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About the Book
On March 12, 1888, two powerful storm systems combined and caused a great blizzard. The snow traveled along the East Coast, wreaking havoc and destroying many lives. Jim Murphy details the three days of cold wind, ice, and snow that covered the ground from Virginia to Maine, focusing on the stories of individuals who endured this horrible blizzard.
Have students use their five senses to describe what snow tastes, looks, smells, sounds, and feels like. Give them examples and remind them to be creative. If possible, pass around an ice cube or a cold pack and ask the students to describe the sensation in their hand. (If students live in a warm climate ask them to imagine chopped ice.) You may want to encourage them to use similes and metaphors. Example: snow looks like vanilla frosting, or snow sounds like a whisper. Write down these words and phrases on a piece of chart paper. This will make up the word/ phrase wall.
Step 1: Students should reread the information about one person's experience during the blizzard. Have them write what the person was doing before the blizzard. Was this person aware of the blizzard or excited to see the snow falling?
Step 2: Tell students that they are going to write a timeline poem. The timeline poem will consist of three parts and be written from the perspective of one of the people in the book. The first part of the poem will detail the thoughts and reactions of a person as the snow first begins to fall. The second part of the poem will describe that person's experience during the blizzard. The third part should be about after the blizzard has passed.
Tip: Encourage students to borrow from the word wall to help them describe the blizzard. Tell students that they can combine words and phrases from the word wall.
Optional: Often, students find it hard to get started writing their poems. You may want to provide a first line for each of their poems, such as Snow _________ the world. (Suggest descriptions like covers, blankets, falls on, wipes out, beautifies, disguises, effaces). For each of the three parts of the timeline poem, the students can fill in the blank with a different word, illustrating the change in perspective as the snow continues to fall.
Step 3: Have students consider how the tone of the poem changes as the snow falls. What is this person in the poem worried about?
Student reflects on what has been learned after reading and formulates ideas, opinions, and personal responses to text.