“The Snowflake Bentley Mom”

You have heard of the helicopter mom, the tiger mom, and after this blog post, “The Snowflake Bentley Mom”…

To be clear, I am no relation to the Bentley family but while re-reading the children’s book ‘Snowflake Bentley’ by Jacqueline Briggs Martin I thought about how it was an excellent way to reinforce one of my parenting truths… “Follow your child’s interest”

Background info…summarized from the children’s book mentioned above.

At the age of fifteen, Snowflake Bentley’s mom gave him a microscope and he began to observe all sorts of nature. His favorite was to look closely at precipitation and that first winter Snowflake Bentley observed snowflakes under that microscope and hand-drew hundreds of snow crystals.

When he was 17, his parents spent their savings and bought him a special camera with its’ own microscope that could magnify from 64 – 3,600 times it actual size. All of his pictures the first winter were failures but he preserved and by the second winter had figured out how to photograph snowflakes.

As he worked with this micro-photography art form he found a way to improve the quality by cutting away dark parts of the negative around the crystal. This meant he spent hours and hours on a single photograph. Snowflake Bentley believed that the snow crystal photographs would be his gift to the world.

From an economic standpoint this project of required an investment of $15,000 in order to perfect his craft, and though he was able to photograph thousands of snow crystals his work and only received $4,000 from selling slides and photographs. You could say that the Return on Investment wasn’t great, yet his technique has continued to be improved upon and he is still remembered to this day.

His book, Snow Crystals, was published shortly before his death but this Vermont farmer-scientist-artist is revered as a pioneer in the field. I encourage you to read the story, ‘Snowflake Bentley’ by Jacqueline Briggs Martin – first read it to yourself and then read it to the children in your life.

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Reflect on the conviction that Snowflake Bentley had to pursue his interest in snow crystals despite the neighbors thinking his project was a joke.

Consider the impact that receiving a microscope from his mother  had on his life.

Think of the conversation between his parents when they were deciding to investment thousands of dollars on a camera for a project that no one else had done at the time.

Consider the belief that his parents had in their son and the impact of ‘following the child’s interest’.

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I believe that this is a fascinating story of how a farmer blended both science and art together to create a fulfilling (though not lucrative) career in following his childhood interest and passion.

I want to be a “Snowflake Bentley Mom” and invest in my children’s interests and to give them the tools that they need to in order to chase their dreams. It is that belief and support that helps our children reach for the stars!

How about you…does “Follow your child’s interest” resonate with your parenting truths?!

Children’s Books for Winter Studies

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Science behind snow & winter: (some of these are for adults, but the pictures are excellent to share with children)

Anderson, Maxine. Explore Winter!

Bentley, W.A. and W.J. Humphreys. Snow Crystals

Branley, Franklyn M. Snow is Falling

Callaghan, Jean Davis. No Snow for Seth

Cole, Joanna. Plants in Winter

Cassino & Nelson.  The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

Drake, Jane and Ann Love. The Kids Winter Cottage Book

Edison, Erin. Snow

Glasser, Linda. It’s Winter!

Hernandez, Christopher. Learn about weather: Snow

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Schweninger, Ann. Wintertime- Let’s Look at the Seasons

Stewart, Paul. A Little Bit of Winter

Stone, Tanya Lee. Living in a World of White- Where Survival Means Blending In

Taylor, Barbara. Hidden in the Snow

Yankielun, Norbert. How to Build an Igloo & Other Snow Shelters

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Snow, snowmen, and other not to miss winter stories:

Baker, Keith No Two Alike

Ball, Victoria. Bear’s Very Snowy Day

Briggs, Raymond. The Snowman

Buehner, Caralyn. Snowmen at Night

Butler, M. Christina & Tina Macnaughton. Snow Friends

Cartwright, Stephen & Heather Amery. The Snow Storm

Cheng, Andrea. Lemon Sisters.

Child, Lauren. Charlie and Lola: Snow is my favorite and best

Cocca-Leffler, Maryann. Let it Snow

Coleman, Michael. A Silly Snowy Day

Cuyler, Margery. The Biggest, Best Snowman

Ehlert, Lois. Snowballs

George, Jean Craighead. Dear Rebecca, Winter is Here.
George, William T. Winter at the Long Pond.
Hest, Amy. A Snowy Surprise

Hoban, Julia. Amy Loves the Snow

Hudson, Cheryl Willis. What Do you Know? SNOW!

