What Do You Wear in the Snow?

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Students will be able to practice spelling words phonetically drawing on their knowledge of sound letter relationships.

Big Idea

Hunting for clothing items in catalogs to “dress a mannequin” helps engage students in a phonological spelling activity.


15 minutes

Gather students on the rug using a preferred classroom management technique. I like to use my “Stop, look, listen.” The students stop what they are doing, look at me and listen for the direction. I usually preface the direction with, “When I say go…” This reminds the students to listen to the whole direction before moving to follow the directive.

In this case I would say, “When I say go I would like you to clear your space, push in your chair and go take a spot on your dot. Walking feet go.” By saying walking feet I am reminding the students to use walking feet in the classroom to ensure safe movement between areas.

When all of the students are seated on their dot in the rug area I tell the students that we are going to take turns dressing a bear. I unveil the hidden screen on the SMARTBoard to allow the students to see the bear with the weather dice next to him. 

The bear dressing interactive activity is available from the SMART Exchange - What Do I Wear?

Another interactive lesson I sometimes use is Dressing for the Weather. I will switch out the lessons at free choice center time so the students get to not only practice dressing for the weather but also recognizing the different types of weather associated with the seasons. 

"Now I am going to use the fair sticks to come up and tape the weather dice and dress the bear. You will have to dress the bear to match the type of weather that is shown on the weather dice. To dress the bear you simply put your finger on the clothing item and drag it over onto the bear. Let's watch me do one so you get the idea." The reason I model the process once is so that my visual learners get the idea and the students who are confused by the directions have a clearer understanding of the expectation. 

Once I have modeled the activity I let the students know that not everyone will get a turn at this time, but the activity will be available during free choice center time later in the day to allow others to have a turn. 

I use the interactive clothing activity to help get my students thinking about the different types of clothing they wear to match the weather. This helps prepare them for the activity which will follow after the book. 

 When five or six students have had a turn I say, "Okay boys and girls we are going to move on. Now remember if you did not get a turn now, you will have a chance to have a turn during free choice center time."

"Now we are going to read a book about a little girl who is dressing for the weather." 


40 minutes

“Today’s book is called The Jacket I Wear in the Snow, by Shirley Neitzel and illustrated by Nancy Winslow Parker.”

“Can anyone tell me something they wear in the snow?”

I select two or three students who are following the correct protocol of raising their hand to respond to the question. I only take two or three because I do not want to lose my audiences interest in the book.

“Those were all great responses. We are going to read a book about a little girl and what she wears in the snow.”


I encourage my students to read along once they figure out the idea that the book repeats the text over and over after adding a new line. It usually does not take long for someone to figure out the flow of rhythm and rhyme within the text.

Towards the end of the book I just read the first new line and have the students read the following lines. They may require a little prompting on some lines, but otherwise they do very well reading it themselves.

Allowing the students to read along with me and then take over really engages them in the book. They also get to feel a sense of accomplishment when they have completed the book because they have "read" the majority of the book. My low readers get to be excited about reading because they are "reading" along with their peers. 


After we have finished reading I ask the students, “Boys and girls before we started reading the book I asked you to tell me some of the things you wear when you go to play in the snow. Well not everybody had a chance to tell me what they wear in the snow and that is okay. Why, you ask? Well the answer is simple, when you go to stations today you will hunt through the many winter clothing catalogs at that station and find the items you like to wear in the snow.”

“Once you find an item of clothing you like to wear, you will cut it out and glue it on your mannequin.”

I show the students the mannequin worksheet they will find at the station.  What I Wear in the Snow master

“This is like the mannequin’s you see in the store. It needs to be dressed in winter clothing to help make people want to buy the items. And of course we all know that clothing in the store has price tags and labels. So after you have “dressed” your mannequin in the clothing you like, you are going to label each item so the shoppers know what it is.”

“Can anyone tell me the resources I could use to label my clothing?”

I select students who are following the correct protocol to respond to the question. I will select enough students to cover the resource choices for this activity.

