without mittens, the children have a blast. Try adding some toy dinosaurs or cars to add to the imaginative play.
Whipping together some salt dough and letting the children make tracks is always fun too. Salt dough is quick and easy to make. If you don't have your own favorite, try this. Mix 1 cup of salt and 1 cup of flour in a bowl. Make a depression in the middle and add 1/2 cup water. Knead the mixture until mixed and you're ready for some salt dough fun. If you want to have the ingredient list and directions on-hand, download my Salt Dough Directions.
All Together Singing in the Kitchen
Written by Nerissa Nields and Katryna Nields
If you’re teaching in an early childhood classroom, you’re used to infusing your instruction with art and music. In fact, you probably have Rise Up Singing on standby on your desk. Now there’s a new “must have” title for home and the classroom: All Together Singing in the Kitchen: Creative Ways to Make and Listen to Music as a Family. Written by folk singer duo extraordinaire The Nields, this book is filled with great ideas, advice, and music to use at home and in the classroom. Some highlights include instructions on how to create a 12-string guitar, games for imaginative play, and a great selection of guitar chords and lyrics.
If you want to see the Nields in action and talking about some of the exercises in their book, click on the link. All together now!