Preparing for the hook: I left a cookie sheet outside with 2 X 2 inch pieces of black paper taped to it. The reason I do this is so when I ask my students to catch snowflakes, the paper is not too warm and melts the "specimens" we are gathering. Ideally, this is a lesson for a day when there is a light snow.
I have my students bundle up for an outdoor science expedition. As we head outside, I give each student a hand lens. Once outside, I model for the students how to catch and observe a snowflake using the black paper and a hand lens. I remind them that the snow melts quickly when we are touching it, so they will need to stay on task. Each of the children gets one of the pieces of black paper and they set off to gather and observe some snowflakes. We do this for about five minutes. I walk around and comment on what I see. I use words like plate and needle and hexagon and six-sided. I try to feed my students some of the vocabulary they will need in during these encounters.
This lesson can still be done without going out in the snow, but you will need to gather photos of real snowflakes.
Once inside and back to the rug, I say: we have been doing a lot of writing about things that we have observed. What did you see when you looked at your snowflakes? What can you tell me about what you saw with your eyes. Did anyone try touching the snow with their hands? Did anyone try tasting the snowflakes? Was there any sounds? You have made many good observations.
Sometimes scientists want to learn more about the things that they are observing. A great place to get more information is in a book. Today I will read to you a book about a man who made his life about studying snow. His name is Wilson Bentley and he was fascinated with snow from the time he was a young boy. We will look at this book to see what new information we can learn about snowflakes.
Today we are going to look at Jacqueline Briggs' book, Snowflake Bentley, to see what new information we can learn about snowflakes. Afterwards we are going to write down some things that are new to us.
I read the story to the children and field questions afterwards. I make a list of the new things that the children have learned. Exposing children to informational text early on can help them to handle the literacy demands of fourth grade and beyond.
Reading nonfiction to and with young children is a great way to teach new facts and intriguing information, as well as expose them to new words and to the format of nonfiction books.
I say: Scientific writers sometimes need to use other resources besides their observation skills to learn more about something. They sometimes use books to help them learn more about the subject.
I have gathered lots of non-fiction Books about Snow. Who remembers what non-fiction means? It means that the information is based on facts, not a made-up story. I would like you to make a drawing and label a snowflake that you saw. Use the books to help you with words and sounds. Use the illustrations in the book to help you draw. Scientific writer, you can go off and try to use the books at your tables to help you with your drawing and labeling.
You are ready to start with your writing and drawing. You will be given a blank science journal. On the pages you will be drawing a Detailed snowflake and writing some adjectives or describing words. Take your time and make the pictures look as real as you can.
As the children are working at their seats, I watched to see if the boys and girls were trying to draw six-sided figures, and using the resources at the tables to support their labeling of their pictures. My hope is that they will use words from the books and magazines to aid in their writing as well. I have written the prompt, "I saw a ___________ snowflake." on the board for the children to copy and make A completed page.