After the students have responded I say, “Those were all great suggestions of resources I could use. I can tap out the sounds I hear and write a letter to represent each sound. I can use the adults and friends at my station to help me sound out the word, and I can use the catalog itself if I see the word I want. Use whichever resource you need to label the items of clothing to the best of your ability.”  The importance of phonetic spelling.

“Now as you know I am using a checklist to go over your work. On the checklist it says, “Did the student write their name? Is the mannequin dressed in winter clothing? Is the clothing labeled? Is the work neat and handwriting legible (I lean over and whisper, “That means can I read it.”)?” Why I go over the checklist with the students.

“Does anyone have any questions?”

Once I feel the group has a good grasp of the instructions I send the students over one table group at a time to maintain a safe and orderly classroom. It usually sounds like this;

“Table number one let’s go have some winter clothing fun.

Table number two, you know what to do.

Table number three, hope you were listening to me, and

Table number four, you shouldn’t be here anymore.”


Allow the students 15 minutes to work on this activity. Set a visual timer and remind the students to look at the timer so they will use their time wisely.

Students working at the winter clothing catalog station 1     Students working at the winter clothing catalog station 2       Student labeling winter clothing


While the students are working I sit at this station and assist any of the students who are having difficulty phonetically labeling their items. Some of the students are still in the early phonetic spelling stage where they only hear the consonants and others are beginning to record short vowel sounds. My higher performing students actually look for the label within the text of the catalog to make sure they have spelled it correctly. 


10 minutes

When the time is up I blow two short blasts on my whistle and use the “Stop, look, listen” technique mentioned above.

“When I say go, I would like you to clean up your space remembering to take care of our things, push in your chair, and use walking feet to go and take a spot on your dot.”

Students know to put completed work in the finished work bin. Any work that is not completed goes into the under construction bin and can be completed throughout the day whenever the student finds he/she has spare time or it will be completed during free choice center time.

Student sample 1      Student sample 2      Student sample 3 

Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to tell me a word that has the same beginning sound as the word “jacket.”

“Boys and girls earlier today on the rug I had you think of lots of words that had the same beginning sound as the word “jacket.” At one of the stations you have to use those words to complete a “J is for…” little booklet. Now I am going to ask you to give me one of those words, or any other word that has the same beginning sound as “jacket.” Here is the deal though once a word has been used it is…?”

The students are very used to hearing me say this now and will chant back, “It is off the menu!”

"Off the Menu" explanation

I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.

Once a student has told me his/her beginning sound they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to give me an answer, they know they can do one of two things.

  1. They can ask a friend to help, or
  2. They can wait until everyone else has gone and then we will work on the beginning sound together.


I use the Jacket I Wear checklist to go over the student’s work to make sure they met all of the objectives. Once the checklist is complete I attach it to the student’s work and put it in their collection portfolio.

the reason I use the checklist is to make sure that I stay focused on whether the student met the objective or not. I can check to see whether the student did label the items and record any little anecdotal notes on my observation of inventive spelling techniques the student used.  


At one station the students are designing their own jacket using geometric shapes to fit with our geometry unit. They are told they can either make their design symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Students working on jacket designing      Student with his design


At another station students are working on an experiment as to which color is better at keeping you warm. They have to decide whether black or white is the better color. Students check the temperature on two thermometers and then place one under a black piece of paper in the sun and one under a white piece of paper in the sun. The papers and thermometers get left there for two hours. Students check the temperature differences and record the results. Based on their observations they have to decide which color jacket is better to keep you warm. This experiment relates back to our Polar unit study about the polar bears skin (which is black) and global warming.

Students working on experiment       Jacket Color Experiment recording sheet


At another station the students are filling in words that begin with the /j/ sound to complete the sentence, “J is for…” This makes a little booklet filled with three words beginning with the /j/ sound.

Image of J words we came up with on the SMARTBoard      Students working on "J is for..." book using SMARTBoard as a resource      Student sample of "J is for..." book      Image of "J is for..." book master