During the winter season, engage your students in an activity that is both fun and challenging by combining reading, writing, and math with lots of holiday cheer. Elementary math teacher Meghan Everette adapted an activity originally published by The Mailbox and kicked it up a notch with extra crafty fun and a persuasive writing component.
The Snowman Construction Company
Kick off the lesson with your favorite books about snowmen! Next, it’s time for your class to build their own.
The lesson starts with a seemingly simple task: your students must make a snowman that costs less than $25 and weighs less than 50 pounds in order to help the mayor of a snowless town this holiday season.
- Explain the project and demonstrate the “purchasing” process and final writing. It is helpful to have an example of a completed snowman.
- Highlight possible mistakes your students might make, such as purchasing one piece of coal instead of the five pieces needed to make a mouth.
Snowman Supplies: Adding Money and Weight
First, students must decide which materials they want to use to construct their snowman while still coming under their $25 budget. The materials list is leveled in three ways: for students who can only add with even amounts, for students who can do more complex addition problems, and for students who are learning to convert weights.
- Snowman Materials List: Money Only (Even Amounts)
- Snowman Materials List: Money Only
- Snowman Materials List: Money and Weight
Students should sketch their snowmen ideas based on the supplies they intend to buy from the materials list. They should record their materials and weights (if applicable) and make sure everything they want to buy comes in under budget (and under the weight limit).
When the students have made their purchase decisions, you should review their calculations or assign students to check the tallies with calculators.
Crafting the Snowman
After your students have selected the materials that fit their budget, it’s time to get crafty! There are two ways your students can construct the snowmen out of their chosen supplies.
Option One: Print out several copies of these snowmen accessories and have students color and cut out the supplies they are “purchasing”. They should then assemble and glue their snowman on a larger piece of construction paper.
Option Two: If you are feeling crafty yourself, you can create a “shop” of snowmen supplies that students can “purchase” and assemble. Here are the suggested materials and prep work needed for each part of the snowman:
- Snowballs: Cut 1", 2", 3", and 4" circles from white paper.
- Carrots: Cut small, medium, and large triangles from orange paper.
- Arms: Cut small sticks and larger twigs from brown paper.
- Scarves: Cut thin rectangles from various pieces of felt.
- Hats: Copy the hats from the snowmen accessories and have students color and cut them out.
- Regular Buttons: Purchase mini buttons from the craft or fabric store.
- Large Buttons: Purchase small buttons from the craft or fabric store.
- Coal: Use black seed beads.
- Brooms: Cut bristles from brown paper; attach to a brown pipe cleaner; cut in thirds.
- Shovels: Cut blade from gray paper; attach to thin craft sticks.
Lay out plates of each supply with a label and let students make their “purchases” by referencing their list of materials. Tell them they can only visit the “store” once so they should shop carefully and be sure to get everything they need!
Pitching Their Design With Persuasive Writing
Wrap up the activity by having students write sales pitches that explain why the mayor should invest in their snowman. Using descriptive writing and persuasive writing techniques, students should write at least three reasons why their snowman would make a great purchase for the snowless town this winter season. (At under $25, it’s quite a bargain!)
The weeks that lead up to winter break are hectic, and a lesson that brings together a variety of skills and can be adapted to various levels is essential for keeping students engaged. Alternatively, save this project for after the holidays as a fun way to get back on track in the New Year.
Shop books about snowmen and their friends below! You can find all books and activities at The Teacher Store.