On the Same Day in March…

March is here and I have the perfect book to recommend at the beginning of the new month: On the Same Day in March: A Tour of the World’s Weather by Marilyn Singer. This book is a fabulous way to help children understand that on any given day, people around the world experience different weather depending on their location. It also features a circular plot, in which the book starts and ends in the same way (or in this case, in the same geographical location).

My daughters both liked reading On the Same Day in March. While at the public library, we even found its companion book by Marilyn Singer titled Nine O’Clock Lullaby. Despite the word “lullaby” in the title, it is not a babyish book. It has a similar premiss to On the Same Day in March, but focuses on how time changes depending on a person’s location in the world. Our family read both books multiple times and found them very helpful for introducing basic concepts of geography, weather and time.

Best Ages: kindergarten – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • Look at the illustrated map before the story begins. Point out where you live on the map.
  • After reading, ask your child which country he/she would like to visit, and why. Also ask which type of weather your child prefers.
  • Make a simple and fun weather chart craft using a paper plate. Then use it each day this week to describe the weather.

For Teachers:

  • Write the name of 5 locations featured in the story on small slips of paper. Place in a basket. After reading the book, ask for student volunteers to choose a slip of paper. As a class, help that student locate the place on a world map or globe.
  • Set up learning stations with activities targeted for a selection of countries featured in the book. Activities can include books, travel guides, popular items imported/exported from the country, coloring pages, music or video clips. Or simplify and create learning centers for one country out of the book that interests you or corresponds to your curriculum. (For example, highlight Argentina with 4 centers: this free handout for  Tradition Day, a colorful buildings art collage center with color print-outs of Argentine streets,  a screening of this 2-minute film and a soccer center with this fun coloring page and some soccer-themed items.)
  • Track the weather for the month of March in your classroom. Integrate into your morning circle, daily work or science class. Check out this free daily weather chart or this free monthly handout.

Snowflakes and Science

Happy February! Is it snowing where you live? If so, you may enjoy reading Snowflake Bentley by Jacqueline Briggs Martin.

As a child growing up in Vermont in the 19th century, Willie Bentley was extremely curious about the world around him. That curiosity was heightened when he looked at snowflakes under a microscope and discovered that no two snowflakes were alike. When he was 17 years old, Willie’s parents parents decided to use their life savings to purchase him a state-of-the-art microscopic camera. From that point on, Willie Bentley dedicated his life to exploring nature and sharing his discoveries with the world.

Willie Bentley’s biography provides an outstanding example to children today of creativity, dedication and perseverance. The book also features wonderful sidebar notes for adults, teachers or older students to read to themselves for further information on Willie Bentley’s scientific work.  A black-and-white photograph of Mr. Bentley is featured at the end of the book, along with 3 breathtaking samples of the photographs he took of snowflake crystals.

On top of all that, the book won the the Caldecott Medal in 1999 for its incredible illustrations.

Snowflake Bentley is an excellent choice for a read-aloud or to incorporate in a unit on biographies, weather or science.

Note: As a biography, the book does explain that Willie died at the age of 66 years old of pneumonia. If you are uncomfortable discussing the subject of death with your children or students, you can skip the last 2 pages.

Best Ages: 1st grade – 4th grade

For Parents:

  • After reading the book together, explain the character trait of “perseverance.”  How did Willie Bentley show perseverance? Is there a time in your life when you displayed perseverance that you can share with your child?
  • For younger children, make snowflakes out of folded coffee filters. Hang them up with clear fishing line in your child’s bedroom.

For Teachers:

  • After reading the book together, discuss the word “perseverance.”  How did Willie Bentley show perseverance? How can you?
  • For 1st and 2nd graders, make snowflakes out of folded coffee filters. Display on a bulletin board and point out to students that each one is different.
  • For 3rd and 4th graders, post questions about the book around classroom. Number each question. Instruct students to number a page in their notebooks and walk around to look at each question – doesn’t have to be in order – and write down the answers. (If you’ve never tried this kind of movement in a review, divide your students into groups and set a time for 1 minute. Call out when it’s time to rotate.) Review answers to the questions as a class.
  • For 3rd and 4th graders, create a timeline of Willie’s life.  You may want students to refer to this Smithsonian webpage. Then ask students to illustrate the part of his life or scientific work they found most interesting.
  • Show this PBS video on The Science of Snowflakes.

 

Non-Fiction Winter Book

It’s important to expose our children to non-fiction, at home or in the classroom. I found a fabulous one for this time of year at our public library: Let’s Look at Winter by Sarah L. Schuette. The book explains the weather patterns of winter and how animals and plants go through changes in this cold season.

My preschooler liked reading this book multiple times and we were able to discuss our own observations of winter – both from memory and in light of the current and increasingly cold weather here in the midwest!

This book would be a great read-aloud for young children and an excellent read-to-self book for emergent readers. And it could be easily integrated with a science lesson or unit on climate, weather or seasons.

Check out my previous post, Animal Hibernation, for more winter learning fun.

Best Ages: pre-k – 2nd grade

For Parents:

  • With your child, take out family pictures from last winter. While you look at them together, talk about the activities you did together.
  • For young children, print out and play with this free warm weather/cold weather clothing sort from Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • If possible where you live, find some time to play outside in the snow together 🙂

For  Teachers:

  • During calendar or circle time, discuss the 4 seasons. Ask students to describe the weather in each season.
  • Prior to reading the book, take out a box of clothing and ask students to sort the clothes for warm weather and cold weather as a whole class. Then show students the cover of the book and ask which collection of clothes the characters in the book should wear to stay healthy and safe.
  • Set up learning station with activities for winter. Include this warm weather/cold weather clothing sort or these Snow Much Fun Task Cards, both free at Teachers Pay Teachers.
  • During recess or free time, have students complete a relay race. Set piles of winter clothing at one end of the gym and then instruct students to run across the room and put on one item at a time, then give to the next person in line, until all the winter clothes are worn by one team member.