I generally plan to do Snow-themed storytimes around the end of January, because that's typically the time we are most likely to see snow here. But the weather did not cooperate this year, and we've had 2 weeks of unseasonably mild temperatures and rain. Lots of rain. I think we have had at least some rain every day for the last 10+ days! But I didn't have time to change gears, and I knew the kids would still like talking about snow, so I stuck with it.
We started with our welcome song, and introduced the topic by talking about all the fun things we can do in the snow and looking at some beautiful photographs of actual snowflakes from www.snowcrystals.com (this site has tons of photographs, and lots of info on the science behind snowflakes). Then we sang our story song and read our first book, the classic by Ezra Jack Keats, The Snowy Day.
I love this simple story and the lovely illustrations, and the added bonus of making predictions (What will happen when Peter smacks the snow-covered tree with the stick?) and cause-and-effect (What happened to Peter's snowball? Why did it melt?) and featuring a person of color. I usually get one of the 50th Anniversary editions to use for storytime because they are bigger, but I waited too late and they were all checked out. I was feeling nostalgic, so I decided to use my original childhood copy, though the cover is certainly showing some wear after almost 50 years and five kids (myself, my 3 siblings, and my daughter).
For our next story, I used another personal book, my son's The Snowmen Pop-Up Book by Caralyn and Mark Buehner, which is a pop-up version of their popular Snowmen At Night. Do you ever wonder why your snowman looks a little different the next day? In this story, a little boy imagines why.
This version is particularly good for younger groups as it is a bit shorter than the original book, and of course has the added interest of the pop-ups to get their attention. (FYI, the spreads about drinking ice-cold cocoa, playing baseball, and ice-skating are omitted in this version.)
The kids were all too eager to point out the snowman had really just melted, which made a great segue into our next activity:
Five little snowmen standing in a row, each with a hat and a carrot nose.
Out came the sun and shone all day, and one little snowman melted away!
Four little snowmen........(down to one)
One little snowman standing all alone, with his hat and a carrot nose.
Out came the sun and shone all day, and the last little snowman melted away.
No little snowmen standing all alone, none with a hat or a carrot nose.
The sun came out and shone all day, and melted all the snowmen away.
I put the puddles on the board, then place the snowmen over them so when the snowmen "melts", the puddle is left behind. This can be said as a rhyme or sung to the tune of "FiveLittle Ducks Went Out To Play". [For more pictures, complete instructions with alternate versions, and printable files, see my previous Flannel Friday post.]
On the fly I decided to do a quick matching activity using these, too. Leaving the puddles on the board, I held up the snowmen one at a time and let the kids tell me which puddle he would leave, and identify the hatband and tie colors. They really got a kick out of my playing dumb and mismatching them on purpose.
We had talked a lot about building snowmen, making snow angels, and having snowball fights, so for the third story I chose a book that focused on an activity that many of us don't get a chance to do in this area because of insufficient snowfall, sledding.
In Lee Harper's (not to be confused with Harper Lee, the author of To Kill A Mockingbird) Snow! Snow! Snow! our two young characters are thrilled to wake up to a landscape covered in snow. Their father takes them sledding, where a bump at the bottom of the hill sends them soaring into the air. But, what goes up must come down! Short, simple text with nice illustrations.
We ended with our usual closing song, and passed out stickers.
How It Went
Despite Mother Nature not cooperating, we had a great time talking about playing in the snow. If this had been a library storytime rather than outreach, I would have let them have a snowball fight with our fake snowballs (like giant pom-poms) and spread something on the floor for them to make snow angels in. But, the classroom is too cramped and crowded to do either of these activities, unfortunately.
The Snowmen Pop-Up book was predictably the book they liked best. They were not quite as engaged with the other two, though they did all laugh when the snow from the tree fell on Peter's head in The Snowy Day and when the airborne sledders realized that what goes up must come down in Snow! Snow! Snow! They really liked the "Five Little Snowmen" activity, and we discussed how it might be sad when our snowman melts, but we can always build another one the next time it snows.
I had a bigger crowd that usual today, with 19 kids instead of the usual 12-14. I saw several new faces, but the teacher said they weren't new to her class, just that they usually don't arrive early enough for storytime. With that many extra kids that weren't used to the storytime routine, it was definitely a little more challenging!