To begin this lesson, I call my students to the floor one table at a time. I ask them to sit like scientists, which means they are sitting quietly with their hands in their laps ready to listen and learn.
I ask the kids to raise their hand if any of them have ever experienced snow. Since we live a desert, very few of them have ever seen snow first hand. I then ask if any of them have ever seen snow on tv and the entire class raises their hand. That works as a starting point for this lesson.
I read the book, The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats.
We stop occasionally to talk about the snow and what we notice:
After discussing the story and the possible properties of snow, we watch a video that explains how snow is made:
The kids remain on the floor as I explain the exploration.
I provide each table with a tub of "snow". It is actually ice that has been shaved down to represent snow. I dismiss one table at a time to go to the tables and I have the kids make "snow" balls and then watch them melt into water.
Once the snow is melted, I have the kids return to the floor to discuss what they experienced. I ask the kids:
For each question, I have the kids think to themselves and then discuss their ideas with their floor partner. I then choose three or four random kids to share what they discussed. These types of questions serve as prompting for the kids to make their own scientific connections based on what they have experienced, heard and seen.
I list the kids' responses on chart paper so we can examine the ideas again at the end of the lesson.
After we have shared our thoughts about snow, I again explain the process of snow using a flow diagram.
I then match the ideas on our snow chart with the flow of snow diagram. This allows the kids to join their thinking with the facts about snow.
I have the kids think to themselves and then with their floor partner how snow starts as water and ends as water. I ask them to consider why it starts and ends the same.
I also explain to the kids that if we were to look at a million different snowflakes under a magnifying glass, no two would be exactly alike because of the ice crystals that are formed in the water when it freezes are all different.
I then use a poster size flow chart of snow to demonstrate how snow is formed. I draw arrows connecting each step in order. I explain to the kids that they will do the same thing with their own flow chart and place it in their science journal once it is complete.
This helps the kids think in a circular pattern about the science of snow as well as prepares them for completing the diagram.
The evaluation is the completion of the snow flow chart.
I call the table leaders up one at a time to get enough charts for everyone at their table. They go to the tables and set one chart at each students' place. I then dismiss one team at a time to sit at the tables and complete their flow chart.
Once everyone is finished, we meet back on the floor to share our work with our floor partner. I choose three students at random by pulling name sticks from a name stick can to sit in the teacher chair and explain how snow is formed using the flow chart.
Evaluating this way allows all the kids to understand the process of snow forming to the best of their ability. It also makes the steps involved clear and easy to understand.
The last step is the kids gluing the chart into their science journals so they can reference it at home during the summer if they so desire.
The science journals serve as a reference and a "year book" for the kids. The journals are sent home with them the day before the last day of school.
A take home reader is the tool used for the extension of this lesson. The students are able to share the information within the readers with their families. They cut and staple the reader in the classroom if there is time at the end of the lesson or as a transition before the next class period. The teacher can have the books prepared in advance if preferred.
Procedure to read books:
This take home reader supports learning and serves as a home-school connection piece. It supports learning by extending the lesson and crossing into Language Arts. Most students can read it themselves; those struggling with reading can have assistance at home.