Winter may not officially start until December 21st, but it sure seems as if Mother Nature has other ideas for much of the United States!
While you may already have the winter blues, the winter weather provides lots of opportunities to engage students in science learning and a creative approach to informational reading and writing.
What do you think of when you hear the word "winter?" Obviously, this will change depending on where you live. Winter in Southern California looks (and feels) different than in the state of Oregon. Florida looks different than the northern Eastern states. Different parts of the single state of Texas also vary greatly.
Keep in mind the place where you live when planning winter lessons. While my past homes in New Jersey, Germany, and now Florida give me a range of winter experiences, winter may have more specific or limited meaning to your students.
You may want to start by asking your students (especially primary-age students) what the word "winter" means to them. The collected experiences and stories of your students may help them all better understand what other people mean when they refer to winter.
If you look to the Next Generation Science Standards, weather connections start as early as Kindergarten with how does sunlight affect the Earth's surface, the purpose of weather prediction, and even creating tables of data representing weather in different regions during different seasons.
Most young students love animals. You can also use this passion for animals to make connections between weather and climate to the variety of animal habitats and how animal traits are influenced by their environment.
Connect science to language arts through the Common Core State Standards that focus on reading informational text and writing both informational text and even narrative fiction. Add a visual element to student work provides a well-rounded lesson that engages a variety of students.
Here are a few ideas to get you started!
Idea 1: Diary of a Snowflake
Ask students to tell the story of a snowflake, including how it is formed, how it travels to the ground, and how it spends it’s time once it lands (water cycle). Encourage them to clarify where the snowflake ends up geographically because it will have an impact on how long it will stay around and not thaw out.
Publish student work as eBooks using Pixie, Wixie or Share, or animated stories created in Frames. This project is a great way to bring scientific thinking and creative writing together as well as help them understand that informational text doesn't have to be boring.
Idea 2: Hibernation Habits
After reading non-fiction books, researching websites and/or watching videos about animals that hibernate, have your students create their own non-fiction eBooks on hibernation and hibernating animals that combine textual, visual, and audio information. The facts could be presented as reference materials or even as a comic.
If you live in warm weather location, like I do in Florida, make the process relevant by studying the hibernation habits of animals specific to your area.
Did you know we have bears in Florida! They don’t do a full hibernation, but a process called torpor. Florida students might want to learn more about this process since it’s geographically relevant.
Idea 3: Design a Penguin Habitat
Challenge your students to design a new Penguin Habitat for a local aquarium or zoo. Their design could include a map or scale drawing of the exhibit, a visual of what the exhibit might look like to visitors, ways the exhibit will be penguin friendly, and details descriptions on how to keep it cold and clean.
They might even look to see if any other animals might safely be included in the exhibit or if more than one type of penguin could be exhibited together. Students can record their voices for the presentation and publish online for students to view.
And if you are pining for warmer weather, you might want to learn more about warm weather penguins and build an extension to your design for warm weather penguins that shows the diversity of these amazing animals.
Idea 4: Weather Report
Have students track the weather for a week or month and record their results. Both Pixie and Wixie include lots of different charts and ways to help students record their data.
Depending on the age of your students, you could record weather in your specific area, different regions of the United States, or even different parts of the world. You might choose to include the highs, lows, any special weather notes and possible activities for the day.
This is a great reasont to connect with a geographically distant classroom (for example on Skype) and share your findings!
For added fun, check out the Farmer’s Almanac and see if the weather predictions are correct and what the weather was like for that region in the past. Share the reports on the class blog as a hyperlink.
Let us know how you explore and celebration the winter weather!
We love to hear what teachers are doing in the classroom with Tech4Learning tools! If you have a creative lesson to share dealing with Winter, let us know! Share your ideas in the comments below or on our Facebook pages for Tech4Learning and Wixie.
If you created templates to support student work, upload and share them on the Trading Post.