Judge, Lita. Red Sled

Keats, Ezra Jack. Snowy Day

Littledale, Freya. The Snow Child

Lotz, Karen E. Snowsong Whistling

Maestro, Betsy. Snow Day

Mammano, Julie. Rhinos Who Snowboard

McKie, Roy & P.D. Eastman. Snow

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Here Comes the Snow

Morgan, Allen. Sadie and the Snowman

Moss, Miriam. The Snow Bear. (forest animals make a snow bear for little bear cub)

Nelson, Steve & Jack Rollins. Frosty the Snowman

North, Carol. Frosty the Snowman

O’Donnell, Elizabeth Lee. Winter Visitors. (counting book of animals sneaking into a girls home)
Preller, James. Wake Me in Spring.
Plourde, Lynn. Snow Day

Pulver, Robin. Axle Annie

Rylant, Cynthia. Poppleton in Winter

Schecter, Deborah. Cold Rose

Scherer, Jeffrey. One Snowy Day

Schertle, Alice. All You Need for a Snowman

Smith, Dick. Winter Wonderland: Sleigh Bells Ring, Are You Listening?

Stringer, Lauren Winter is the Warmest Season.

Waddell, Martin. Owl Babies.

Voskoboinikov, Valery. The Icicle

Walters, Catherine. When will it be Spring?

Weinberger, Kimberley. Winter is Here

Yolen, Jane. Owl Moon.

Bears and animals in winter:

Alborough, Jez. Where is Teddy?

Arnosky, Jim. Every Autumn Comes the Bear. (also includes pictures of ravens, bobcat, raccoon, chickadees, deer, bunnies, fox, & grouse. Simple text make it a great preschool read aloud.)
Bancroft, Henriette and Richard Van Gelder. Animals in Winter.
Benjamin, Cynthia and Jacqueline Rogers. Footprints in the Snow.
Berger, Melvin & Gilda. What do Animals Do in Winter? How Animals Survive the Cold
Bland, Nick. The Very Itchy Bear

Boring, Mel. Rabbits, Squirrels, and Chipmunks.
Brett, Jan. Annie and the Wild Animals

Brown, Tom. Nature Observation & Tracking.
Burns, Diane and Linda Garrow.Tree, Leaves, and Bark (Take Along Guides)
Carle, Eric and Bill Martin, Jr. Brown Bear, Brown Bear What Do You See?
Coleman, Michael. A Silly Snowy Day

Crossingham. What is Hibernation?
Denslow, Sharon Phillips. In the Snow. (chickadee, sparrow, cardinal, crow, squirrel, bunny, mouse & possum. Very simple text and engaging illustrations.)
Fisher, Ron. Animals in Winter.
Fleming, Denise. Time to Sleep.
Galdone, Paul. The Three Bears

Graham-Barber Lynda. The Animals’ Winter Sleep

Hall, M. Hibernation.

Henkes, Kevin. Old Bear.

Holmer, Marilyn F. Beaver Stream (very informative, beautiful illustrations)

Kosara, Tori. All About Hibernation

Krauss, Ruth. The Happy Day

London, Jonathan. Froggy’s Best Christmas (froggy, beaver, turtle & bear get to experience their first Christmas since they woke up from their winter naps.)

McPhail, David. Big Brown Bear.

Meadows, M. Hibernation Station.

Messner, Kate. Over & Under the Snow. (includes information on: red squirrels, shrews, deer, deer mice, voles, shoeshoe hares, bullfrogs, beavers, red fox, chipmunk, black bear, and bumblebees.)

Moore, Eva & Joanna Cole. The Magic School Bus Sleeps for the Winter

Moss, Miriam. The Snow Bear

Murray, Marjorie Dennis. Don’t Wake Up the Bear!

Numeroff, Laura Joffe. IfYou Give a Moose a Muffin

Rosen, Michael. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.

Rustad, Martha E.H. Foxes and Their Dens.

Salas, Laura Purdie. Do Polar Bears Snooze in Hollow Trees? A Book about Animal Hibernation.
Schaefer, Lola. Deer. (Great pictures, clear language that answers kid’s common questions about deer.)

Schecter, Deborah. Winter is Here (emergent Level A reader)

Souci, Daniel San. North Country Night.

Tagliaferro, Linda. Bears and Their Dens.

Waddell, Martin. Can’t You Sleep Little Bear?

Walters, Catherine. Time to Sleep Alfie Bear. (Set in the summer but a great book to share if you are learning about bears)
Wilson, Karma. Bear Snores On.

