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 them they are going to rock around to the snowman rock. They will get to use their air guitars and move anyway they like so long as they keep control of their bodies. Anyone who I see does not have control of their body will be asked to move to the side and sit down until we are done.
Rock ‘n’ Roll Snowman, this is a free downloadable song you can get from the website Music K-8
It is a very fun rocking song and I introduce the idea of rock and roll music to my students. I also have the students dance around to this song to get them in the mind set of the idea that your imagination can be used to create many different kinds of situations and even narrate imaginary conversations. I mean who has ever heard of a snowman rocking it out with an electric guitar?
After the song is done I have the students sit back down on their spots by singing the "Spot on Your Dot" song.
“Today’s book is called The Snowman, by Raymond Briggs. While we are going through this book I want to see if you notice anything interesting or different about this book compared to other books we have read. Are you ready?”
“Okay let’s begin.”
I slowly turn the pages of the book admiring the illustrations as we go. It does not take long, two or three pages, before the students begin to ask where the words are.
“By joves your right!” I exclaim with exaggerated surprise. “This book does not have words!” I act a little surprised. “You know what? I did not really notice that the book had no words because in my mind there were words. As I look at the pictures my mind made up words that I heard in my head.”
“For example on this page (I point to the first page where the little boy wakes up excited and wants to go out) I hear the little boy saying, “Oh boy! Oh boy! It snowed! I am soooo going out to play in it! I have to put on my clothes super fast to get out there!”” I read it in an excited voice just as if I were the little boy.
“Do you see how I turn a wordless book into a story by using my mind and what I think and feel?”
Most of the students will nod their heads. A few maybe confused but they will catch on as they watch their peers take part.
“Okay, so what I am going to do is use the fair sticks to select people to be the “voice” of the story on some of the pages. We won’t do all of the pages because I want each of you to have a chance to make up your own story in your mind.”
“Here we go.”
I use the fair sticks to select students to make up dialogue for the story. Some students do not want to take part and that is okay. I can tell my more imaginative students because they react very enthusiastically when it is their turn and they make up long elaborate dialogues and descriptions. I hate to cut them short but I need to so that I do not lose the rest of the audience’s attention.
I use this story because I want my students to become comfortable with creating dialogue which is something they will need to be able to do in order to complete the lesson activity.
At the end of the story I ask the students what they thought about the book. I select two or three students who are following the correct protocol to respond to the question. I only select a few students to share their opinion because I do not want to lose my audiences attention.
"It is interesting to note that while we looked through this book several of you came up with some interesting dialogue while you narrated the story for us. Do not not worry if you did not get a turn narrating the story because at one of the stations today you will be creating a single narratioin for a snowman."
"You will each get a sheet that looks like this one (I hold up a sample of the sheet they will get) and it will be your job to think of something for your snowman to say."
“Once you have thought of a sentence for your snowman to say you will then write it in the speech bubble. Does anyone know what a speech bubble is?” Why a single narration?
I select a student who is following the proper protocol to respond to the question.
“That’s right Finnley it is basically a circle around the words. Usually the circle has a point sticking out of it towards the speaker so the reader knows who is doing the talking. Speech bubbles are used in books that are written in a comic book style of writing much like this one.” I hold up a sample. My favorite one to use is Calvin and Hobbes. I read a page to the students.
“We have also seen speech bubbles in some of our science books and even in the Magic School Bus series of books.” I hold up samples for the students to see. I use the Magic School Bus book pages and I also show a few pages from our recently read, What Is the World Made Of? All About Solids, Liquids and Gases by Paul Meisel. I point to and read the speech bubbles to the students. Reading the speech bubbles to the students shows them how the sentence in the bubble relates to the character in that moment and time in the book.
“You can see from these examples that the characters are saying something that relates to what is going on around them. When you create your sentence for your snowman it must relate to something you think a snowman would say.”
“After you have written your sentence you will draw some details to support your sentence. So if I write about my snowman saying something about snow, what will my illustration detail be?”
I allow the students to call out, “Snow!”
“That is exactly right… I will draw snow.”
“I would like you to try and write your sentence yourself, but if you need help there are resources you can use to help you. Please think about your resources while you are at this station and a grown-up will help you follow through.”
“Here is the checklist for this assignment.” I read over the checklist with the students.
When I have finished reading over the checklist I ask, “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 snowman poem 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.
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.
Once the students are seated I tell them that their exit slip for today is to read their snowman work to the rest of the group.
"Boys and girls, your exit ticket for today is to read the work you just completed to the rest of the class. Do not worry if you have not completed your work because you can just say pass and we will hear your work when you have completed it this afternoon."
"Now I want to ask you a question. If I am reading my work to the class as a group what sort of things should I remember?"
I select enough students from the group to reply to cover the basic skills we have practiced. Things like:
"Those were all great responses. Now what is my job as the audience?"
Once again I select enough students to respond to cover all of the skills we have practiced. Things like:
"Great work remembering our listening skills. Now I am going to use the fair sticks to see who is going to go first. Remember to say pass if you do not have your work here in the finished work bin."
I use the fair sticks to determine the order of the students.
Once a student has read their work to the rest of the group, they are able to use the hand sanitizer and go to get their snack. If a student is unable to read their own work they know they can do one of two things.
This is a good way to close out the activity part of the lesson because the students really want to share their work with their peers - especially if they think they have written something particularly funny (Sometimes I have trouble seeing the humor in five year old jokes, but the others think it is hilarious).
I use the My Snowman Says Checklist to go over the sentence and once it is complete I will place the student’s work in his/her collection portfolio.
Looking at the student’s work with the checklist helps me to stay focused on the point that I am looking to see if a student can come up with a single narration. The narration should make sense; in other words the audience should be able to understand it. I also check to see what kind of writing skills the student used to complete the task. Did they use inventive spelling, dictation, or copy something out of a book? I also make comment on how neat and tidy the work is.
The checklist helps me because the work sample provides me with evidence of students learning as to whether the student met the objectives or not. The checklist helps to convey information to the student’s family as to how well they are doing in class, and finally it helps the student by letting him/her know how he/she did and if there are areas where he/she could improve.
At one station the students’ will work on coming up with three cold words and one hot word to complete a poem prompt. The words can be adjectives, nouns or verbs.
Hands-On Math Around the Year, by Jacqueline Clarke. ISBN 0-590-96725-8
At another station the students’ will play a subtraction game pretending they are in a snowball fight with other students. The game is a Freebie download from the TeachersPayTeachers website.
At another station the students select either a rectangle or a circle shape and use adjectives to describe the attributes of the selected shape.
Later on in the day we would watch the movie version of The Snowman on the SMARTBoard. The movie version has no words only music so it supports the lesson nicely.