WHITEHALL ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Shared Learning Objectives
2000 - 2001 Project
||Whitehall Central School
||John A. Mead
|SLO Option 1 Project:
||John A. Mead
|Home Page Address:
When the first snow of the season falls, it is not uncommon to see
young children running about with their tongues protruding from their
determined faces. Each child anticipating their first "catch" of the
year. Since most, if not all, children are fascinated with snow, this
lesson is very enjoyable for the students and their teacher.
The students will...
- "catch" and examine snowflakes.
- draw and write about the different snowflakes that were observed.
- collect a "clean" snow sample to melt.
- examine the particulate residue collected from the snow melt.
- demonstrate their comprehension using drawings, writing, and oral presentations.
The students should already know...
- how to use magnifying glasses or hand lenses.
- how to observe an object through a microscope.
- that snow is a solid form of water.
- that snow melts when warmed.
The students should know...
- that snowflakes are ice crystals.
- that snowflakes come in many forms and that each are unique.
- that snowflakes form around particulates or "dirt".
The time required for this lesson/activity, as presented, is approximately
for individual student use...
for the classroom demonstration...
- Snow - weather permitting!
- Appropriate outdoor clothing.
- A magnifying glass. (The larger the lense, the better for this age
- A 4"x5" piece of black construction paper. (An 8"x10" sheet, cut
into quarters works nicely, as this size tends to be rigid enough
to stand out horizontally.)
- Snowflake Crystal Forms sheet. There is a link to obtain this sheet
in the LINKS: section of this activity.
- Drawing supplies.
- Filter paper. (Either visit your science department for some or use
white coffee filters.)
- A funnel.
- Two clear containers. (I use 500mL glass beakers, but any type of
container can be used.)
- A microscope.
Before you begin this activity, ask the students how many of them like to
eat snow or catch snowflakes on their tongues. Usually the majority of the
students will respond favorably. Expect a few "yellow" snow comments.
- Reintroduce the students on how to properly use the magnifying glass.
Students should be able to focus on an object, keeping their faces a
distance away from the lense. Students, at this age, tend to place the
magnifying glass directly to their eye and move their heads to focus.
Body heat from their faces and breathe shorten the veiwing time of
snowflakes in this manner. Remind the students that breathing on them
or getting too close will melt the snowflakes.
- Show the students how to hold the construction paper by holding the
paper on one corner. This method keeps the paper cool by allowing
for the least amount of body heat produced by the hand. Also, show the
students how to cool the paper, once you go outside. Have the students
flutter the paper back and forth. Keeping the construction paper as dry as
possible will enable snowflakes to be observed longer before melting and
this action will sufficiently chill the paper to the external air
- With the students properly dressed, parade them outside, with a
magnifying glass in one hand and a piece of construction paper in the other.
Start the students cooling their paper as soon as they get outside. Give
a minute or so to cool the paper before you begin.
- Have the students begin catching snowflakes. Standing still and
holding the paper horizontally is the best stalking method. Do not let the
students scoop up snow from the ground, it gets the construction paper
wet and there is little chance that a single snowflake can be observed.
Every so often, have the students cool their papers. Some students may
notice that they can observe snowflakes that have fallen on coats, hats or
mittens. They may even start observing snowflakes on each other.
- After you are done with observing snowflakes, collect a clean sample
of snow in a clear container, before you return to the classroom.
- Let the snow sample melt, while the students draw and write about the different
snowflake shapes they observed. Allow them to use a snowflake
classification sheet, as it helps them to remember what they saw.
Of course, there is always at least one student that will instantly
claim that all types were observed.
- Set up the funnel over the other empty container. The container
should be large enough to collect the melted snow sample. Inside the
funnel, place a cone of filter paper to collect anything that may have
been inside the snow. If there is still snow left in the sample, ask the
students for ideas on how to melt the snow faster. Try several methods
that the students may come up with, such as rubbing your hands on the
container, blowing in it, putting it in the sun or near the heater, run
hot water on it or any other idea that they may come up with. SAFETY TIP:
Do not heat up the container with an open flame or hot plate. The
container may shatter.