Wright, Maureen. Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze!
Yolen, Jane. Sleep, Black Bear, Sleep. (black bear, frog, bat, snake, turtle, gopher, skunk, badger, beaver, mouse, toad, & chipmunk)

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Animal tracks:

Arnosky, Jim. Wild Tracks!  (amazing book with fold out pages of life sized tracks)
Arnosky, Jim. I See Animals Hiding.
Benjamin, Cynthia and Jacqueline Rogers. Footprints in the Snow.

Boyle, Doe. Summer Coat, Winter Coat: The Story of a Snowshoe Hare

Dendy, L. Tracks, Scats, and Signs.
Dodd, Anne Wescott. Footprints and Shadows.
Dorros, Arthur. Animal Tracks.
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Snow: Who’s Been Here?
George, Lindsay Barret. In the Woods: Who’s Been Here?
Hulbert, Laura. Who Has These Feet?

Hodgkins, F. Who’s Been Here? A Tale in Tracks. (includes tracks from: cat, turkey, moose, skunk)
Jones, Jennifer. Who Lives in the Snow?
Judge, Lita. Red Sled

Levine, Lynn and Martha Mitchell. Mammal Tracks and Scat: Life-Size Tracking Guide

Miller, Dorcas. Track Finder: A Guide to Mammal Tracks of Eastern North America.
Roberts, James Nail. Whose Tracks are These?

Selsam, Millicent E. Big Tracks, Little Tracks.
Sams, Laura. Stranger in the Woods – Photographic Fantasy.
Lawlor, Elizabeth P. Discover Nature in Winter (Discover Nature Series)
Stall, Chris and Steve Whitney. New England Animal Tracks.
Wilson, Karma & Jack E. Davis. Moose Tracks!

Yee, Wong Herbert. Tracks in the Snow. (A great story to introduce young children to tracking. A girl follows tracks around her home and discovers that they are her own tracks from the previous day.)
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Polar theme:

Berger, Melvin & Gilda. What Polar Animals Eat

Black, Sonia W. Follow the Polar Bears.

Canizares, Susan & Daniel Moreton. Arctic Winter, Arctic Summer

Canizares, Susan. Who Lives in the Artic?

Martin, Bill & Eric Carle. Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear?

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Winter clothing theme:

Brett, Jan. The Hat

Brett, Jan. The Mitten

Butler, M. Christina. One Snowy Night

Butler, M. Christina. One Winter’s Day

Kellogg, Steven. The Missing Mitten Mystery

Neitzel, Shirley. The Jacket I Wear in the Snow

Tresselt, Alvin. The Mitten

 

 

 

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Teacher’s Booklist for Winter Studies

Anderson, Maxine. Explore Winter!

Archer, Cheryl. Snow Watch

Bentley, W.A. and W.J. Humphreys. Snow Crystals

Cassino & Nelson.  The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder

Cole, Joanna. Plants in Winter

Cvancara, Alan. Exploring Nature in Winter

Danks, Fiona & Jo Schofield. Nature’s Playground: Activities, Crafts, and Games to Encourage Children to Get Outdoors.

Dendy, Leslie. Tracks, Scats, and Signs.

Drake, Jane and Ann Love. The Kids Winter Cottage Book

Garrett, Linda & Hannah Thomas. Small Wonders: Nature Education for Young Children

Hoyler, Emily & Linda Wellings. Cultivating Joy & Wonder: Educating for Sustainability in Early Childhood through Nature, Food & Community

Lawlor, Elizabeth. Discover Nature in Winter

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs. Snowflake Bentley (Caldecott Medal Winner)

Parrella, Deborah. Project Seasons: Hands-on activities for discovering the wonders of the World.

VanCleave, Janice. Science Around the Year

Yankielun, Norbert. How to Build an Igloo & Other Snow Shelters

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Snow Mazes

img_1131One really simple and fun activity to do outdoors is to create “Snow Mazes”. I like to head outside with my snowshoes on, and pack down a winding path with a couple of dead ends. (This could be created with boots, but will take you much longer.) At the end of the path I hide a large plastic tote by burying it into the snow. Sometimes the tote is pretty easy to spot, but the kids play along since they love the idea of hunting down buried treasure. What to offer as the treasure depends on what you have available. Some ideas to get you started include plastic outdoor toys, colored ice cubes, large chunks of snow, large ‘diamond’ ice chunks or icicles, or a stuffed animal brought from home.

