In winter, it can be hard to keep your students’ attention. Many days are cold and dreary, while some just seem to stretch on forever with little hope of sunshine. If you know exactly where I’m coming from, then I have the perfect winter picture book to keep your students engaged even on the gloomiest of days – Snowflake Bentley! This book offers so many amazing learning opportunities, you will want to share it with your students!
The Best Winter Picture Book
Over the years, I have come across many beautiful winter picture books! My absolute favorite is Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin. This book tells the story of William Bentley and his lifelong love of snowflakes!
It also shows its readers the wonder that Bentley felt about snow from an early age and how that love of snow pushed him to research snowflakes so that he could share their beauty with others! Snowflake Bentley had many obstacles in his life but exhibited the power of perseverance. His persistence teaches readers that following your dreams, regardless of what others may say, can lead to achieving your goals.
Not only is this story heartwarming, but it lends itself so well to teaching many different areas of study! From Social Studies to Science and Reading to Critical Thinking, Snowflake Bentley is the perfect winter picture book to share with your students! Now that you are excited to read this book, here are three ways that you can use this incredible story in your classroom!
1. Review Reading Strategies with Snowflake Bentley
Learning new reading strategies can be daunting for our students. Students “get it” during the lesson, but can’t seem to transfer that knowledge to a text. Snowflake Bentley has an easy-to-follow plot with a likable main character and memorable lessons to learn. Because of this, students will easily be able to summarize the plot, list the story elements, find character traits to describe Snowflake Bentley, and choose themes that apply to the story.
By exploring the life of Snowflake Bentley from childhood to adulthood, this book gives students plenty of opportunities for sequencing events. Increase the difficulty of your lesson by asking students to find a cause or effect of certain events from the story.
The incredible scientific information that students learn from this book makes it perfect for teaching the difference between fact and opinion, as well! Students can discuss facts about Bentley’s life or snow, and then give their opinions about that information.
Also, Snowflake Bentley has a much richer vocabulary than your typical winter picture book. Students can explore the meaning of new words by utilizing word maps, while vocabulary games and making sentence activities will help cement those new words in their own speaking and reading vocabularies! Activities such as identifying synonyms & antonyms, sorting by parts of speech, and writing analogies also become much more meaningful when using more difficult words such as the vocabulary in this book.
Reviewing a multitude of different reading strategies has never been easier than with my Snowflake Bentley Reading Companion which includes all of the activities mentioned above!
2. Use Snowflake Bentley to Explore Writing
As excellent as this book is for working on reading skills and strategies, it works just as well for incorporating writing activities! Asking students to write to a prompt often doesn’t mean much if they don’t have the background knowledge to draw from. Your students will love Snowflake Bentley so much, that it won’t be difficult to get them to write based on this book!
Students can write creatively by comparing their uniqueness to how “no two snowflakes are alike” or pretending they could give a gift to the world as Snowflake Bentley did with his beautiful snow pictures.
Writing poetry can be a bit stressful for students as many struggle to understand how to write a poem. Try starting with a simple diamante poem featuring Snowflake Bentley. This style of poetry has sentence starters in which students simply fill in the blanks with the information they learned about Snowflake Bentley.
Acrostic Poems are another great way to introduce poetry without the stress, as students simply write words or phrases that describe the given word (think SNOWFLAKE or WINTER).
Since this book tells the story of Snowflake Bentley, have students write a biography about his life! They can use the information from the book to tell about his childhood, the obstacles he overcame, and the accomplishments he achieved. This is a great way to incorporate some research skills too!
If writing is seen as a chore by your students, definitely check out my Snowflake Bentley Book Companion for print-and-go versions of the writing activities that I just mentioned! Their enjoyment of Snowflake Bentley may just be the ticket to getting your students excited about writing after all!
3. Engage with Snowflake Science
Once you have read Snowflake Bentley, you will realize just how easy it is to sneak a little extra science into your day! The subject of snow is always interesting to students, but the amazing things they learned about it from your story will make it even more appealing!
Start by reading a short book (like the one provided in my Snowflake Bentley Book Companion) on the lifecycle of a snowflake. Then, have students fill out a diagram that explains the process from beginning to end.
Once they understand the lifecycle, teach students the different shapes of snow crystals. Using the information they learned, students can then look at pictures of real snowflakes and categorize them by shape!
Now that students have a good understanding of how snow forms, let students grow their own crystal snowflakes using borax and water! This fun activity gets them observing, making scientific guesses, and drawing cool pictures! Students can even compare and contrast different types of crystals under a microscope! That is sure to keep your students engaged and thinking on even the dreariest winter day!
Use these Winter Picture Book Ideas in Your Classroom!
I know that by now you see just how all-encompassing Snowflake Bentley can be for your winter lesson plans! I wasn’t wrong when I said that this book can cover a lot of standards! Sometimes though, it’s just easier to have all of these resources in one place instead of having to keep track of all these fantastic ideas on your own.
Every activity you have heard about in this blog post is available in this huge 200+ page Snowflake Bentley Book Companion resource in my TPT Store! There are so many amazing activities, both print and go as well as digital Google Slides, in this pack that you could easily run centers and small groups or teach lessons with your whole class for an entire month!
Check it out and see how much easier (and more fun!) teaching in winter can be!
Pin this Winter Picture Book Blog Post
Go ahead and pin these amazing Snowflake Bentley teaching ideas to your favorite Pinterest teaching board! You will want them when dreary January rolls around!