- Pour the melted snow sample through the filter paper and collect any
particulates. This may take some time as the water drains through. After
the water is completely drained from the filter paper, show the students
the "dirt" or "dust" collected. Use a microscope or magnifying glass
for closer examination. A microscope would enhance the particulate
observation, as students could see the actual grains of dust, dirt or
bacteria (Bacteria is a common nucleus for snow formation). It is amazing
what you can find in snow! Ask the question about how many students like to
eat snow again. Notice any significant changes in their answers? Have the students
draw or write about what they saw on their papers.
- Have the students present their drawings, writings, and observations to the class.
This lesson is easy to modify for any grade level. The lesson presented
is geared to primary grade students, more specifically to first graders.
Kindergarten and second grade students can do this without much
modifications. For older students, advanced or enrichment classes, there
are activities that can actually preserve snowflakes on glass slides. Also,
more advanced studies of snowflake crystal classification and how they are
related to temperature or other weather factors, can be focused on. There
are links to appropriate sites in the LINKS: section of this activity.
LEARNING STANDARDS REFERENCED:
MATH, SCIENCE, AND TECHNOLOGY STANDARDS
MST Standard #1 - Students will use mathematical analysis, scientific
inquiry, and engineering design, as appropriate, to pose questions, seek
answers and develop solutions.
- develop relationships among observations to construct
descriptions of objects and events and to form their own tentative
explanations of what they observed.
- carry out their plans for exploring phenomena through direct
observation and through the use of simple instruments that permit measurements
- organize observations and measurements of objects and events
through classification and the preparation of simple charts and tables.
- share their findings with others and actively seek their
interpretations and ideas.
MST Standard #2 - Students will access, generate, process, and transfer
information using appropriate technologies.
- access needed information from printed media, electronic
data bases, and community resources.
- demonstrate ability to evaluate information.
MST Standard #4 - Students will understand and apply scientific concepts,
principles and theories pertaining to the physical setting and living
environment and recognize the historical development of ideas in science.
- observe and describe properties of materials using appropriate tools.
- describe chemical and physical changes, including changes in states of
- describe a variety of forms of energy and the changes that occur in
objects when they interact with those forms of energy.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE ARTS STANDARDS
ELA Standard #1 - Students will read, write, listen, and speak for
information and understanding.
- gather and interpret information from children's reference
books, magazines, textbooks, electronic bulletin boards, audio and media
presentations, oral interviews, and from such forms as charts, graphs,
maps, and diagrams.
- present information clearly in a variety of oral and written
forms such as summaries, paraphrases, breif reports, stories, posters, and
ELA Standard #3 - Students will read, write, listen and speak for critical
analysis and evaluation.
- monitor and adjust their own oral and written presentations to
meet criteria for competent performance.
ELA Standard #4 - Students will read, write, listen, and speak for social
- listen attentatively and recognize when it is appropriate for
them to speak.
- take turns speaking and respond to others' ideas in conversations
on familiar topics.
- recognize the kind of interaction appropriate for different
circumstances, such as story hour, group discussions, and one-on-one
- Observe student participation during the instruction and the activity.
- Successful completion of writing and drawing or drawings of snowflakes
and of particulates found in the snow melt.
- Successful transfer of information to fellow students in the form of oral
and/or writing/drawing presentations.
The students will...
- listen to and follow instructions.
- Use a magnifying glass and microscope to make observations.
- Write and draw their observations, using a classification sheet.
- Be able to discuss their observations to the class.
- Be able to listen to fellow students observations.
Here are several links to sites that have information on snowflakes.
This is an activity that I personally enjoy and have used it, in one form
or another, with over 40 first grade classes. Since it is hard to write this
activity in your plans ahead of time, you can do a preliminary lesson to prepare
the students for what will happen when it does snow.