Another option would be to hide treasures along the path and the kids could have a bucket to gather the items such as pine cones or colored ice cubes as they travel the path.

Sometimes these mazes are simple with straight lines so the kids run longer distances, and other times I create lots of twists and turns.

With one group of preschoolers these mazes always turned into an imaginative game of them playing that they were race car drivers, so I brought out a bunch of Frisbees to be their steering wheels.

Children also love to make these mazes their own – maybe suggest they create a pirate’s map first indoors and then create it once they get outside.

Have you made snow mazes for your children? I’d love to hear about them!

Chubby Little Snowman Props

“Chubby Little Snowman” is a classic poem that has been part of my teaching repertoire for almost two decades! I’m not sure of the original source, but I think most early childhood teachers know the poem by heart.

A chubby little snowman
Had a carrot nose.
Along came a rabbit
And what do you suppose?
That hungry little bunny,
Looking for his lunch,
ATE the snowman’s carrot nose…….
Nibble, nibble, CRUNCH!

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After my students learn the rhyme, we create props to act it out. To create the noses, I cut toilet paper tubes and help the children roll them to create a cone shape. Using orange masking tape the children layer on until the whole outside is covered.  This year the kids decided they wanted noses of multi-colors…why limit yourself to just orange! Then we use a whole punch and add thin elastic to make a way to tie the nose on!

For the bunny, we cut out a bunny shape from card stock and tape it onto a tongue depressor. The children then have a set of props that they can use to retell and act out the poem.

Simple and almost free…which are often the most beloved projects we do!

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Snowflake Print Making

I love to offer open ended explorations for my students that connect to what we are studying. Currently we are learning about snowflakes, so what better way than to create some snowy paintings.

For print making I like to lay out a variety of materials such as: spool of thread, bottom of a berry basket cut into snowflake shape, foam snowflake stickers stuck onto wooden blocks, snowflake shaped cookie cutters, and foam snowflake stamps.

For paints I like to use a shallow pie pan to attempt to contain most of the mess. I like to offer a variety of blues, whites, and glittery paints. Washable paints are essential for this project, and I love BioColor paints from Discount School Supply!

After the materials are set up, I let the children explore and create!

 

Winter Early Childhood Conference

I am super excited to be a presenter for the VIRTUAL 2017 Winter Early Childhood Conference. My session is titled, “Exploring Winter with Children” and its jam packed with practical ideas to get children actively engaged outside in the colder months!

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Over the years I’ve taken many different trainings from Fairy Dust Teaching…and love the convenience of staying home while I learn new things.

And now I get to give back, and be a presenter myself!

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If you’d like more information about the conference, check out this link!

https://io156.isrefer.com/go/winterconference/azajko/

 

 

Snowflake Catching Necklaces

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I had this brainstorm a few years ago when I was outside with my son. We were trying to catch snowflakes on black felt and black construction paper but they kept bending in half and blowing in the wind. My son had his mittens on so he was even more frustrated by not being able to hold the paper well.

That’s when it hit me, I need to make some “Snowflake Catching Necklaces”!

I wanted something that could hang around his neck so when he lost interest it could just hang there. I also wanted it to be firm enough that it wouldn’t fold or bend. I decided an old CD with a ribbon attached could fit this purpose.

To make them I covered one side with dark colored felt. The felt works well because it’s fuzzy texture kind of makes the snowflakes stand up so you can view it from multiple angles. I also made sure that the ribbon was long enough to easily fit over a hood or hat since these will be used while we have our big winter coats on.

For the reverse side of the snowflake catchers I have made a couple of different versions:
* For some I added a felt pocket where a magnifying glass could be stored. To make it more portable, I attached a plastic magnifying glass onto another ribbon so it would all stay together. (This option proved a little hard for 3 year olds to operate though.)
* Another idea was to draw a few types of common snowflakes to use as a quick reference.
* My favorite choice for preschoolers is to the leave the back side blank so they have a “mirror”. They like to check themselves, especially if they are trying to catch falling snowflakes on their tongues! This mirror would also be fun to show them how to make reflections with the sun and send an S.O.S. message!

Class set for my preschoolers…now if only we could have a nice snowfall!

Happy Snowflake Catching! Be sure to look up the life story of Snowflake Bentley, whose passion was catching and photographing snowflakes!

I also have a great Pinterest board of fun ideas to do outdoors in winter!

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