Learning With Literature: The Snowy Day

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 The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats is a Caldecott winner and a Before-Five-In-a-Row selection.  And this year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of this wonderful book. Quite significant, is that it is the first children’s book to have an African American lead character.

I have a very clear memory of having it read to me as a child.  I remember how magical the book seemed.  The giant mountains of snow and Peter, so small in comparison, discovering the wonderfulness of playing in new snow.  And now I wonder what books will stand out for my kids when they are older.

My 5 year old, The Queen Bee, and I  spent a few days learning with this book to prepare for our trip to see the play at a wonderful local theatre, Adventure Theatre, at historic Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland.  And what a production it was.  If you are anywhere near the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area, I highly recommend this production.  I have never seen anything at Adventure Theatre that wasn’t terrific, but this was exceptional.

After the show:  Alan Wiggins, who played Peter, and Calvin McCullough, who played the roles of Harold and Arnold in Adventure Theatre’s production of The Snowy Day.


Click here for a great video of a reading of The Snowy Day.  This can also be found on Adventure Theatre’s website.

In the days before the play, we did a snowman math activity with dot-a-dot markers, inspired by Rachel at I Heart Crafty Things.

The learning task for my daughter was to sound out the number words on the pink cards that she did not know.  She then made a fun snowman for each number and decorated it. Then she tried to teach her 3 year old brother number recognition but he was more interested in doing this with the dot-a-dot markers:

“Well, good for him!”, I thought, pleased beyond measure that he is not eating them, drawing all over his body with them or using them to color one of his siblings or our pets. Moving on…

One of our favorite activities was finding this great to-along book:  Thomas’ Snowsuit by Robert Munsch. Thomas refused to put on his snowsuit and struggles ensue. His teacher winds up wearing the snowsuit.  You really must go and listen to the author read this and many more of his other books on his website. He is hilarious. My 7 year old has stayed up late into the night listening to these on the lap top in his bed. He can now recite many of the stories from memory. They are all truly silly and fun and Munsch is a wonderfully animated storyteller, which comes through, even in these audio recordings.

More Snowy Day Activities

Sparkly snow play dough, inspired by Ten Kids and a Dog.  This was very easy to make.  You add glitter to the basic dough recipe. I made the kids’ each a little jar for their Christmas stockings and they’ve played with it many times since.

Shaving cream snow and dollhouse figures to act out the story. We manipulated the dolls feet in the shaving cream to make tracks like Peter did in the book. I also gave each child a popsicle stick to make a track in the snow, like Peter.  Can’t you see Peter underneath all of this shaving cream snow?  No. Well, he’s in there. Shaving cream is messy and fun and both my 5 and 3 year olds and a visiting friend had a great time with this.

Melting Ice and Freezing Letters and Numbers Activity  We had a great time learning about how ice melts, as well as playing with plastic letters and numbers frozen in a block of ice to make words and math equations.  You can read more about those activities here or click on one of the photos below.

You can find more books with activities to go along on our Learning With Literature page. Next up in our Learning with Literature series, The Mitten, by Jan Brett.

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