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January 14, 2015 Shake Up ELA With The Snow Globe Family By Lindsey Petlak
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Residing in a northern (almost Wisconsin) suburb of Chicago, I often feel like I live inside a snow globe. Just this week, we’ve had blustery snowfall and subzero temperatures. While I don’t actually live inside a snow globe, it’s fun to imagine if I did. Read to find out blizzards of fun applications for one of my favorite frosty books, The Snow Globe Family.



    The Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor, illustrated by S. D. Schindler

    In this parallel adventure, the little family who lives in the snow globe wonders when it will snow, while the big Baby gazes longingly at their snowy little world. (Summary from





    This whimsical winter tale can be used for so many academic purposes, and at varied grade levels. Check out this Scholastic lesson plan from Jeremy Brunaccioni with retelling activities, lesson extensions, and even a coordinating craft. It’s great for preschoolers through second graders, depending on how you modify the activities to fit your student needs. Target academic skills include:

    • comprehension (fiction)

    • retelling

    • sequencing

    • following directions


    COORDINATING CRAFTIVITIES: (Great for varied ages: K-5)

    Homemade Snow Globes (click title for instructions)

    Students will capture the spirit of winter with these homemade snow globes.

    See below for example of finished snow globe.


    Paper Snow Globes: (click title for instructions)

    Using construction paper and simple tracers, create a snow globe scene that’s super cute!

    See below for example of finished snow globe.




    I have used this story for countless activities across numerous grade levels, but this year I have been blown away with how well this simple story lends itself to more complex, Common Core State Standards-aligned, intermediate student learning. This experience has reminded me and reaffirmed the importance of incorporating picture books as mentor texts, regardless of the grade level one teaches. In so many ways, this seemingly primary book has gleaned many more and higher quality teachable moments and student activities. Check out a few of my favorites below!



    Perspective is a significant, continual literature theme that our district fourth graders explore throughout the entire year. We have woven the examination of perspective into so many amazing novels, news articles, and other complex texts. However, The Snow Globe Family is a perfect mentor text for demonstrating (both via language and illustrations) check out pages 16 and 18 for different perspectives.



    After reading the text, and discussing the way perspective was illustrated through words and images, students were assigned to take a position: Would you want to live from the perspective of inside a snow globe, or do you prefer to keep your current perspective, living outside of the snow globe? Read lesson steps below, and/or click on the image of my in-class web page for further details, instructions, and useful student links.

    Lesson Steps:

    • Preview and read story aloud to class.

    • Discuss the element of varied perspectives using both text and illustrations.

    • After reading, discuss (whole group or in partners) which PERSPECTIVE you personally prefer: living INside or OUTside of the snow globe.

    • In groups of three or four, regardless of which perspective individuals prefer, brainstorm all possible pros and cons of living inside of a snow globe.

    • After the group brainstorm, have students (if technology is available) populate THIS TABLE using Google Drive with all of the pros/cons each group generated. This master list can be referenced by students to collect evidence to support their preferred perspective in the argument essay they write.

    • Using this PLANNING PAGE, students make a copy of the original, and then brainstorm and flesh out their preferred perspective, three reasons supporting your perspective of choice, and evidentiary details for those main reasons, as well as plan their introduction and conclusion.

    • PLEASE NOTE: If your students do not have access to technology, you could simply add space to each cell in the template tables and print for them to use a paper copy for the pros/cons and brainstorm planning page.

    • Following their brainstorm and planning, students combine their notes into a draft and proceed through the writing process (revising, editing, publishing), as you typically do in your classroom.

    • Once the essay is finished, publish by printing or writing a final draft, and attach that draft to the snow globe perspective craftivity below!

    NOTE: You could also do a simpler writing project by having students write a narrative about what they imagine life would be like living inside of a snow globe.



    Create this snow globe craft, not only because it makes an adorable display, but also (and more importantly) because it allows your students to visually represent the perspective they prefer:

    1. A picturesque image of a winter wonderland they want to live in

    2. Their big, curious eyes looking into the snow globe, because they prefer to live outside.

    NOTE: If you are doing the simpler writing activity (narrative about life inside of a snow globe), students would create that scene inside their globe template.


    The examples above were used using a paper plate in back for the illustration, followed by cutting out the inside circle of a second paper plate stapled on top of the bottom plate and baggie of "snow" to create a finished-looking snow globe edge.



    • Create your snow globe using one of the following methods:

      • Use a copy of this SNOW GLOBE TEMPLATE

      • Use the template as a tracer onto white and black construction paper

      • Using a white paper plate as the globe and tracing the base onto black construction paper, create your plain snow globe.

      • I found some pre-made cardstock cutouts of snow globes on deep discount after the holidays. Keep your eyes peeled and maybe you’ll find something similar!


    • Depending on your perspective, illustrate the inside of the snow globe accordingly (see details above).

    • Once the snow globe is complete, you may glue the plain snow globe onto construction paper (I suggest blue) the way it is, OR you may proceed to the following instructions to make your craftivity extra frosty fun.

    • Once you have created your snow globe with illustration, get a quart or gallon sized zipper baggie, depending on the size of your snow globe.

    • Fill the bottom of the baggie (about one-tenth to one-eighth full) with any combination of the following craft goodies: fake snow, glitter, confetti, or even white paper punch holes

    • Place the zippered baggie centered on top of your globe (just the globe part, not the base).

    • Fold over the corners and any part of the baggie that is overlapping the edge of your globe.

    • Staple, glue, or tape these folded excess edges onto the back of the globe.

    • Turn your globe over to have correct side facing up, and then mount onto (blue) construction paper. Your globe will really look filled with snow and as if you can shake it up!!

    • Staple finished writing pages to the construction paper, under the bottom of the finished snow globe.



    We hung our final creations with pride inside our classroom so that we could enjoy them every day. However, I wanted passers-by and parents at conferences to be able to view/preview them from the hallway. So, I took a photo of each final product, added them all to a slideshow, and then created a QR code linked to the slideshow. Students with iPads or parents with smartphones (or other devices) could walk by, read about our project, and then scan the QR code to see all of our awesome, snowy creations!

    **Read more about this and other interactive, tech-integrated hallway displays on my previous blog post!







    This story is filled with beautiful similes and metaphors describing the winter wonderland in which the snow globe family lives. Use THESE TABLES to explain the literal meaning behind the figurative language phrases and sentences found within the story text. Then, create your OWN figurative language (using similes, metaphors, idioms, etc.) to describe the characters and/or settings from the story.



    Conventions of Standard English:


    Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.


    Vocabulary Acquisition and Use:


    Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.


    Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.


    Key Ideas and Details:


    Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.


    Determine central ideas or themes of a text and analyze their development; summarize the key supporting details and ideas.

    Craft and Structure:

    Assess how point of view or purpose shapes the content and style of a text.


    Text Types and Purposes:


    Write arguments to support claims in an analysis of substantive topics or texts using valid reasoning and relevant and sufficient evidence.


    Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details and well-structured event sequences.

    Production and Distribution of Writing:


    Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.


    Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach.


    Use technology, including the Internet, to produce and publish writing and to interact and collaborate with others.

    I hope this frosty fun helps you beat the winter blues. No matter what elementary grade you teach, or whether you want to focus on a quick comprehension or language activity or want to dive in deeper with an argument essay about perspective combined with an adorable craftivity, I know you and your students will love spending some cozy time with The Snow Globe Family!  

    Thanks for reading, and see you next week!


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Susan Cheyney